Streaming Masses Should Continue...When Things Return to Normal
If you are like me, you have been longing for a return to normalcy, first and foremost, so I can receive the Holy Eucharist. It is truly extraordinary how long the Stay at Home Order is dragging on. The length of time it has been for so many of us to be without the Eucharist and the other sacraments is inconceivable.
But now many of us know what it feels like to be homebound.
There are many people in all of our churches who are shut-ins. They used to go to Mass regularly at our churches and now cannot because of illness or other reasons.
As a forced shut-in, how comforting is it for you not only to see your priests offering Mass daily or weekly and to be able to view it, even though it is not ideal?
How awesome is it to see the hundred plus families watching along with you as you do your best to worship God under the circumstances?
But what about those who will remain shut-in when this virus has taken its course? Imagine that you have been going to Mass and volunteering at your parish for your entire life. Your family grew up there, so there are endless memories of the joy shared among friends as you and your family grew and celebrated the sacraments. Your faith life has always been important so you try and live out your faith more fully by devoting your life to serve and help evangelize the community by a life of service in ministry at your church.
But then one day you get struck with an illness that makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for you to get to Mass and the church. The longer you are away, the harder it is for you to remain in touch with the people you knew. Also, several of your older friends have moved away and your children have as well. Additionally, the pastor you knew so well has been transferred and the new pastor has no idea who you are and that you helped build the church. The community you once had has slowly disappeared.
There are so many people who feel like they do not matter anymore or their community has forgotten them, and because they are homebound, they have no way to feel connected to their church and their community.
In no way do I think that streaming Mass is a good option to showing up to the church, and it is very concerning to think about the spiritual repercussions of what is happening to us as we undergo this prolonged period of not being able to receive our Lord. But if you cannot physically come to church and be with your Catholic community, as has happened now for everyone, is it not ideal to have some way to feel like you are part of the church?
This might be the way to reach out to the lonely and sick in a way that we have never considered. While watching Mass on EWTN is wonderful and a definite option for a shut-in, there is something deeply significant about being able to stream the Mass from my parish where I can see my beloved statues, stained-glass window, bell tower, portraits, high altar, and Eucharist in the place that is familiar to me.
I strongly encourage all priests to continue to offer the Mass by streaming it as a way to reach out to the homebound. Locate your flock who is sick and stuck at home and send someone to their house so they can learn how to stream the Mass from your Church. This would be an incredible service to the forgotten souls who often can feel as though they do not matter. Many times, unless they call the parish themselves and ask for Communion to be brought to them at their residence, homebound parishioners may never receive again, and we don’t even know who they are. We, at the parish, can and should do more to find them and help them feel like they are still a part of the community. Imagine the spiritual strength it could give the homebound parishioners to witness the consecration of the Eucharist online only to receive the same Eucharist when the Extraordinary Minister visits them at their home to give them the Holy Sacrament.
Do not worry that non-homebound people will opt to watch the Mass streamed instead of physically coming to Mass. Any Catholic who would justify doing this, probably doesn’t come to Mass very often anyway. Furthermore, it may actually help with evangelization. Perhaps it will reach someone who has been away from the Church for a long time and is afraid to come back to Mass. Maybe the person has misconceptions about the Church because it has been so long. One day he/she may decide that instead of going to Mass at the church, he/she will just stream the Mass at the church down the street to check it out.
What if the person sees a reverent and solemn Mass, dedicated to the glorification of Christ? The person does this a few times and then decides to finally come to church in person. I think this is very plausible. I think it could lead many to repentance and conversion.
I repeat PLEASE DO NOT STOP STREAMING THE MASS when the corona virus scare is over. There are only benefits to continue streaming the Mass. Please find these homebound souls and bring Christ to them using this medium and in the Holy Eucharist.