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How to celebrate a Liturgy of the Word at home

Freedom Studio | Shutterstock

Without access to the Eucharist, families can honor the Sabbath by reciting the readings normally scheduled for Mass.

When the lay faithful are not able to attend Mass on Sunday (such as during the coronavirus quarantine), there are many different options on how to honor the Sabbath.

One of those ways is by celebrating a Liturgy of the Word. This the name for the first half of the Mass, primarily composed of reading short selections from the Bible.

The USCCB explains the spiritual benefits of this part of the Mass.

In the Liturgy of the Word, the Church feeds the people of God from the table of his Word. The Scriptures are the word of God, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In the Scriptures, God speaks to us, leading us along the path to salvation.

Celebrating a Liturgy of the Word is reserved for times when the parish is without a priest and normally led by an official “leader of prayer.” However, when that is not even possible, a member of the family can step in for a condensed version inside the home.

The primary part of this celebration will consist of reading out loud the selected readings for Mass. Those readings can be found on the USCCB’s website.

It is possible to extend this celebration with additional prayers, such as those said in the Ritual for Laypersons. At the same time, it should be noted that various prayers and gestures reserved to the priest should be omitted, as explained by the Diocese of Boise.

There should be no confusion among the faithful between this celebration and a Eucharistic celebration (Mass). To that end, nothing that is proper to the Mass, particularly the presentation of the gifts and the Eucharistic Prayer, should be inserted into this celebration. Further, lay leaders are to omit the words, gestures, vestures, rites, etc., which are proper to an ordained minister.

Alternatively, a common celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours can be a way to honor Sunday in a more liturgical manner.

Above all, keep in mind that God asks us all to “Keep holy the Sabbath,” and when access to Mass is impossible, the lay faithful should find ways best for their situations.

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