EDINBURGH, Scotland, March 20, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Both the Catholic Church in England and Wales and the Catholic Church in Scotland have announced that public Masses will be suspended in these countries indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In England and Wales, the last public Masses will take place on Friday. In Scotland, they will take place on Thursday.
The inability to attend Mass is a hard cross for Catholics to bear anywhere, but it is particularly crushing in Great Britain, where Mass was essentially illegal from the late 16th century until the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1791. That the latest suspension has been ordered by the Catholic bishops themselves is both a new kind of suffering and a total loss of public worship. During civil persecution, Catholics could at least assemble for Mass in secret, ministered to in Scotland by the “heather priests.”
As a substitute for personal attendance at holy worship, the bishops of England and Wales have encouraged Catholics to make a “spiritual communion” and to watch a livestreamed Mass. The bishops of Scotland have added that parish priests should be available to meet with individual Catholics to give them the sacraments “as and when they are needed,” especially for the sick and housebound.
Barring an invitation to a private Mass, it seems, then, that the best way to keep the Sabbath Day holy in every place where public Mass is suspended is indeed to watch Mass from afar. I have a Master of Divinity degree, but I must confess that since the end of the Cold War I have never imagined a situation in which European or North American Catholics would be forbidden to attend Sunday Mass. However, here are my suggestions for making the best of Mass from home.
We could turn a room or area of our own dwellings into a temporary chapel where the entire household can watch Mass ― and individuals can slip away to pray whenever they like. Many dioceses around the world did not have public Masses last Sunday, and on social media, I saw a wonderful photograph of a large family assembling for Mass in a room set aside for worship. They had set up rows of chairs in front of the wall on which someone was projecting a live-streamed Mass. If a household lacks the technical knowhow or equipment to project a broadcast, then the largest computer or television screen in the house, set up on a decorated table or home altar, will have to do.
Saint John Paul II told families that we are the “domestic church”; well, let’s see how well we can make this a Sunday reality. To keep everything as normal as possible, as well as to continue to show respect for the Lord, let’s dress ourselves and our children in our Sunday best before we watch the Mass. Let’s also continue our rituals around Sunday Mass, keeping the fast, and celebrating Sunday brunch or Sunday supper, with all the usual Sunday treats, even if we have to cook or bake them ourselves instead of buying them or ordering them at our favorite diner.
Any other Sunday family prayers, such as the Evening Office or the Holy Rosary, should be prayed as usual, although this is probably not the time to introduce lengthy new devotions. That said, even small children, awed by the novelty of watching Mass from home, will probably tolerate the introduction of new prayers for the sick and an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
Families who are unable to access a livestreamed Mass on the internet or find a Mass broadcast on television could also create a temporary chapel or prayer space in the home. The continuing importance of Mass would be impressed upon the children if a traditional Missa Sicca (“Dry Mass”) were read aloud by the eldest man in the family or, if there isn’t an adult man in the household, the mother of the family. A Missa Sicca at home doesn’t usually have a homily, but reading some catechetical material to children after the Gospel sounds both natural and good.
Please find below a traditional Missa Sicca or “Dry Mass” that can be said at home, and do have as happy a Sunday as you can.
Missa Sicca Pro Ecclesia Domestica (Dry Mass for the Domestic Church)
Sign of the Cross:
In the name of the Father + and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Introit: read the Introit verse of today’s Mass [or sing an Entrance Hymn]
I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word and deed (strike breast three times): through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary ever virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the saints, to pray to the Lord Our God for me. + May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to life everlasting. Amen.
Lord, have mercy./x3
Christ, have mercy./x3
Lord, have mercy./x3
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. We praise You, we bless You, we adore You, we glorify You, we give You thanks for Your great glory, Lord God, Heavenly King, O God, Almighty Father. Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; You take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. You are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Collect: read the collect of the day
Reading[s]: read today’s epistle [or readings]
Gradual, Alleluia/Tract (and Sequence): read them as given in the propers of the day
Gospel: read the gospel of the day
The Nicene Creed
Let us pray. It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give You thanks, Lord, Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. For out of compassion for the waywardness that is ours, He humbled Himself and was born of the Virgin; by the passion of the Cross He freed us from unending death, and by rising from the dead He gave us life eternal. And so, with angels and archangels, with thrones and dominions and with all the host and powers of Heaven, we sing the hymn of Your glory, as without end we acclaim:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and Earth are full of Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Invocation of the Saints:
Almighty God, may our prayers be joined to the intercession of the glorious every virgin Mary Mother of God; also of the blessed Joseph, her spouse, and likewise of your blessed Apostles and martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Thaddeus, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, of all thy saints. Grant for the sake of their merits and prayers in all things we may be guarded and helped by Your protection. + Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for the Living:
Be mindful, O Lord, of N… our Pope, N… our Bishop, N… our Priest, Your servants and handmaids N… and N…, and of those entrusted to my care, for whom this sacrifice of praise is offered, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered by Your ordained priests throughout the world. Grant, O Lord, the redemption of their souls and the hope of their safety and salvation.
Prayer for the Dead:
Be mindful, also, O Lord, of Your servants and handmaids N… and N… who are gone before us with the sign of faith and who sleep the sleep of peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, grant, we beseech You, a place of refreshment, light and peace. + Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for Eternal Happiness:
To us also Your sinful servants, who put our trust in the multitude of Your mercies, vouchsafe to grant some part and fellowship with Your holy Apostles and martyrs: with John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, and all your saints. Into their company we beseech You admit us, not considering our merits, but freely pardoning our offenses. + Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Spiritual Communion [to be said by all]:
My Jesus, I believe that You are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I long for You in my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though You have already come, I embrace You and unite myself entirely to You; never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
The Last Gospel (John 1:1–14)