It has now been confirmed that there will be no public Masses in Scotland from 19th March, and England and Wales from the evening of Friday 20th March. Not being able to go to Mass on a Sunday can be very distressing, but over a long period of time it can also take its toll on your spiritual life. To prevent that from happening, here are some things you can do when you can’t go to Mass.
Make a Spiritual Communion
(You can find the below information in A Simple Prayer Book.)
Spiritual Communion is the heartfelt desire to receive Our Lord, even when we are unable because of the distance or for some other reason. This desire to receive him through spiritual Communion is an act of love which prolongs our thanksgiving even when we are not in the Eucharistic presence of Our Lord. The wish to live constantly in his presence can be fuelled by acts of love and desire to be united with him and is a means of drawing more deeply from the life of the Holy Spirit dwelling within our souls in the state of grace.
‘The effects of a sacrament can be received by desire. Although in such a case the sacrament is not received physically … nevertheless the actual reception of the sacrament itself brings with it fuller effect than receiving it through desire alone’.
(St Thomas Aquinas)
Act of Spiritual Communion by St Alphonsus Liguori
My Jesus, I believe that You are truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as being already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Watch Mass live:
It may not be the same as being there, but if you can watch a Mass online it will help you to maintain your Sunday routine and to remind yourself that Sunday is the Lord’s day. Some options for watching Mass online:
👉 The Dominican Sisters of St Joseph live stream and record Mass every day, as well as the Rosary, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the Divine Office. They have a schedule on their website so that you know what time to be in front of your screen if you want to watch it live.
👉 Mass Online and Live Mass offer links to Mass being streamed in many churches across the world. Both websites give a schedule of when Masses take place local time and allow you to save them to Google Calendar in advance to remind you.
Read the Mass readings of the day
Even when you can’t attend Mass, following the prayers and readings of the Mass at home is helpful to make Sunday holy. To that end, The CTS New Sunday Missal 2020 is now only £1. However, if you prefer to treat yourself to a beautiful hardback edition, take a look at our full selection of missals.
More of a digital person? The Magnificat App is currently free to help all those unable to attend Mass. The UK edition is available on Android and on iOS. Meanwhile, Universalis is a great purchase if you can afford it as it contains Mass readings, Lectio Divina, and the Divine Office in full. It costs £10.99 to buy. Available on Android and iOS.
Meditate on the Mass readings
Spend time meditating on the Sunday Mass readings and discerning what God might be telling you through them, using Lectio Divina an ancient method of prayer. There are great resources on how to do this, such as this a helpful video, and this written guide on IgnatianSpirituality.com, and our own our Lectio Divina booklet.
Watch a video of a priest preaching on the day’s Gospel
Many incredible new ministries are springing out during this uncertain time, and one of those is Lent in Isolation. Every day, listen to the day’s Mass readings, watch a priest proclaim the Gospel, and then listen to his homily.
Join an online community praying together daily
During this difficult time, it is more important than ever to join together in prayer, to utilise technology to form new communities so that no one is left feeling isolated. We will be posting prayers every day on Hozana for morning, midday, and evening, and an act of Spiritual Communion on Sundays.
Mark the Lord’s day
When you’re housebound for weeks on end, you may find it harder to notice that it’s a Sunday as it becomes just the same as every other day. It’s more important than ever then to mark the Sabbath. You might like to make an effort to wear your”Sunday best” even if you’re not leaving the house, or to have a day free from screens, pray the rosary together as a household, or something else. Perhaps, if your circumstances allow, you could make a special effort to do something nice for someone in self-isolation, whether that’s a relative or a neighbour.
If you are unable to get to Mass, you are not committing a sin by not going.
Very often when people can’t get to Mass because of sickness or some other reason, people worry that they are committing a sin. As Catholics, we know the importance of going to Sunday Mass which is why the Church tells us that not going is a grave sin. However, this does not include those who are physically unable to get to Mass through no fault of their own. This means if you are unwell, in self-isolation, or for some other reason you cannot get to Mass, you are not committing a sin because in those instances you are not required to attend Mass
There are many reasons why you might not be able to get to Mass, but please be assured that in that case, it is not sinful. God is a Father who loves us dearly, not a fearful dictator waiting to punish us.