For many dioceses in the United States, as of today, public celebrations of the Mass have been suspended. In a post published just two days ago, Tim O’Malley affirmed that, even if we cannot attend Mass, we can still participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice of Jesus, and indeed, that our sadness over not being able to attend Mass “is itself the Eucharistic sacrifice that many of the baptized will be called to offer.”
Now that we have been called upon to offer that particular sacrifice, how can we do so in the concrete particularities of our homes? What does the Eucharistic sacrifice look like if you can’t attend Mass? Many people will watch Mass and pray along via livestream, but if that doesn’t appeal, or if you don’t have Internet access, here’s another form of spiritual participation in the Eucharist to try in your home:
Begin with the Sign of the Cross.
Pray a Penitential Act: Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Read the readings for the day. These are available on the USCCB website (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops), or, the monthly publications Magnificat and Give Us This Day have each made their resources available for free online during this difficult time. Even if you’re alone, proclaim the readings aloud, and if possible, stand for the Gospel, just as you would for Mass. Posture and proclamation help you to embody your encounter with the Scriptures in ways that just reading them silently does not.
Spend a few moments in silent reflection on the readings, or, if you have roommates or a family, spend some time in conversation. What stood out to you? What might God be asking of you through these readings?
Recite the Apostles’ Creed.
Offer up petitions for the good of the Church, the world, the local community, your family. If you’re gathered with family or friends, take turns. These don’t have to be fancy or even eloquent. Just pray from the depths of your heart, trusting that God hears you.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer.
If you’re able to do so, kneel down, and make the Act of Spiritual Communion. Spend a few moments in silence, asking Jesus to be with you, trusting that he is.
End with the Sign of the Cross.
This simple order can be followed for Sundays and daily Masses. Here are some ways to make this time more intentional and beautiful:
- If possible, set aside a particular space in your home and a consistent time in your day for this prayer.
- Focus your attention with a holy image, perhaps of the Last Supper or the Crucifixion.
- Light and extinguish candles to signal the beginning and the end of your prayer.
- Incorporate music, either by playing a recording, or, if you have musical talent yourself or in your family, sing a favorite hymn or two.
Not being able to participate in the celebration of the Mass, not being able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist—these are indeed great crosses many of us have now been asked to bear. But as we are reminded again and again throughout the Lenten season, this is the call of the Christian life: to take up our crosses daily and follow Jesus (see Luke 9:23), to offer all of our sufferings and unite them with Jesus’ sacrifice of self-giving love, poured out upon the Cross.
Most importantly, if/when we are called upon to sacrifice even our participation in the sacrifice of the Mass, let us never lose hope. For the One whom we receive in the Eucharist has not abandoned us, nor will he ever abandon us. So then let us abandon ourselves to God with confidence, trusting in the One who continually reassures us: “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
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Featured image: Martin Gommel via flickr; CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0.