Individual families can use this resource for free. Just visit http://worship.pastoral.center.
These are extraordinary times. Many of us are unable to attend public Mass for an extended period. This is... not ideal.
It is a HUGE opportunity to help families own their faith.
Worship@Home is a free online resource to help families with children pray together at home while we are unable to gather for Sunday Mass, right from their iPad or phone. It is based on and inspired by Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest: Leader's Guide (promulgated by the U.S. Bishops) and the Directory for Masses with Children (from the Congregation for Divine Worship).
It gently coaches parents and their families through the age-appropriate prayer experience, and even makes it a little fun.
Wait... Back Up, Did You Just Say This Is a Huge Opportunity?
It sure is! Think about it for a minute.
We're always talking about how parents are the first teachers of their children in faith, and then we lament that they don't act like it. Many have essentially delegated their job to catechists (and we let them do this). The result, is that the faith is not "sticking," and younger generations are leaving the church. Study after study tells us that what makes the difference is the role parents play.
So here's the opportunity:
- Many families are cooped up in their homes, without much to do. They are bored. In some, kids are bouncing off the walls.
- Most cannot attend public Mass or any other church services or events.
- Families are anxious, confused, and worried. Most of us have an even greater need for prayer at this time.
- It's Lent, for heaven's sake!
- Many parents are not comfortable leading their families in prayer. They have not been equipped or coached well to do so.
- The best way to learn how to do something is to DO it (with a little coaching support).
What if the Holy Spirit could somehow use this mess we're in to teach families how to pray together and build up the domestic church?
But Shouldn't Families Watch Mass Online or On Television?
Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting canon law, states:
If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families."
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2183
We are certainly within "grave cause" territory, and the social distancing demands to keep our communities safe keep us from gathering in a church, other sacred space (with the exception a home), or as groups of families. "Participation in the celebration of the Eucharist" clearly refers to in-person presence (when that is possible). In-person worship is the priority, whether it is Mass or not.
There is nothing wrong with people watching Mass remotely, and it is wonderful that the gift of technology makes this available. Some who are homebound watch Mass in this way regularly. At this time (if your parish has the technical capabilities to live stream), this is a way for a parish to remain connected and in solidarity and to hear a common message. It's a particularly good option for an individual living alone.
(Note: If your parish is choosing to livestream or tape-delay Mass, you should take a close look at the detailed guidelines set forth by the U.S. Bishops .)
And yet, it is not an ideal option for everyone, especially families. Here's why: ...
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The Pastoral Center
Paul Canavese serves as director of The Pastoral Center (PastoralCenter.com), author, frequent conference speaker, and pastoral consultant. He has his MTS from the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley. He directs GrowingUpCatholic.com (focused on coaching parents) and GospelLiving.org ("intentional daily life Catholicism"). He has served in a wide range of parish ministries, most recently as a pastoral consultant at Corpus Christi Parish in Piedmont, CA. Paul also has 20 years of experience in software development and management with technology startups and social media. Along with his wife Ann, two daughters, and seven chickens, he lives in Alameda, CA, where they operate a mini-urban farm and looks for creative ways to build community in their neighborhood.
Ann Naffziger has her MDiv from the Jesuit School of Theology and MA in Biblical Languages from the Graduate Theological Union, both in Berkeley. Ann has worked in a variety of parish roles, as well as serving as a hospital chaplain, spiritual director, scripture instructor, and lecturer at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University. She has written articles in the field of spirituality and scripture for America, BustedHalo.com, Commonweal, The National Catholic Reporter, Spiritual Life: A Journal of Contemplative Spirituality, and other publications. She is also a Master Gardener and girls' softball coach.