As people are asked urgently by civic authorities to stay at home in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Catholics in the Philadelphia Archdiocese or anywhere can start their day with prayer together without venturing into a church.

A daily morning prayer liturgy is being led online by Father Matthew Guckin, parochial administrator of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Philadelphia.


Part of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official daily prayer of the church, morning prayer is livestreamed through the parish’s Facebook page at every Monday through Friday at 7 a.m. and every Saturday at 9 a.m.

Although excessive time using social media can increase anxiety, using digital communications for set prayer times can reduce stress by keeping participants on a schedule. Without such structure, “we can go haywire,” said Father Guckin.

(See the other ways Catholics in the archdiocese are drawing near to Christ through Masses and rosary devotions.)

Devotion via digital tools can foster real human connections when people remain focused on the eternal realities the technology serves to transmit, said Oblate Father Thomas Dailey, a communications professor at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Even those who find themselves on the other side of the “digital divide” – those without internet access or devices – need not feel excluded from their faith while public liturgies cease due to the coronavirus.

“Whether you have access to a Mass online or not, in the celebration of the Mass, everyone is included,” Father Dailey said. “The suspension of the public celebration of the Mass is not the end of the Mass. As the Mystical Body of Christ, we are incorporated in any Mass celebrated anywhere in the world.”

During a recent online morning prayer, Father Guckin advised participants that “even though we’re called to be socially distant, let’s never be spiritually distant.”

Above all, “there’s no need to despair,” said Father Dailey.

“As difficult and as trying as this may be, God remains with us, eternally and always as he promised,” he said. “And I think that’s our best hope.”