We’re often asked whether we are introverted or extroverted. Well, being quarantined at home all for several days has confirmed that I am an extrovert. Because of “social distancing,” I’m learning how important it is to creatively find ways to maintain connection and community with those I love most.
Thankfully, on the day the President declared a national emergency due to the coronavirus, my older brother organized a group chat for our family to check in on each other and to provide support. This included my parents, my siblings, and their spouses. Every day, someone is sending a positive word or a funny meme to help keep our spirits high. Some have shared prayers for a time of quarantine, and others have shared links to view the Mass on YouTube. All of this sharing sparked an idea…
A Change of Sunday Community
Last Sunday, while public Masses were still taking place in my Archdiocese, my family chose to stay home. Both my husband and daughter had coughs, and even though the Archbishop had lifted the Sunday obligation to attend Mass and encouraged those who were showing symptoms to stay home, it was not a decision we took lightly.
This upcoming Sunday, however, most of us will not even have the opportunity to go to our local parishes and celebrate the Mass with our communities, as most dioceses have cancelled public masses. Besides the obvious absence of receiving the Eucharist sacramentally, this is also sad communally, and my husband and I miss our weekly pew neighbors already.
However, this unique time is opening a door to praying the Sunday readings with my extended family.
A Rare Opportunity
My husband and I live a state away from both of our families, so getting together with them is always a cherished time for us. I have three brothers and three sisters, which makes having my entire side of the family together at one time a feat. So while social distancing makes it nearly impossible for me to see my siblings and my parents, I am somewhat used to not seeing them regularly.
The fact that we are all now living quarantined in our homes has provided a rare opportunity, and in some ways, a more feasible way for my extended family to virtually come together both in daily communication and in prayer.
This Sunday, technology is allowing my family to pray through the Sunday readings together.
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Skyping on the Sabbath
On the homepage of Skype’s video chat page it reads, “In today’s always-on-the-go world, it can be difficult to get groups of friends, family members or coworkers together in one place.”
The first half of that sentence now seems almost comical: our “always-on-the-go world” has come to a screeching halt.
But the second half has never been more true: for many of us it is impossible to get groups of friends, family members, or coworkers together in one place.
Maybe now more than ever, Skype provides a great and free opportunity to video chat using a phone, tablet, or computer.
Here are the steps my family plans to take in order to use this resource to pray through the Mass together.
Invite + Find Out Who is Available
Based on where all of my siblings live, a group chat with everyone would require at least six different devices to be used.
Because we want each participating family unit to have a part assigned, I am asking each of them to let me know if they are available at the set time on Sunday morning.
Based on how many people you have participating, you can be flexible with who leads what prayer. If there are six different groups joining together, here is an example of how you could separate it out:
- Have one family choose an opening hymn to lead and sing as a family. This is something that could be e-mailed out ahead of time so that each member of the family can read the lyrics.
- Have one family choose someone to read the First Reading and the Psalm.
- Have one family choose someone to read the Second Reading and the verse before the Gospel.
- Have one family choose someone to read the Gospel.
- Have one family write general intercessions and pray them aloud.
- Have one family lead the Our Father prayer and choose and lead a closing hymn.
At the end, you could all pray the St. Michael Prayer together. This is a powerful prayer of protection, but it is also extremely appropriate as St. Michael the Archangel is the Saint you can go to in times of sickness, and specifically to pray for our grocers, doctors, and police force.
God is Near!
Skyping on the sabbath and praying through the Mass readings from the day together is a powerful addition to your attendance of Mass from your home. Use this time of isolation to grow closer to the ones you hold most dear.
Sister Miriam James Heidland recently quoted St. John Paul II who said:
For people of faith, there are no coincidences, only aspects of God’s providence that we have not yet fully understood.
In this time of waiting and uncertainty, let us find comfort in the Lord’s promise in Psalm 91:4, that “His faithfulness is a protecting shield.”
You are in my prayers! Persevere!
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