“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, no. 3)
Below are some spiritual resources to assist families and individuals who are unable to participate in Mass on Sunday or other days due to health concerns, caregiving responsibilities, or in view of dispensations given in the Archdiocese of Atlanta due to public health concerns and safety (for updates, check here). The Lord Jesus and His gift of self in the Eucharist remain at the center of our lives. The Archdiocese encourages families and individuals to consider the following:
Live and Honor the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Christian Life
- The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], no. 1324).
- When church buildings reopen, visit and pray before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament whenever possible (as health and circumstances allow), especially on Sundays.
- Where opportunities to adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance exist at parishes via livestream or as parish buildings reopen, make time to adore the Lord Jesus and pray for the needs of your families, friends, neighbors, community, the Church, and the world.
- Unite your daily prayers and sacrifices with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which continues to be celebrated daily by our priests, and make acts of spiritual communion. Morning offerings such as this prayer unite our prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of the day to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.
- Educate your children and young people about the Mass (see Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nos. 1322-1419) and help them understand that the Mass continues to be celebrated by our priests, remaining at the heart of the Church’s life.
- The Eucharist commits us to the poor (CCC, no. 1397). Be especially close to those in your family, neighborhood, or parish community whom you know to be in particular physical or spiritual need. For those who are vulnerable or homebound, find ways to stay regularly connected (daily calls and texts, etc.) and pray with and for them.
Make the Word of God in Sacred Scripture Dwell in Your Hearts and Homes
- Read and pray the daily Mass readings in your homes and especially on Sundays. Spend time meditating on the Word of God and discussing it with your family and others for whom you are caring.
- Pray the Liturgy of the Hours, especially Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, together as a family, especially on Sundays. Apps and online resources are available.
- Learn more about praying with Sacred Scripture through lectio divina (divine or holy reading), where you read (lectio) a passage of the Bible slowly several times, meditate (meditatio) on the passage and how it applies to your life (entering into the story), pray (oratio) and converse with the Lord about the passage, and then contemplate (contemplatio) God’s Word by resting in and listening to Him. Various resources are available online.
Keep Sunday, the Lord’s Day, Holy
- In addition to the above considerations, honor the Lord by living Sundays distinctly: make time for more family prayer and time together; refrain from office work or unnecessary labor; take a break from technology and spend time with others. To reflect more on the gift of Sunday, read St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (On Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy).
- Pray the Rosary together as a family and find other devotions that can be taken up on Sundays and throughout the week.
- Ask for the Holy Family’s intercession and protection and consider taking steps to grow as a Domestic Church.
Recommit to Live Your Baptismal Consecration to the Full and Exercise Your Common Priesthood
- Recall the grace and anointing of received at your Baptism (and at your Confirmation). Pray for a continual outpouring of the Holy Spirit to grow in holiness and as a missionary disciple, relying on the grace and gifts you have received through the sacraments. Remember, through Baptism, that we share in Christ’s offices as Priest, Prophet, and King.
- Pray for continual conversion and for those in special need of the Lord’s mercy and healing.
- Find ways to pray more with your spouse and family.
- Live Fridays as days of sacrifice and penance. Offer fasting and sacrifices for those most in need. Consider praying the Stations of the Cross as a family on Fridays.
- Live the Liturgical season as a family. Celebrate feast days (including baptismal anniversaries), ask for the intercession of the saints, especially patron/name saints, pray and read the Gospel of the day as a family, etc.
- Grow in becoming an evangelizing witness, as an individual and as a family.
Pray for and Stay Connected with Those Most Vulnerable
- As mentioned above, find ways to stay connected with those who risk being the most isolated due to the current health concerns (e.g., the elderly, homebound, the sick, etc.).
- Pray daily for an end to the coronavirus and related health concerns and crisis.
- Check with your pastor if you have any time to offer to meet needs that arise at the parish in maintaining a ministry of presence through phone calls, texts, and other means.