Saturday, March 14, 2020

Top 5 Ways to Sanctify Sunday When Mass is Suspended

As a precursor, please read: Is Mass Attendance Required During Epidemics?

Sunday is the ideal day in which to participate in communal Rosary, Vespers, and Benediction services. Sunday is also the day on which the faithful should be most willing to read Catholic newspapers, books, and magazines. While none of these are required, they are some of the ways we can sanctify Sundays. And to those who are home-bound and unable to attend Mass, some of these activities are all the more important.

1. Pray the Divine Office

If you are like most Catholics, you have little time to pray the Divine Office during the work week.  If this is you, make an effort to pray Lauds, Vespers, and Compline each Sunday as a family.  Pray Lauds before going to Mass.  Pray Vespers before Sunday dinner.  And pray Compline after the Family Rosary in the evening before bed. You can easily pray the Divine Office from home at

The Divine Office is the official prayer of the Church.  Unite your family with the Liturgical Year and pray the Divine Office on Sundays (and other holy days of obligation).

2. Family Rosary

Perhaps no Sunday activity is as cherished as the family Rosary.  As the axiom goes, “The Family that prays together stays together.”  Families have a responsibility – as the domestic Church – to foster a sense of holiness and religion amongst their members. The family Rosary should be a time of regular devotion – at least weekly if daily Rosary as a family is not possible.

For those families who have members that have fallen from the Faith, this is a sure means to help them return to the Church.  Beseech our Lady to send them the graces necessary to save their souls. Invite family members to the Rosary. Indeed, the family that prays together does stay together. And pray for all those affected by the health crisis and for all those who do not have access now to the Sacraments.

3. Teach and Learn the Faith

No other day should be as treasured for the passing on or the learning of the Faith than Sunday.  By the virtue of the Fourth Commandment we are forbidden from performing servile work (i.e. the work typical of a servant) on Sundays.  We are also forbidden from commanding those us under our charge to perform such works. Parents may not force their children to mow the lawn (and they should actually forbid such an activity on Sunday!).  Homeowners may not paint their rooms or work on household labors or even command their contractors or hired help to work on Sunday to accomplish a goal.  Rather, we should ask those under our charge to refrain from all such labors on the Holy Day.
What are we to do with our time besides prayer and charity?  We are to study and transit the Faith.  Studying is a discipline of the mind and all forms of intellectual study whether they be studying the catechism, learning Kepler’s laws of the universe, understanding history, practicing Latin, learning a musical instrument, et cetera are permissible on Sunday.  They are even encouraged.

Visit for a list of dozens of great Catholic books that can be read freely online. And visit for classes you can take that are very affordable.

4. Read the Sunday Propers

And even if we cannot attend the actual Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we can read the prayers of the Mass. For instance, learn more about the manner of hearing Mass while at home.  And during this current crisis, Ancilla Press has put together the current propers in a similar method called the Carthusian Office of the Mass. And many churches are now live streaming the private Masses said by the priest so that the faithful can spiritually benefit from watching along.

And lastly, while it may not fulfill our Sunday obligation, there are various Traditional Masses that are live-streamed which we can access during this time. In this way, we can still spiritually unite ourselves with the Sacrifice of the Mass even when dispensed from the Sunday obligation to attend Holy Mass. And as we watch these, we may make an Act of Spiritual Communion.

5. Works of Mercy

Sunday is a day most appropriate for charity.  Our Lord was accosted by the Pharisees for performing miracles (e.g. works of charity) on the Sabbath.  Nowadays, to those who claim that Sunday is not a day most appropriate for charity, we remind them of the Lord’s words: “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?" (Luke 14:5).  Shall we let those who have fallen in sin or despair remain there without aiding them?

While pandemics or epidemics may make it dangerous to feed the hungry or clothe the naked, we can and should still perform the spiritual works of mercy. Visit a cemetery for instance and pray for the dead. Or at least stay at home and say prayers for the souls in Purgatory. Write cards to those who are sick. Be a good example and defend the Catholic Faith publicly on social media. There are many such ways we can share and defend the Faith even when staying at home.

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