While public Masses and other liturgical gatherings have been temporarily halted in the Archdiocese of Washington in an effort to contain the spread of  the coronavirus, the faithful can continue to “attend” Mass thanks to the numerous parishes that are live streaming their Masses or posting videos on their Facebook page and websites.

The faithful can visit https://adw.org/live-streamed-masses-and-prayers/ to find a listing compiled by the Archdiocese of Washington of more than three dozen parishes and others offering online Masses and other prayers.

In addition to the onlines Masses, a Mass airs every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on WDCW-50 and through free online streaming at adw.org/tvmass.

Speaking in a video message March 19, Archbishop Wilton Gregory reminded that faithful that “We are still united in Christ even though we are not able to be together for Eucharist.” 

Father Lawrence Swink, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in La Plata, Maryland, noted, “We have been averaging 300 views a day for our daily Mass, and we had 700 views for our Sunday Mass.”

He said his parish chose to record Mass each morning at 8 a.m. and then post them online later in the day.

“While we have the technology to do so, live streaming to YouTube or Facebook greatly limits the clarity of the video and opens up the door to so many technical difficulties such as choppy video, delays, and poor clarity,” Father Swink explained.

Father Swink added that in addition to offering his parishioners the opportunity for Mass online, his parish is also “recording short videos giving our parishioners daily updates, and we are currently filming a series of meditations on the Stations of the Cross that will air during the 14 days leading up to Good Friday.”

During the coronavirus shutdown of public Masses, Father Keith Woods, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Waldorf, is celebrating daily and Sunday Masses that parishioners can view online. (Screen capture/CS photo by Andrew Biraj)

At St. Peter Parish in Waldorf, Father Keith Woods, the pastor, said he had always been reluctant to having his Masses filmed, but “when it was clear people couldn't get to Mass, I decided I needed to learn how to video my own Mass and get it out to the parishioners.”

“The technical part wasn't hard and the actual celebration of Mass in front of a camera was more natural than I expected.,” he said.

Both priests said that it has been rewarding to offer the Mass for their parishioners who are sequestered in their homes.

“There is a real feeling of connectedness; that the people are listening and praying with you,” Father Woods said. “The reactions have been great: phone messages of appreciation, some email.”

“It feels empty to not have your parishioners with you, but it comforting to know that many are watching the daily Masses and Sunday Masses and that they long to be at Mass,” Father Swink said.

Both priests also offered words of encouragement to their “socially distancing” parishioners.

Father Woods suggested that the faithful think of those Catholics who regularly are denied the opportunity to attend Mass. “We have our pick of parishes and Mass times normally. Now we share the experience of many Catholics around the world who don't have those choices, for a host of reasons,” he said. “Maybe for this time it's good that we experience what they experience and learn to be grateful for those things we usually take for granted.”

He added that there is also “a huge Lenten lessen” to be learned during this time.

“We submit our wishes and wills to that of another - government and health officials - just as Christ submitted Himself. That's a huge Lenten lesson. We should imitate His acceptance of our situation,” Father Woods said.

“My continuous message to my parishioners is to have a supernatural outlook, stay positive, and keep praying,” Father Swink said. “This time of trial will make us more in love with Jesus if we keep our focus on Him. Pray the rosary daily and make at least one spiritual communion a day.”

Since the faithful can view Mass online, but not receive Holy Communion, Father Swink thinks this time of social distancing is a time to be “purified and to make reparation for all the times we have neglected to treat our Blessed Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament … with the love and reverence He deserves. This time is a time for all of us Catholics to make good, true Confessions - if they can sacramentally - so as to receive the Lord with a pure heart the next time we can receive Him."