When One Can’t Celebrate Mass …

At the Bench, Deacon Greg has polled the three greater New York dioceses for their policy on the confluence of hurricane and Sunday Mass. Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre (Long Island) does offer an alternative if going to church isn’t advisable:

Catholics are encouraged to stay home if their trip to Church might place themselves, their families and others at risk.  We do hope to broadcast the Mass from Saint Agnes Cathedral on Telecare (Cablevision Channel 29/Verizon FiOS 296) on Sunday at the usual times of 11:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M.While at home, Catholics are encouraged to use the time to reflect on the readings and Gospel for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary time.

A non-functioning link is given, (they could have linked the USCCB site’s readings of the day) followed by the texts of the readings: Jeremiah 20:7-9, Psalm 63, Romans 12:1-2, Matthew 16:21-27. If power is out, people will need those Biblical citations if they don’t have a Missal handy.

Do Catholics know what to do with the readings? I mean: besides read them. This is a pretty brief selection of Scripture–only eleven verses, plus seven in the psalm. I like that the diocese cited the psalm, though they didn’t limit the verses as the Lectionary does.

If the storm, God willing, brushes past the mainland with minimal damage, will people echo the prophet, “I let myself be duped?” Will Kate and Will fans recognize the first two verses from their wedding Scripture? Will diehard Catholics ask, “what can I give in exchange for my life?” Then trundle off to church despite warnings to stay home?

We can pretty much conclude a bishop or priest holed up behind battened hatches will do a private Mass and go on from there. But what about lay people? I affirm the confidence our clergy have that a Biblical citation and time on our hands is all the laity need to pray. And yet, wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to give a brief introduction to lectio divina on their web sites?

Still, it’s not a bad thing many Catholics will just get out the beads and pray some multiple of ten Hail Mary’s. Rosary-inclined Catholics could do that anyway, any day. Eighteen Bible verses, though, make for a nice lectio of a half-hour, forty-five minutes. Read through Jeremiah slowly. Tease out one word that strikes you. Read again, then ponder the message for you personally through that one word. Read a third time, and offer up a few prayers for one’s neighbors, country, and world. Repeat with the Psalm, Romans, and gospel. Then finish up with a set of mysteries.

Imagine if Catholics were so steeped in the Scriptures that they could come up with a new set of rosary themes, linked (say) by deliverance from danger: the Holy Family Flees to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15), Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4:35-41), Jesus Calls Lazarus Out of the Tomb (John 11:38-44), Jesus Reassures his Disciples (John 14:1-6), Jesus Entrusts Mary and the Beloved Disciple to Each Other (John 19:25-27).

When you can’t go to Mass, what do you readers do?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Church News, Liturgy, Scripture, spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to When One Can’t Celebrate Mass …

  1. Holly in Nebraska says:

    I like your idea of finding new mysteries to match a situation. What a great suggestion! I think the rosary often comes out in times of stress because it allows one to pray with the level of concentration one has at the moment.
    As for lectio divina, I don’t know that the proper place to introduce someone to a new prayer method is during a time of stress.
    There are lots of internet sites that provide great information on scripture and the readings for mass. A pastor wouldn’t even have to reinvent the wheel on this one. A parish could link to any number of places (yes, please check the links).
    It is definitely better than watching “Irene: The Miniseries” all weekend.

    We do need more emphasis on scripture. How about, “The Year of the Bible”?

  2. Lisa Stice says:

    one could also pray the divine office. These prayers are easily available too.

  3. Susan says:

    Great column and great advice. With winter around the corner (groan, gasp) the northeast may well have other instnces when we are advised to use caution and common sense about getting to Mass. Having a plan in place is excellent! Thanks.

  4. Jimmy Mac says:

    One could watch the mass on EWTN! Or Mama Angelica droning away at the rosary.

    No, I think I’d rather remove filters from old cigarette butts.

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