There is no substitute for the Mass when it comes to deepening our relationship with Christ. The celebration of the Eucharist – the source and summit of our Catholic faith – is what unites us most closely with Jesus and gives us the grace to grow in holiness. So what happens when we can no longer attend Mass in person or receive communion?
During this time of pandemic when we are asked to stay home and avoid public gatherings, viewing Mass online has become a popular way for Catholics around the world to remain connected to the sacraments. However, just because Mass is being broadcast on our computers, phones, and other devices, our experience of virtual Mass should not feel passive, like watching TV or surfing Netflix.
Instead, we should strive to be active participants, just as is expected of us when we attend Mass at our parish. This is because when Christ’s sacrifice is made sacramentally present in the liturgy, we are invited to enter into union with Him. Jesus gives himself fully to us in the Eucharist, and this act requires a response. Our participation in the Mass demonstrates our response to Christ’s invitation, as we choose to either give ourselves fully to Him in return, or to remain idle.
The following infographic was designed to serve as a guide for how to pray and fully engage during a livestreamed Mass. Ideally, we should strive to treat online Mass with the same reverence and participation that we would use if we were in church. This could mean surrounding your streaming device with other religious items, like a crucifix or the family Bible, to create a sense of sacredness. It could also mean being on time, dressing appropriately, and turning off cell phones.
Join the livestream a few minutes early to spend time in prayer before Mass. During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, pray the Act of Spiritual Communion to more fully unite yourself to Christ during this time when we cannot receive Him in person. After Mass, consider making your Sunday offertory online or by mail – if you are able to give. Your parish is still in need of your support to continue serving you and your family with its ministries and programs when things return to normal.
Finally, remember that this is temporary. Before long, we will all be able to reunite in our parish pews and receive Jesus in the sacraments once again. May this time of temporary separation only increase our longing and desire for relationship with Christ, so that we will rush back to Mass to receive Him upon our return.