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"When you can't get to Mass" by Ginny Kochis (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: Pixabay.com (2014), CC0/PD[/caption] Growing up, the phrase “traveler’s dispensation” didn’t exist in my house. It didn’t matter where we were, how long we would be there, or what our family was supposed to be doing: if we were out of town or driving somewhere on a Sunday, we absolutely went to Mass - usually to a Church my dad found in the phone book. Yeah, the phone book. I was an '80s kid. There were moments this insistence rankled, like driving 40 minutes inland when I just wanted to lie on the beach. But as time passed and I grew older, I began to recognize my father’s effort for the gift it was to our family: an act of service from a man who understood both obligation and vocation. God had called my father to make sure our family got to heaven, so off to Mass and the Eucharist we went. This is part of the reason why, as a mother and wife to a man whose sensibilities are much like my father’s, I find myself chafing at the idea of missing Mass -- ever. Just as my husband and I are responsible for feeding, clothing, and educating our three children in the material sense, so we are responsible for doing so in relation to their souls. We make sure they brush their teeth, do their schoolwork, and eat as close to a balanced diet as we can get into them. How could we not take them to Mass every week? Well … Sometimes, someone in the house is under the weather. Or there’s been a measurable amount of snow. Or something major -- something we never expected -- is going on in the world around us. Like a pandemic. Never in a million years would I have expected churches to close. It’s often said that man plans and God laughs, but this time, it seems a global emergency’s attempted to find humor at our expense. Most dioceses have cancelled Mass for the foreseeable future, and we’re forced to carry on bravely in our living rooms. It’s a heavy thought, for sure -- the realization that the Eucharist, our solace, our source and summit, our highest gift among all others has been stripped away along with the holy sacrifice of the Mass. It’s a huge hole to fill in our hearts. How in the world will we fill it for our kids? We may not be able to make it to the Eucharist for the time being, but we are immeasurably blessed in other ways. We can still stream Mass or watch it on TV in our domestic sanctuaries. And we have access to some pretty cool resources that can help make the Mass more tangible for us in other ways:

15 At-Home Resources for Families (When You Can’t Get to Mass)

From CatholicMom.com: CatholicMom.com's free Sunday Gospel Activities include Mass worksheets (which children can use at home while streaming Mass or watching on TV), puzzles, and a link to the Sunday readings each week. From the folks at Waterfront Academy: Repurpose household items for a makeshift home Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium: a prayer table to enthrone a family Bible alongside a small statue of Jesus, Mary, and the saints, a candle to light for during prayer. From Emily Jaminet, author of The Friendship Project and Divine Mercy for Moms: Enthrone your family in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Find resources at Welcome His Heart. From Delphina Rose Art: Printable saint and Catholic printable coloring pages, currently 33% off (no code needed). From The Mass Box: Monthly Kids’s Subscription Crates with fun, reverent, liturgically relevant activities perfect for the whole family. From Catholic Family Crate: Monthly subscription boxes to help you build a Catholic culture at home. From Prayer, Wine, Chocolate: Start a prayer journal with your preschooler! 23 Ways Your (Active) Boys Can Honor Lent From Sweet Little Ones: Beautiful Spiritual Communion printable prayers From Ginny Kochis (ahem, me): To Hear His Voice: The Mass Journal for Catholic Kids From Andi at Spoken Bride: Stations of the Cross. We got beautiful stations cards from Catholic Family Crate and I bought little wooden holders so we place stations around the downstairs (in order) with a tealight and the lights go off. After we pray each station we blow out the candle and the house slowly gets dark. opposite of Advent with the wreath! From Monica at Arma Dei: A collection of homilies at home, recorded by priests around the world. From Julia at Purple Civet: A weekly, kid-friendly version of the Gospel story with a song and coloring page links. From Worthy of Agape: High-quality, wooden Mass playsets for kids. From Sara at To Jesus, Sincerely: A Walking Holy Week with Jesus Digital Prayer Journal   Circumstances may not allow us to continue my father’s ride or die Mass tradition, and for now, I’m going to have to be okay with that. I’ve come to realize that it’s not so much the phrasing you use (I’m looking at you, Traveler’s Dispensation) as it is the actions you take when certain circumstances are presented. Here’s to making the best of the time we have in these uncertain, unusual circumstances, and to filling our hearts with spiritual communion, instead.
Copyright 2020 Ginny Kochis