We blinked, and the world changed. It was once only oppressive regimes that canceled Catholic Masses, but the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is triggering their suspension around the world. The list of cancellations and obligations lifted as of this writing encompasses most of the dioceses in the U.S.

Regardless of whether we think Masses should get canceled, they are. What we may not have considered, however, is the threat of spiritual drift in the laity from suspending Masses. The time reserved for Mass infuses our souls with sacramental grace from the Eucharist during community worship of Our Lord, who died so that we can have life eternal. The Church describes the Holy Mass as “the source and summit of the Christian life.” It is during the liturgy that the priest consecrates the bread and wine so that it becomes the sacrificial Body, Blood, soul and divinity of Christ as the sacrifice on Calvary, made truly present once again on the altar and for us to receive.

The Mass is irreplaceable. Certainly many people feel a deep loss over missing it, yet, how many will give equal time to other holy activities in its place? Removing the Sunday obligation of Mass does not remove the obligation to keep holy the Sabbath.

Jesus freely suffered and died for us so that we might have life eternal. Any time spent with him is time spent receiving, although sometimes we feel that gift while other times, we must be satisfied with just knowing it. Regardless, we need that time with Jesus.

Not attending Mass presents the danger of slipping away spiritually. For people already not fully engaged, missing/but-not-missing Mass will make it easier down the road to omit it from their Sunday to-do list. Even devout Catholics are at risk of losing spiritual ground. Consider how interruptions in our routine such as a vacation or having company over so easily crowds God out.

The pull of the world is louder and stronger outside of church than inside, so we need to be intentional, lest we allow canceled Masses to drown out that still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13). Here are some ways to be intentional. Consider not only giving God equal time for Mass, but going beyond the usual one hour, knowing he cannot be outdone in generosity.

1. Watch or listen to the Mass. EWTN broadcasts it daily, live at 8 a.m. Eastern. You can watch on TV or online. You can also listen to the Mass on the radio, SIRIUS/XM, or listen online. (More information on finding EWTN on TV or via radio is available on Page 2.) Click here to find EWTN on your local cable/satellite provider or click here to find their radio schedule.

2. Read the Mass readings daily. They can be found here.

3. Read Magnificat. Temporarily, online versions are available for free as a service to the Church (https://us.magnificat.net/free). This resource offers spiritual inspiration and the Mass readings and is also available in Spanish (https://latina.magnificat.net/gratis).

4. Pray the Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy, two of our most powerful prayers after the Mass.

5. Make a Spiritual communion in your own words, or use this prayer written by St. Alphonsus de Liguori:

My Jesus, 
I believe that you
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. 
I love you above all things, 
and I desire to receive you into my soul. 
Since I cannot at this moment
receive you sacramentally, 
come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you.

Never permit me to be separated from you.

Amen.

6. Go to adoration and make a Holy Hour if your church is still open. If not, go to Online Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration for a listing of 13 chapels that broadcast adoration 24/7: https://virtualadoration.home.blog/.

7. Pray to Our Lady Help of the Sick for all those who have contracted the coronavirus and those who will in the future and a novena to Our Lady of Monte Berico, for protection against it.

8. Develop a devotion to the dying to help escort them safely into the arms of Jesus. The whole reason Masses are getting suspended is due to the risk of death. Venerable Sister Mary Potter (1847-1913) promoted devotion to the dying in her book Devotion to the Dying: Mary’s Call to Her Loving Children. She wrote that we must pray for the salvation of dying sinners and that those graces will return to our own loved ones when they are dying: “How pleasing this devotion is to Our Lord, who is Love Incarnate, and to Our Lady, who is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit! The saints tell us that we can do nothing more charitable than pray and offer sacrifices for the dying. They are on the threshold of eternity; the state in which they die will determine their eternity; for ‘in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be’ (Ecclesiastes 11:3).”

9. Watch “The Veil Removed” to deepen your appreciation of the Mass. This five-minute video removes the veil of this world to reveal the supernatural celebration of the Eucharist depicted in Revelation and given to us by Jesus at the Last Supper.

10. Open your Bible and read it.

We are living in a time that most of us probably never imagined could really happen — not just the pandemic, but Masses shutting down around the world. Yet God can use all things for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28). Let us use this as a time to grow closer to him and to bear fruit through increasing our prayers and sacrifices for our own good and the good of the world.