During these unprecedented times, quite painfully, many Catholics will be unable to attend Mass. No doubt, this will only increase our hunger for Christ. We encourage you to continue your life of prayer and participation in the life of the Church despite this heavy cross. This page seeks to provide guidance to Catholics in the Archdiocese of Melbourne regarding their participation in Mass during the Coronavirus pandemic.
What is a Dispensation from Mass?
A dispensation from a diocesan bishop releases Catholics from fulfilling their Sunday obligation of attending Mass. In their letter dated 13 March 2020, the Bishops of Victoria dispensed the following groups from their Sunday obligation: those who feel vulnerable to COVID-19; those who are generally unwell; those are caring for those who are unwell; and those who think they might be at risk. On 18 March 2020, after prayerful consideration and reflection, the Bishops of Victoria announced
the suspension of public liturgies and celebrations of Mass, until further notice for the health and safety of the community. In light of this, all Catholics in Victoria are dispensed from their Sunday obligation until further notice (canon 1248).
What should I do if I can’t go to Mass?
If you are unable to be present at a celebration of the Eucharist, we encourage you to participate in other ways such as spending time in personal and family prayer, reflecting on and praying with the Scriptures (particularly the Mass readings
), praying a Liturgy of the Word
with the Sunday readings, making a Stations of the Cross, praying the Rosary
, making an Act of Spiritual Communion (see below) and participating in Mass online (see more below). Further information about opportunities for Sacrament of Reconciliation, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and times of private prayer in parishes will follow, however, churches will remain open. Please check with your local parish in the coming days for more information.
What is an Act of Spiritual Communion and how do I make one?
Catholics have long been encouraged to partake in the practice of “spiritual communion” if they are unable to receive the Eucharist for a particular reason (for instance – being homebound). Simply put, it is coming before the Lord in prayer – expressing our deep desire to be united to Him despite the fact that we are unable to be united to Him in receiving the Eucharist. In making an Act of Spiritual Communion we ask the Lord to give us the graces that would come to us if we were able to receive Him sacramentally (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity). Reciting the prayer written by St. Alphonsus Liguori below is simple and common way of making an Act of Spiritual Communion.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
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.
How can I participate in Mass online?
Despite our current limitations, we can still participate in the celebration of Mass online thanks to modern technology. Many dioceses around the world provide online streaming of Masses, including our own Archdiocese of Melbourne. Below are some links to online Masses. We also encourage you to think about how you might help those homebound and less tech-savvy to be able to access Mass online during this time.
1. St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne
Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne is available daily. The 1pm Mass is streamed live daily (Mon-Fri) and is then available as a recording on-demand until one hour prior to the next Mass. Sunday Mass is available, with the 11am Mass live streamed and it is also available as a recording on-demand.
Watch here: https://melbournecatholic.org.au/Mass
2. Pope Francis’ daily Mass
This program has been allowing the faithful – particularly those with mobility problems – to participate in Mass from their homes for many years. Mass for You at Home is broadcast on Eleven and Network Ten on Sundays and Aurora Channel on Foxtel every day. It is also the fourth-longest running television show in Australia.
Watch here: http://www.mfyah.com/video.html
4. Mass on Demand
Hosted through the CathNews YouTube platform, this is the first Mass of the Day at St Mary’s Church in North Sydney. It is uploaded each day, is available for 24 hours until it is replaced with the new Mass of the day.