We are in a time when we cannot go to our normal place of worship and celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the rest of our church community. Yet the third commandment tells us that we are to keep holy the sabbath day! It has been suggested that we watch Mass online or on TV. This is a wonderful opportunity for the domestic Church (which is the family) to delve deeper into the beauty of the Mass.
Below are suggested tips for reverently viewing Mass from home. Be sure to read them all well in advance and have the children help get things ready. Most all the tips are very kid-friendly, and they will truly enjoy the Mass much more if they help prepare!
1. All on Board
First, discuss with your family members when you will all come together for Mass. Keeping with your family’s normal routine would be ideal, so a good idea is to choose a time close to when you would ordinarily attend Mass on Sunday. However, if you decide to watch a live stream, then your time frame might need to change. Online Mass links are at the end of the article. Another option is to watch a televised Mass. EWTN broadcast theirs on Sunday at 7:00am, 11:00am and 6:00pm, as well as every day of the week.
2. Technology Check
Check out the different options for watching Mass and see what best fits your family. Of course, viewing on a bigger screen would be ideal versus using a phone. Do a test run sometime beforehand to make sure all is good to go. Trying to figure things out right before you are scheduled to watch can really take away from the atmosphere of reverence that you are trying to establish. This is also a good time to print out the readings for the day and the Mass responses if you would like to follow along during Mass. Once again, links can be found at the end.
3. Prepare the Worship Space
Choose a space where you would have a good view of the screen and where you can set up some chairs to make a pew or two. Yes, resist the temptation to lounge on the couch or the recliner! You should not be so comfortable that you are tempted to fall asleep during Mass. (Is that why the pews are so hard in church?) Remember we also kneel and stand in Mass, so make sure you have enough space for that.
4. Set up a Home Altar
Somewhere close to the viewing screen, set up a small table. A simple TV tray would work. This is Lent and the liturgical color is purple, so put something purple on your home altar. A scarf, a t-shirt or even a purple piece of paper. Then put an unlit candle on or two on the altar. How about a crucifix? Maybe some spring flowers that are sprouting up in the lawn. This is a step that you can definitely let the children do – and the home altar can stay up all during Lent and into the Easter season! Just be sure to change out the purple color to white for Easter.
5. Shortly Before Mass
Dress up! Put on the nice clothes that you would normally wear when traveling out to go to Mass in your church community. This is a special event, so don’t wear your pajamas, even though you are in the comfort of your home. Make sure all distractions (phones and other electronic devices) are turned off and put away. Toys should also be put away. “Arrive” at least 5 minutes early before the viewing is to start. Have the children light the candles on your home altar. Spend some quiet time in prayer.
6. During Mass
Actively participate! Sing the songs, say the prayer responses. Stand, kneel or sit at the appropriate times during Mass. Make sure to hold hands during the Our Father and share a kiss of peace with each other. That human touch is important during this time of social distancing. Resist the temptation to talk or get up and go to the bathroom. Act as if you were truly in the large church building with others around you and quietly and reverently take part for the entire hour.
7. After Mass
Donuts? Breakfast Tacos? Go to Grandma’s? Try to do whatever you normally do after Mass on Sundays. It might mean making your breakfast tacos or donuts at home if you normally go out for those things. You could Skype Grandma for a visit. Make sure to include time to discuss the readings and homily. Also get feedback from all family members as to what went well or what might need tweaking for your next home viewing of the Mass, for this might be the new norm this for a while.
Links to help the Domestic Church:
Online Mass Options
Mass readings, the order of the Mass text, Liturgy of the Hours
Sunday Mass Prep for Kids (coloring page and video)
© Rose of Sharon