Live-Streamed Mass: A Personal Reflection
When I “watched”my first live-streamed Mass, it left me feeling flat. Everything seemed lopsided, or rather one-sided, with the presider, reader and cantor on one side and no one on the other. While it really was a Mass, it struck me how integral the people – the worshiping community – are, to complete the liturgy, to complete the circle.
But even more disturbing was the sight of the empty pews, while all the actions, words and singing during the Mass were the same as if the pews were full. It added a distinct sense of being unreal.
I have been giving this experience a lot of thought, or rather my thoughts going around in circles, until today’s edition of Companions 80 arrived. One of the featured articles was “ How can one better participate in masses from our own home?”, written by Colleen Dulle, of America Magazine.
Recounting her own experience of watching a Mass on TV, she discovered “ a vast gulf . …. between going to Mass and simply watching Mass the way one watches Netflix.” I quickly realized that she had named my experience, that I had “watched” Mass, not actively “participated” in it.
The writer goes on to mention Sister Bernadette Reiss, F.S. P., translator of the Pope’s Masses into English. Sister recommends creating a church-like atmosphere in your home -lighting a candle, placing a Bible, a crucifix, or an icon near your TV or computer. (Personally, it never occurred to me to go to my prayer space).
She also recommends using the same gestures of the Mass – sitting, standing or kneeling, and making a Spiritual Communion. Just as Jesus used his body in the Incarnation, just as we use our bodies at Mass in church, we can also use our bodies to participate in Mass at home.
Colleen Dulle then goes on to quote Catherine Addington, a young Catholic in her twenties, who regularly watches Pope Francis’ daily Masses on Youtube. She initially had the same reaction to watching Mass on TV, but then observed, “ I think it does have something to do with the fact that we don’t know how to watch anything in a holy way.”
She now “watches” Mass differently than watching Netflix. Instead of stretching out on the sofa, she now sits up, mutes her cell phone and makes the same gestures as other Catholics around the world. This gives her a sense of unity.
The faithful would make a Spiritual Communion when the consecrated host was elevated. She says that the next time she followed these practices at a live-streamed Mass and she actually voiced the words of the Mass, she felt “ a union of word, gesture, prayer and time.”
Since both of these women included an Act of Spiritual Communion in their participation, I offer the following as a possibility for you. My Jesus, I believe that you are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you. Never permit me to be separated from you.
thank the writer of this article, Colleen Dulle, and the women she consulted . I look forward to following their recommendations, so that I can be an active participant in the next live-streamed Mass on my computer. DEO GRATIAS !!!