Cardinal Collins celebrates Mass for Daily TV Mass at the Loretto Abbey chapel in Toronto. Mickey Conlon

Mass continues online and on TV

By 
  • March 19, 2020

Church doors may be closed and the opportunity for a communal celebration of the Eucharist have ceased for the time being, but the Mass will go on, said Cardinal Thomas Collins.

Health restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have forced the cancellation of Sunday and daily Mass celebrations, but the cardinal is continuing to say Mass each morning from St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica and as of March 17 livestreaming it on the Archdiocese of Toronto website (archtoronto.org). He is encouraging Catholics to join him in the celebration.

If Catholics can’t join him there, Collins also encourages the faithful to watch the Daily TV Mass on various television networks (Salt + Light, Joytv, Vision TV, Yes TV and FaithTV) or on one of its online portals (see dailytvmass.com).

For his Mass on March 18, the cardinal offered the Mass to all those affected by this latest crisis, the sick and isolated, “but also in a very special way for health care workers” to support them and give them strength and courage to perform their duties in trying times.

In another example of keeping the Mass experience alive during this crisis, Novalis is offering free downloads of the Living with Christ daily Mass texts and prayers at livingwithchrist.ca. There are also free downloads of its French counterpart, Prions en Eglise.

“We decided that since many people would not be able to attend Mass at all for next few weeks, we would offer them some way of creating a prayerful experience reflecting the liturgy in their own homes,” said Novalis publisher Joseph Sinasac. “It is especially important at this time that Catholics are connected in a tangible way with the Eucharist. It is, after all, the source and summit of Catholic life.

“So, with the permission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic bishops, we are posting on our web site (www.livingwithchrist.ca) the daily texts of the Mass, which comprise the Scripture readings and prayer responses. This is by no means a substitute for direct participation in the Mass, but we hope it will give people comfort and help them to find moments of peace, away from all the anxiety surrounding the pandemic.”

The free downloads are available until March 29 and then will be re-assessed.

It’s a strange circumstance that the Mass has been shut down, but not one without precedence in Canada and the western world. A century ago it was the Spanish flu that saw churches restricted from opening as a measure to stem the spread of the deadly pandemic. Even today, there are parts of the world where persecution against Christians is keeping people from celebrating the Mass. Yet the Mass survives and thrives, said Collins.

“As the early Christians said when the persecution cut the Mass off, without the Sunday Mass we can’t continue,” said Collins in an interview with The Catholic Register after the taping of a Daily TV Mass at the Loretto Abbey chapel in Toronto. “But Christians have always continued.”

The current situation is an opportunity for prayer, something that doesn’t need to be done in a community. Collins said after each Mass he is praying the Prayer to St. Michael and the rosary before the tabernacle at the cathedral, and urges Catholics to up their prayer life at this time.

He also notes that priests of the archdiocese are offering daily Mass themselves privately.

It’s not an ideal situation taking instruction from government authorities who are trying to limit the social interaction that allows the deadly COVID-19 to spread. But it’s an understandable circumstance and not one the cardinal will fight authorities on.

“When the government or the health authorities are guarding the common good, they have every right. This is a totally legitimate requirement of the government, absolutely legitimate,” he said. “This is absolutely sensible. As I often say, God put our heads in so prominent a place in our bodies that He wants us to use them.”

Neither is it ideal to not celebrate the Mass communally, but it is what circumstance dictates. But having a televised Mass or one available online is a blessing, said Collins.

“All of us in abnormal times are very grateful for the Daily TV Mass,” he said.

With hard times though comes opportunity. The Mass has always been there for Catholics, and maybe that hasn’t always been appreciated.

“I think we Catholics have taken the Mass for granted and now it’s a wake up call to cherish it,” said the cardinal.

And it’s not just the Mass we’ve taken for granted, he said, but our lives overall. The fear evident on the streets (witness people emptying store shelves in a panic) shows people have a fear of death — understandably so.

“It’s a sign, all our anxiety at this time, is a sign that people recognize life is not to be taken for granted,” said Collins. 

“We have not realized that we don’t just sail along. Nobody is promised tomorrow…. Maybe it’s time for us to wake up as people do in times of crisis.”

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