NAVIGATING THE NEW NORMAL ON SUNDAY

If you’re like me, you are so over the pandemic. We’re tired of physical distancing, tired of wearing masks, tired of the anxiety and worry about our loved ones. And we’re still struggling with going back to Mass on Sunday.

It’s OK. As we know, feelings are just that. It’s what you do with them that’s important.

The adult Christian knows that much of life is about doing things not because we necessarily want to, but because they need to be done. Right now, we know we need to take a big breath and carry on being responsible.

That goes for Sunday Mass, too.

Let’s face it, going to Sunday Eucharist is an exercise in controlling our anxiety and irritation, trying to get past the restraints on social interaction and focusing on the sacrament unfolding in front of us. It isn’t easy.

The mask is uncomfortable. We can’t get near our friends and neighbours. The priest seems distant and we struggle with the distractions. We are not allowed to sing.

Still, those willing to get past all this are showing up and standing in solidarity with their fellow parishioners and their church. People who go have been extolling their happiness to be back and the joy it has brought back to their lives. Even in this diminished context, the Mass reminds them why they are Catholic in a very concrete way.

For many Catholics, however, returning to the Church isn’t possible. They are in vulnerable categories, either elderly, suffering from compromised immunity, or in regular contact with those who are at risk of being infected with Covid-19. Or they simply are not emotionally ready for the disconcerting — and scary — new reality.

Fortunately, North American dioceses, for the most part, are still allowing live-streamed Masses. Though watching such Masses does not replace actual in-person attendance, they do provide prayerful experiences with an emphasis on the Eucharist, the source and summit of Catholic life. We can pray with the presiding priest, listen reverently to the scriptures, attend to the homily and pray for ourselves and the world in solidarity with those fortunate enough to be there in person.

Whether attending in person, or participating in a live-streamed Mass, you can find help with a worship aid such as Living with Christ. Purists might argue that we are supposed to listen at Mass, not read. But our readers have proven over 85 years, that a textual aid such as Living with Christ helps them have a richer experience of Sunday liturgy.

Reading along, whether in a social-distanced pew or at home in front of a computer or television screen, can help participants understand more clearly what is being said. The printed word reinforces the spoken word, giving readers two powerful ways to absorb the Word and prayers. It also makes it easier to participate orally as they can read aloud those parts of the Mass assigned to the congregation.

Having Living with Christ in your hand, whether the missalette or annual Sunday Missal, is also a tangible connection with Catholics around the world. There is something inspiring about knowing that everywhere on earth, Catholics are using these same words (in their own languages, of course) to celebrate their relationship with God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Covid or no covid, we can still be together spiritually. And take heart, we have learned that this too will pass.

Joseph Sinasac, Publishing Director, Novalis

More info about Living with Christ can be found here.

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