I’m not a stickler for canon law, but I saw this citation in social media:
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. (1248.2)
I’m not a geek for law, but this directive seems sound to me. It doesn’t mention livestreaming or recording Masses. Given the seemlingly large number of canon law experts in the episcopacy (or at least there used to be), do you find it interesting that the word from the cathedra on down is watching Sunday Mass on tv?
In an expanded version of yesterday’s post on the daily Mass readings, let me suggest a real liturgy in this time of pandemic. An individual, couple, or family could go whole hog: all the songs, prayers, readings, intercessions of the Mass from beginning to end–just not sharing the Eucharist. What would that look like?
- Song of Praise
- Sign of the Cross
- Penitential Rite (Confiteor, Lord Have Mercy, or even an expression of sorrow for wrongs committed since the last time, plus maybe forgiveness)
- On Sundays, sing the Glory To God. On weekdays, maybe just a prayer of praise to the Trinity, like the Glory Be.
- “Today’s Reading” (upper left) from the US bishops’ website.
- Homily, rotated between parents and even children, or just an open discussion on the Scriptures.
- Creed, Nicene or Apostles’
- Lord’s Prayer
- Sign of Peace
- Prayer of Spiritual Communion
- Song of Praise
I know, I know: a bishop or priest makes it feel more “official.” You can probably find some celebrity bishop or priest doing daily Mass for you, and their homily will be almost as good as what your first-born kid will come up with if you give her or him a day or two to research and reflect on something.
But I’ll be honest: watching it on television is not liturgy. It’s liturgy for the people on the other side of the video cam. But it’s not liturgy for us.
You can argue with me on that point, and we will have a good discussion on it. But I will still say it’s an impoverished experience, even compared to when you do go to MAss and you don’t receive Copmmunion.
Another reason for doing even a basic liturgy like this:
- Gospel Reading
- Our Father (Hail Mary, Glory Be)
… is that you get to own the prayer. The ritual is up to you; you have responsibility to actually put something together for yourself and your loved ones and be committed to it. You have to prepare a little bit. You can’t push the pause button on the recorded Mass, answer the pizza deliverer, go to the bathroom, or rewind to see something funny. You have to live the liturgy you celebrate.
Another point is the whole reason for a daily routine of faith/religion/spirituality/ whatever you call it. It’s a discipline. God makes a demand of you and you respond to the call to commitment. When we emerge from stay-at-home we will be healthier, stronger, more graced disciples. We will be formed by our choice of discipline. Being a daily disciplined disciple will put us in good stead in whatever normal we’ve landed in in the months and years ahead.