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When her church packed away the hymnals during the pandemic, Elena LaVictoire found a workaround she's come to love.

A lot of changes came about in the church last year due to the COVID pandemic. Holy water disappeared from the fonts near all the doors. Confessions were only heard outdoors or mask-to-mask at a social distance. I’m still not sure that my actual confession was heard, as I am also not quite sure I heard anything the priest told me with absolute certainty. Singing was verboten. The shared wine cup was naturally gone, and ropes, ties, and bungee cords made sure that we kept a social distance from the pews in front and behind us. And if that wasn’t enough of a reminder, tape on the floor reminded us to keep six feet away from each other.

But perhaps the most jarring change was the removal of the missalettes and hymnals. Without those Mass guides, it became pretty clear that most of us couldn’t recite the Creed from memory or say the Gloria without singing it! The psalm responses were recited at first, and then eventually sang by a masked cantor. But frankly, without the words in front of me, and with articulation being muted, it was difficult to know what the response of the day actually was.

Daily Roman Missal cover

When the English translation of the canon came about in 2011, my sister and I each bought a copy of the new Roman Missal. Frankly, my sister inspired me to get mine when she got hers. But I remember my grandparents carrying their missals to Mass back in the day and I still have them, all lovingly worn with weakened bindings and prayer card remembrances stuck in the pages. So maybe nostalgia played into my purchase as well.

When the missalettes disappeared, I started bringing my missal to Mass. When the Gloria started getting mushy, I read loudly in confidence! I had the words in front of me. The Creed was no problem and I could repeat the psalm response without a mistake.

Missal open to the page with the Gloria

After some fumbling of the pages in the beginning, I now have everything marked the way I want it. It’s my personalized prayer book. My favorite part of having my missal with me is to be able to read the Eucharistic prayer as the priest is saying it. I’ve learned to figure out which prayer is being used and get to it in an instant. I feel that having the words in front of me help me to pray the prayer deeply and feel more connected to the words of consecration.

I’ve also discovered that my missal has a section for Adoration, feast days and other important prayers and instructions on being a Catholic. It’s all conveniently located in one book.


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Having the words in front of me help me to pray the prayer deeply and feel more connected to the words of consecration. #catholicmom

It’s been a year now and the missalettes are back. But I have grown to love my own missal. It’s the book my granddaughter has watched me use now and it’s what she remembers. It even has a few favorite prayer cards and pictures of my own stuck among its pages. Maybe that family tradition will carry itself forward and if so, that would be one bright side to this long pandemic era.

Missal open to page titled "How to be a better Catholic"


Copyright 2021 Elena LaVictoire
Images (from top): Canva Pro; all others copyright 2021 Elena LaVictoire, all rights reserved.