On a recent Sunday, I was able to experience Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Timonium although I was hundreds of miles away in Florida.
My Maryland friends, Debbie and Shawn, who were visiting my beach house, described how dynamic is their Church of the Nativity, with its contemporary format, band music and homilies that effectively and interestingly tie in readings to modern life.
After Debbie described her parish’s live Catholic Mass on the Internet, we decided to watch one of the broadcasts together – with my Dachschund puppy “attending” church with me!
We had just gobbled plates of cheesy scrambled eggs and fresh vegetables and drank vanilla-flavored coffee before sitting at my kitchen counter on yellow barstools to watch Mass. (Wait, can they see us???) I lit a candle for effect as we watched Father Michael White, pastor, speak on “Life With Family: Week 2” within an ongoing series. My takeaway quote was, “No one should underestimate simple kindness or daily thoughtfulness.”
After listening to the fantastic music of Nativity’s band at the front of their newly constructed building, we were able to follow along with the readings and Gospel as words marched across the computer monitor, as they do on a large screen inside the church for those physically present. Debbie and I held hands during the Our Father and hugged during the sign of peace.
The parish even has a mobile app so people “can take Nativity wherever you are,” says its website. “We aim to be a church that people who don’t like church … like! Our strategy is to creatively reach out to disconnected Catholics … with a fresh and relevant presentation of the life-changing message of the Gospel.”
Of course, watching Mass over the Internet is not a substitute for our weekly obligation as Catholics to attend in person. The online Masses which Nativity offers, however, can benefit the sick or homebound — including my 86-year-old wheelchair-confined Italian mother who lives at College Manor Assisted Living in Lutherville. She is a devout Catholic who greatly misses attending church. However, as the College Manor staff streams Nativity’s weekly Mass into the activities room, Mamma Gina faithfully attends. A eucharistic minister from Nativity distributes Communion to the residents. What a win-win situation for them!
After the hour, I felt completely and soulfully satisfied, but there was the obvious missing – the Eucharist – the most vital component of Mass.
As Father White concluded, “The Mass is ended. Go in peace,” I almost expected him to add … “and now go clean up your kitchen. ” (Wait, can he see it?)
Several parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore broadcast their Masses. Click here for more information. Also, for weekly “featured homilies” in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, click here. And to listen to local Catholic podcasts and other programs, click here.