Moments ago I received a recorded telephone message from my parish to tell me that there was going to be a livestream of the Sunday Mass tomorrow. This filled me with joy, an amount of joy that is actually hard to come by in this crazy world we’ve awoken in, because even though there are many options to watch Masses and Divine Liturgies from parishes across America, and even around the world, there’s something special and comforting about your home parish.
(You can tune in at 10am Phoenix time on Sunday https://www.facebook.com/SaintAndrewAZ/)
So what are the rules for attending your parish liturgy from your couch? I thought I’d go over some questions people have had and give my recommendations on how to watch a livestreamed Mass during the coronavirus pandemic:
1. Do we have to fast?
This is an interesting question because technically you won’t be receiving the Eucharist (unless you are in the diocese of Fort Worth and can receive after Mass when the priest brings the Eucharist out to the parking lot).
But that doesn’t mean we should be sitting on the couch eating Doritos, while the presiding priest offers to the Father the Immaculate Victim on the altar. If you went to Mass, but knew ahead of time you wouldn’t be receiving the Eucharist for any handful of reasons, would you eat and drink in the pews?
I think the same logic should apply to this situation. Maybe not an hour fast before receiving, but at least put the chips down when the Mass begins.
2. Can I watch from bed?
There’s nothing to keep you from watching the Mass from your bed, and if you are ill you may not be able to get out of bed, but this isn’t the case for most of us. I have to admit, I have watched Mass from bed a few time, but usually because I was too sick to go to my parish, so staying in bed made sense.
If we are watching Mass from home because the public celebrations have been suspended, but are otherwise well, then we should be up and dressed as if we were physically present in the church.
So far those questions, and a few variations of them, are the only ones I’ve received from readers about livestream Mass.
Here are a couple recommendations:
1. Go to Usccb.org and read the Mass readings before attending the liturgy
I actually recommend this if you are attending Mass during a regular situation or a livestream during a coronavirus pandemic. Knowing ahead of time what the readings are, and meditating on them for some time, will help you hear God’s voice speaking to you through the scriptures.
2. Assume the proper postures during the Mass.
When the Mass starts you should stand up, also stand during the Gospel reading and the offertory…
3. Say the responses and actively participate.
When father says “the Lord be with you,” you respond “and with your spirit.” You kids may look at you funny, but if you’re anything like me you probably yell at your tv while watching jeopardy, sports, or presidential debates, so they’re probably more used to it that you think lol.
4. Make a spiritual communion.
This can be done in a number of ways, but essentially you are expressing your desire to the Lord for him to come into your soul and give you the spiritual benefits that you’d normally receive from receiving Him in the Blessed Sacrament. It can be as simple as saying, “Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, even though I’m unable to receive you physically, I welcome you spiritually. Come into my heart and stay with me always.”
Or if you’d like a more formal prayer, I love this one that comes from the Byzantine tradition:
5. Don’t come late, and don’t leave early.
You have a zero minute commute. You don’t have to worry about traffic or finding a parking spot, there’s really nothing to keep you from being on time. And don’t turn off the stream until you’ve received the final blessing. In today’s world, we need all the blessings we can get.
6. Remember to pray for your priest, and all priests.
This is a difficult time for them too, as they try to remain healthy, and to simultaneously look after the spiritual health of their parishioners. They are our spiritual fathers, so pray for them like you would your own biological father.