Liturgy Matters: Are you still Facetiming God on Sundays?
By Michael McKenna, Archdiocesan Master of Ceremonies
For some months now parish councils around the world have been racking their minds on how to encourage parishioners back to Mass and the sacraments post the pandemic.
While there likely will not be a “post COVID”, we cannot allow ourselves to become so paralysed by fear that we stop living. Indeed, to be cut off from the Mass, the sacraments and our parish communities is to stop living.
So what does living with COVID mean? Well, some vaccinate, and some don’t. Some will mask up and some will not. And some cautiously leave the house to go about their daily lives and some don’t or indeed cannot.
And while there are a growing number who seem more convinced of a post Christian reality than a COVID one, some will still go to Mass on Sunday while others will stick with the new virtual Divine Facetime.
During the peak of the pandemic bishops around the world simply suspended the obligation to go to Mass as permitted in canon law.
The faithful were encouraged – though not obliged mind – to keep Sunday as a day of special prayer.
To that end, through the marvels of technology, the Church adapted almost uncharacteristically fast to livestream Masses – the recordings of which allow you to enjoy your favourite homily over and over again… or not.
Pope Francis reflected that the forced isolation devised to stop the pandemic presented the danger of people living the faith only for themselves — detached from the sacraments, the Church and the people of God. The Holy Father observed that online Masses and spiritual communion, though a well-meaning pastoral response, do not represent the Church.
“This is not the Church,” Francis said. “The ideal of the Church is always with the people and with the sacraments — always.”
So with the obligation since restored, Catholics are once again obliged to attend Mass each Sunday, if you can reasonably do so.
Obviously, there are exceptions for the poor of health or the care of the sick for whom the livestream Mass must seem like a God send.
But our God isn’t virtual. He showed up in the person of Jesus Christ to account for our sins, in the flesh, to sweat and bleed and weep alongside us and show us the way to the Father.
And if you are able, and this isn’t enough to get you to Mass on Sunday, then nothing is!