Rejoice, friends! It's Laetare Sunday and in case quarantine has you distracted from the liturgical calendar, it's STILL Lent. Over the last couple of weeks it seems like all I've done is attempt to reorganize and create a new normal which I'm sure we are all doing. The virus has brought challenges to all of our lives to say the least yet I have also been struck by the blessings in disguise it has brought for those who are blessed with their health. Overall, it has forced all of us to re-prioritize, to think about the lives that we were leading and what we want them to look like going forward. What a surreal experience! It took something like this to make the entire world reorient ourselves to our families, prayer, home life, and genuine leisure, Josef Pieper style. In addition to that I see this beautiful and genuine desire for unification with our Parish community which is truly a work of the Holy Spirit. I'm going to go through a few topics that are circling around me and hopefully they will be helpful in getting us through our current situation and create lasting family traditions for all of us.
Social media has been flooding my feed with lots of great online resources since all of this has happened and I'm going to have a moment of truth and say that I have been sucked into scrolling, ALOT! I had to remind myself to find the resources that I like for our family and then get off and go live them out. Following streaming prayers and liturgies is a great way to stay connected with the community in prayer, but we also want to make sure we are engaging in private prayer. I know the silence can be uncomfortable but it can also be very nurturing to our relationship with God, how often do we sit and let God speak? We can also take this time away from our technology to pray together, perhaps a family rosary, read about a saint together, offer up a prayer for each child, read scripture together, etc. I would highly recommend integrating the Liturgy of the Hours into your family's prayer life. It is a part of the Church's communal prayer and allows us to obey the exhortation to "pray without ceasing". The Liturgy of the Hours is prayed throughout the world each day and, now more than ever, can unite us to the Universal Church. If you are interested in doing this check out this resource!
You could also use the "Laudate" or "iBreviary" apps.
This link below will walk you through how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
"Family prayer has for its very own object family life itself, which in all its varying circumstances is seen as a call from God and lived as a filial response to His call." Familiaris Consortio, 59
The Solemnity of the Annunciation is Wednesday and is one of only two times during Lent that we can sing the Gloria so open those windows and belt it out! Look at this quote I found today while reflecting on the Annunciation.
"Him whom the Heavens cannot contain, the womb of one woman bore." St. Augustine
We still have so much to pray and be thankful for on this day in which the Word becomes flesh, God becomes incarnate! This day we celebrate with heaven that the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her she would be the mother of our Lord. I think it’s time to pull the "Imitation of Mary" off the shelf and give it a re-read. In Sweden, Christians will eat waffles on the Feast of the Annunciation, because the feast's name, in Swedish, is called Vårfrudagen ("Our Lady's Day") which sounds awfully similar to the Swedish word Våffeldagen (Waffle Day). Honestly, if I were saying either word they would probably be spoken incorrectly but there is one thing I can get right, waffles! We do breakfast for dinner and we pray a rosary together, consider doing this in your home too.
Below are some resources for prayer, activities, and learning
Free Online Access to the Magnificat https://us.magnificat.net/?fbclid=IwAR1xA0kvoODVfI3vukZ7Scyu8Ge_oQByqgciWZ-s8LA-cI6AZCJNGzDRng8
For Catholic Crafts https://www.catholicicing.com/
Spiritual Resources for Prayer, Reflection, and Mass in English and Spanish https://www.archgh.org/spiritualresources?fbclid=IwAR1xA0kvoODVfI3vukZ7Scyu8Ge_oQByqgciWZ-s8LA-cI6AZCJNGzDRng8
Ascension Presents w/ Father Mike Schmitz https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVdGX3N-WIJ5nUvklBTNhAw
USCCB Prayer Resources During Covid https://catholiccurrent.org/covid19/?fbclid=IwAR1uS8X8XawpHWmmYo3YcnUbhp68pFcyTHzI6LqIsoSEQRjD0qoy_kVY9V4
Virtual Catholic Men's Conference April 3-5 https://www.virtualcatholicconference.com/Mensconference2020?r_done=1&fbclid=IwAR3Qq6y7mZLFKAup1Izyab0yM6gUXAgO00l8VqTQD9pzu7si50i9KCABKg8
Catholic Education https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/
While the obligation to attend Mass has currently been lifted due to our circumstances, the Church has still called us to keep the Lord's day by praying together as a family in our homes.
If participation in the Eucharistic celebration becomes impossible because of the absence of a sacred minister or for another grave cause, it is strongly recommended that the faithful take part in a liturgy of the word if such a liturgy is celebrated in a parish church or other sacred place according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop or that they devote themselves to prayer for a suitable time alone, as a family, or, as the occasion permits, in groups of families.
Where Do I Find Mass Online?
For many of us still trying to participate in the Mass to some extent from home this means we will be watching it on our TV. Please remember that Mass on TV is not a substitute for actually attending the Sunday liturgy, I only say this because I worry about confusion once we return to public liturgies. However, most parishes are offering either a live stream or pre-recording of their Mass for you to watch at home which I encourage you to engage in for the time being. It is still highly important that we unite ourselves to the Church through prayer and the Paschal Mystery.
Here is a link for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston that has streaming times for all of our parishes as well as additional broadcasts from Guadalupe Radio Network, EWTN, and the Vatican.
Preparation and Reverence
If you are streaming the Mass, prepare and participate in the usual ways. It is very easy to watch the Mass like we do our favorite programs because of our mental associations between screens and entertainment. I would recommend waking up, getting ready, and putting on your Mass clothes. Just by doing this we are physically reminding ourselves that we are doing something Sacred in our homes. Join the live stream early so you can prepare yourself just as you would show up to Church early. Have your computer or TV in a prayerful environment, perhaps do this by removing all other distractions, including cell phones, and lighting one candle next to it. While you are watching Mass, participate in the same ways that you usually would by saying the responses, kneeling/standing, following along with the readings, etc. Reverence before the Blessed Sacrament still needs to happen, even though we are bound by time, space, and TVs, Christ is not! He is there before you, gaze upon the sacrifice of the Eucharist with an adoring heart.
What is Spiritual Communion?
This term has come up a lot this week because of the current situation and I think it can be a very fruitful way for us to unite ourselves to the Eucharist. When a person cannot attend Mass they can make an Act of Spiritual Communion which stems from a long understanding in the Church of how we can increase our desire to receive sacramental Communion.
From the Council of Trent: “With respect to the use [of the Eucharist], however, our fathers rightly and wisely distinguished three types of reception of this holy sacrament [of the Eucharist]….others receive only spiritually [without receiving it sacramentally], namely those who have the desire to eat the heavenly food that is set before them, and so experience its effect and benefit by a lively faith working through love.” [Session 13, chapter 8].
In other words, watching Mass on the TV or joining in family prayer is drawing us into a type of spiritual communion with the larger Church, but more formally speaking by making the Act you are intentionally cultivating a desire in your heart to receive the Eucharist and you are allowing that grace to help you avoid sins and grow in faith. Here is the Act of Spiritual Communion prayer!
A prayer for Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love you above all things and I desire to receive you in my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally,
Come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace you as if you were already there
And unite myself wholly to you.
Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
Thanks for stopping by, I hope the resources are helpful and I look forward to seeing all of your waffle dinners this Wednesday. Feel free to share or drop a comment, I'd love to hear what you find helpful as a Quarantined Catholic.