Mass on TV: Tips for Transforming the Couch into a Pew

Attending Mass virtually these days can be challenging. We are now a few weeks into this period of quarantine and I have to say that I think my family and I are still in the process of exploring ways to keep Sunday holy. We are tweaking little things here and there to make sure our family can fully embrace the experience of Mass as best we can in this new reality. I surveyed my network of Catholic parents to ask for some tips and strategies on what they are doing to bring the richness of the Mass into their living rooms. Here are some great ways to start:

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1. Stick to the Sunday routine. Being home every single day of the week can make the days blend together. For those of us quarantined at home, every day in our pajamas feels like a day of rest, so we must do our best to keep Sunday holy or “set apart.” To make Sunday special, we make sure to put on something respectable for Mass. Our clothing has the power to transform us not only externally but internally. Even when we have nowhere to go, it actually feels good to just go through the motion of dressing up and putting on our Sunday best. 

2. Celebrate the day. On a normal Sunday, our family often goes out to lunch after Mass. In this new normal, we try to have a nice meal together right after Mass. We prepare some delicacies to make the day extra special and celebratory. We keep our nice clothes on, move to the dining room, and extend the celebration of the day as a family. 

3. Stream familiar faces. Most Sundays we try to livestream our regular parish’s Mass. It’s good to see the faces of our friends and hear the voices of our parish priests. It brings me a sense of familiarity and normalcy. We also try to connect with our fellow parishioners online to get a little sense of community. It’s not the same as seeing faces of friends at church, but seeing their names on a livestream can make us smile a little. There is also comfort in knowing that my local parish priests are doing well and coping just fine. Hearing their prayer intentions for the local community and the parish is uplifting. 

We also have the opportunity to connect with other priests and parishes. Modern technology grants us the option to attend Mass from anywhere in the world. So every once in a while, we’ll attend Mass with the Pope, or our local Archbishop, or even Father Dave!

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4. Create a sacred space. If your living room is like ours, then you’ll likely find yourself having to move some toys out of the way when it’s time to kneel. After the first week of Mass at home, we started asking our kids to help prepare the living room to become a sanctuary. The first simple step is putting away their toys. That helps them get involved in preparing for the Holy Spirit to come into our humble abode. It is an excellent teaching opportunity to help them understand the importance of preparing not just the physical space but also the spiritual space for the holiness of the Mass. 

5. Prepare the readings. We download the readings ahead of time onto our tablet. If it’s more comfortable and if you have a printer, have the readings printed on paper. This helps us get into an attentive mindset.

6. Sit, stand, kneel, bow. Normally, our couch is a place for laziness and slouching. It takes extra effort in attention and mindfulness to avoid slouching or putting our feet up. We try to keep our posture similar to how we sit in the church pews. We stand when it’s time to stand, kneel when it’s time to kneel, and bow when it’s time to bow. The same responses, postures, and gestures that we would normally do at Mass in church, we perform in our living room.

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7. Time for review. In this quarantined set-up where there is no need to rush out to be somewhere after Mass, we now have the time and the opportunity to personally teach our kids about the Mass readings. After Mass, we ask them to tell us what they got out of the readings. Catechism classes may have been put on pause, but faith education must continue. And what an opportune blessing it is for both the kids and the parents alike to really grow in faith as a family. 

Faith in Action

Being quarantined presents an opportunity for our family to be more mindful, creative, and intentional with the practice of our faith. With the church doors closed, we open the windows of our homes to welcome God’s blessings because God will continue to knock. This trying period of this pandemic is a defining moment for the Catholic faithful and how we respond can make a big difference. The efforts that we put into transforming our home into a house of worship will send a powerful lesson to our kids

Words can never be enough to convey how much the Sacrament of the Mass means to us and here is one rare opportunity for our children to receive that message firsthand, loud and clear. As a parent, I hope my kids will witness how much we cherish and value our faith and how it gives us strength, deliverance, and joy in times of distress. Such a profound opportunity to hand down our faith!