Pamela and her husband with two of their children at their parish of the Church of Saint Francis Xavier.
Photo: Pamela Loo
Keeping Our Faith Alive
Pamela Loo shares how the digitisation of the Church, such as the online broadcast of the Mass, helped to sustain her family’s faith and their experience of returning to physical Mass.
When Covid-19 hit Singapore and churches were closed, my family was in limbo. We lost what we had taken for granted, such as Bible sharing and retreats. My husband and I became very aware of what our own kids were missing out because they were isolated from the larger communion of faith.
Not knowing how long restrictions would last, we hosted hybrid prayer and fellowship sessions with our parish young adult community. Still, the most sustainable way was by faithfully attending online Mass.
A faith engaged is a faith alive
The availability of online Mass allowed our kids to participate in the most important part of our faith, albeit in a different way. They could not go to school, much less go out to play. Yet, within the confines of our home, they could now clearly see what was happening on the altar. In fact, when they started taking out their masak-masak (cooking toys) to imitate what they saw, we decided to buy them a Mass kit to sustain their interest.
They enjoyed the children’s pre- Mass segment so much that they would sing the songs long after it was over. Every Sunday, they ask for the activity sheet for that week. Being kids, though their attention is usually lost by the time the homily begins, it amazes me to see them fully engaged for the first half hour or so. They are able to pick up the weekly themes and would suddenly bring it up later in the day.
My husband and I would engage the kids throughout the children’s Mass, leaving us distracted and unable to participate fully in it ourselves. So on Sunday evenings, he and I would watch the online Mass celebrated by our Archbishop, uninterrupted.
Online – effective but temporary
Online Mass established a new yet familiar Sunday church routine. Most importantly, it kept the Mass alive and real for our family.
When churches started re-opening, one of my daughters asked, “Going to church? Why are we not watching Mass online?” I then realised that in the long term, we should revert to the physical Mass. Online Mass was the best replacement during church closure, but I needed to start bringing them back to fully experience the richness of our faith.
Throughout the alternating easing and re-tightening of restrictions, we would try to transit back to physical Mass whenever possible. I do the bookings on the Mass Attendance Registration System (MARS) for the family, so it can get quite challenging to quickly log in and out multiple times for all six of us! Thankfully, MARS is very easy to use, even for my parents who are not IT savvy.
A tangible and visible faith
Now that churches’ capacities have increased, we go to church almost every week and hardly watch the online Mass anymore. We still play the pre-Mass segment for the kids, then go to church for prayer and fellowship with our community of young adults and their families before attending the 1pm Mass. It is also an opportunity for our kids to see other Catholic children in a church setting – perhaps they will later become companions in faith.
Some people think that my husband and I take risks in bringing our kids to church as they are still too young to be vaccinated, but we believe that spiritual and social health are important too. Our children have lost so much in the last two years, masked up and isolated at home. They need a physical community where they feel welcomed and loved.
When we returned to physical Mass after such a long time, all of us were very excited. Even though we pray at our family altar at home, coming before the tabernacle is completely different. Our family will make it a point to kneel down in front of the tabernacle after Mass and say a prayer together, whether it is to give thanks or to pray for someone.
There are so many tangible and visible signs that we can witness and partake in only when we are in church. For example, our kids are very intrigued when we receive Holy Communion and look forward to receiving Jesus too.
Recently, my husband and I went for our own individual retreats to reconnect with Him. Now, we are more resolved to guide our family in faith, into the post-Covid-19 future.
“How can I repay the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” (Psalm 116:12)
God loves us completely and unconditionally, before we even loved Him. As His faithful stewards, we have a duty to nurture our faith and the faith of others, regardless of our circumstances.
Let us respond to His love and “return to our churches to celebrate the Eucharist with Him. … This is the best gift we can give to God who has given us the gift of His Son on the Cross for our salvation” (Archbishop William Goh’s pastoral letter, Mar 23, 2022).
Be a steward of your faith.