[caption id="attachment_172209" align="aligncenter" width="1180"] Copyright 2013 Holy Cross Family Ministries. All rights reserved.[/caption]
As Catholics around the world continue to celebrate Mass virtually during this unusual health crisis, many families are seeking ways to bring the sacred into the home. For parents, the challenge of gathering everyone in one room on their best behavior to participate in Mass is real. Kids don’t sense the need to “be ready” for Mass as the living room has been such a place of comfort and relaxation. It is where we gather to decompress from the day of hard work but in these times it must serve two purposes.
As a mom of many, I find myself continually setting the stage for my family to be successful. In times like these, we must also set the stage for our family to stay nourished in faith. We have been privileged to have Mass celebrated in our home a few times when we had visiting priests, so preparing for virtual Mass was similar.
When it comes to celebrating Mass at home or virtually, here are some of our family’s traditions along with some recommended by Father Dave Sizemore from St. Francis de Salles Parish in Newark, Ohio.
- Clear any clutter out of the room so it feels ready. For us that means all our school books, clothing, toys, remote controls, and so on. The table is wiped down and a tablecloth is placed upon it.
- Create a family altar. Ask every family member to gather their favorite prayer cards, holy medals, statues, and candles. I love when we have this opportunity because objects from my older kids' youth -- a little Franciscan cross, a favorite prayer card, a first communion statue and other holy objects to remind us of the church -- are placed upon our family altar. My youngest daughter dried the white roses she received from her father on her first Reconciliation, and she places those on our family altar as well.
- Have holy water in a bowl so family members can bless themselves as they enter. It reminds us of the sacredness of the moment in which we are going to be sharing.
- Put a crucifix in the room if there is not one.
- Have your Bibles marked with the readings for the day or print up the readings for the Mass so everyone can follow along. If your parish posts the music online, then have it available. Giving everyone the tools to participate is essential in making Mass accessible, whether in person or virtually.
- Encourage family members to change out of their pajamas. In an attempt to remind everyone of the sacredness of the Mass, we ask that pajamas not be worn and day clothes be put on.
- Offer your Mass for someone. In our parish, we begin Mass by turning to our neighbor and asking them for their prayer intention. When celebrating Mass virtually we are able to ask our family members for their intentions as well as thinking of those intentions we hold in our heart and offer our Mass for them.
- Make a spiritual communion. One of the hardest things when celebrating Mass virtually is the longing for Jesus in the Eucharist. The longing is a beautiful thing and draws our hearts closer to Jesus. As Catholic Christians, we can make a spiritual communion during the time the priest is receiving Jesus by saying this prayer.
“My Jesus, I believe that You are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I long for You in my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself entirely to You; never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.”
- Have donuts, coffee and juice ready for after Mass. The social aspect of gathering together after Mass is a way for us to check in with friends after Mass. When celebrating Mass virtually, we place the donuts, drinks, and plates on the table in the other room. There is even a mad dash by our younger kids for donuts after the last verse of the song is sung.
As a final note, I think it is really important to take time to breathe in the fact that your family is gathering within the walls of your home to worship the Lord. How many Christians before us have had to do this in secret on fear of persecution and death? See the seeds of faith you are planting and take the time that has been given to us in this period of social distancing and staying at home to water and nourish them. There is no greater gift we can give our family than the gift of family rooted in Christ.
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Copyright 2020 MaryBeth Eberhard
This article was originally published at FaceForwardColumbus.com and is reprinted here with permission.
About the Author
MaryBeth Eberhard spends most of her time laughing as she and her husband of 22 years parent and school their eight children. She has both a biological son and an adopted daughter who have a rare neuromuscular condition called arthrogryposis and writes frequently about the life experiences of a large family and special needs. You can read more of her work at MaryBethEberhard.com.