By Sarah Streitwieser
Ascension Family Life offers you a top-12 list of possible tips that might help your family better participate in virtual Mass. As always, try the ideas that you think might work for your family and disregard the rest. Afterall, family faith is not a 1-size-fits-all reality! Try to have fun with these concepts; approach home-Mass as an adventure, not as a school assignment. Seek to set an appropriately reverent and prayerful tone, but also be flexible and understanding — with yourself and with your family members.
Get dressed up like you normally would for Mass. As a parent, try “surprising” everyone by dressing up for Mass in your Sunday best and see if the idea catches. Lead by example rather than by force; have fun with it! (My husband dressed in his best suit last Sunday, and our kids shrieked with excitement!)
2. Rocking the Readings
Print out the readings before Mass (magnificat.com is offering their digital version for free). Have the printouts ready for everyone to follow along with.
Light a few candles (if you can do so safely) around your home-Mass location. Baptism candles, CRHP candles, and reconciliation candles work particularly well.
4. Hardcore Seating
Set up “pews” made of hardbacked kitchen or dining chairs. Typically, comfortable sofas do not encourage attentiveness or reverent behavior. (My kids lounge backward and get into wrestling matches when we are all crammed on the sofa!)
5. Loving Live Stream
Consider streaming Mass live, rather than the recorded option. It may be helpful for children (and adults) to know that Mass is really happening at that moment. Even though we must be separated from Mass by location, we do not have to be separated by time.
6. Virtual Visitation
Consider occasionally visiting other parishes (virtually) during this time. If you have always wanted to visit Fr. Nathan in Marysville but have not wanted to make the drive, this is your perfect opportunity!
7. Practice Participation
Participate in Mass by singing, responding, kneeling, sitting, standing, and following along with all of the typical gestures.
8. Semantics Matter
Avoid using the phrase, “watch Mass,” to not inadvertently treat virtual Mass like a television show. Now — perhaps even more than ever — we are called to participate in the celebration of Mass.
9. Spiritual Communion
With your family, write a prayer of Spiritual Communion – a prayer that welcomes Jesus into your heart spiritually when you cannot receive Him physically in the Blessed Sacrament. Pray the prayer out loud during Holy Communion. Check out this prayer of Spiritual Communion for children, composed by Fr. Tom, to get ideas.
My Jesus, I know that you love me so very much. I want to show my love for You. How I wish I could receive You today in Holy Communion. I hope that I can do so again very soon. But today I ask that You help me open my heart to receive You spiritually. I know that You always want to be close to me and to all who love You. Help me always to stay close to You. Jesus, I thank You for your great love for me and for my family. Bless all those people whom I love and who love me. Amen.
After Mass, enjoy sweets, treats, or your own version of Sunday donuts. Every Sunday is a celebration.
11. Gratitude and Grief
Gratitude is always the best place to start. We are members a beautiful parish that is filled with vibrant faith. We have the technological capability to livestream Mass and Eucharistic Adoration every day. We have heathy, faithful priests who are shepherding us through this difficult time. BUT, not being able to fully practice our faith during this season is a legitimate hardship. Allow yourself (and your family members) to hold gratitude in one hand and grief in the other. The two realities are not mutually exclusive; both feelings – together – are okay.
12. No Substitutes
During this season, we have a unique opportunity to draw near to Jesus through family and personal prayer, daily Rosary meditations, and Scripture study. While these are invaluable practices, they simply do not compare with the experience of receiving Christ in the Eucharist. If separation from the Eucharist has left a gaping hole in the center of your spiritual life, that is actually a good thing. We should miss Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. We should miss being near Him in the intimacy of Holy Communion. Use this time of abstinence as a catalyst for holy longing. Let desire for Jesus set your heart ablaze for the Eucharist.
Do you have virtual Mass tips that have worked well for your family? List them in the comments below. (Tales of virtual Mass failure are also welcome!)