During these virus days of closed Churches and open pubs (carry out only), the internet has galloped to the rescue of methodical Masses and homey homilies by streaming the Eucharist from local parishes. TV Masses have been around for long time and have a love/hate relationship with the clergy. Then: “How can people even think a Mass on TV approaches the sacramental grace of being present at a Eucharistic celebration?” Now: “Stay home and watch Mass on TV; it’s just like the real thing!” Also these electronic Eucharists are proliferating at the rate rabbits breed.
A parishioner texted last Sunday that they were on their third Mass of the morning; all being streamed on line from nearby parishes. “Father, why don’t you stream your Mass today on the internet so we can see it too?” First, I hate to be in fourth place; second, how many celebrations of the Lord’s Supper are enough for one morning? A potential game show comes to mind; we’ll call it, The Sacramental Showcase Showdown!
Local priests will vie on this must see TV to be the next Fulton J. Sheen, or, dare we dream, the next Robert Barron? Pastors will be judged by the discerning Catholics on line in regard to: fit of vestments, ruthlessly observing the rubrics, pacing of prancing, hairstyle; hygiene, length of homily, the amount of wine consecrated, etc. In the comment sections of Youtube, Facebook et al, couch consecrators will be invited to vote for their favorite celebrant and leave observations.
“It has to be Fr. Pharan Heidt from St. Celsius. He’s a good looking priest and his words were so personal, it was like I was at Church.”
“I really didn’t like any of them. What’s with the purple? Don’t they know it looks bad on screen? Whoever in charge of make up needs to get with it.”
“Fr. Refulgence was the best one on the Showcase! He used the 1962 Napa Chantilly Merlot, right out of the bottle into that gorgeous 24 carat gold chalice with twelve amethysts symbolizing the twelve something or other. Nothing’s too good for the people at St. Mercedes!”
“Fr. Bill’s handmade chasuble consisting of felt ribbons and pictures of starving cats really made an impression on me. His use of matzo crackers and a jug of Mogen David brought the Eucharist home. That beautiful preparation of the gifts procession using nine blighted potatoes and four homeless dogs heightened my social sensibility and edged my soul crystal into brilliance.”
“How could you compare any Mass to Fr. Serious Brunet of St. Demetrius the Demented? His Latin, when it could be heard, was flawless. His gestures, when they could be seen, were precise and crisp. That beautiful St. Philip Neri style fiddleback chasuble with the inlay picture of robbers beating a poor man half to death, no doubt from the Good Samaritan parable, raised my eyes in joy to God. As usual, Father finished the Mass in two and a half rosaries. He has to win the Showcase; it was the only valid Mass.”
As much as we talk about the immutability of God, we sometimes ignore the adaptiveness the Holy Spirit brings to the Church. Through wars, plagues, insurrections, natural disasters, the Church finds a way, with God’s help, to take care of her people. A cursory glance at history exhibits the Church reaching out, caring for and finding ways to minister to all. Always the Church comes out of crisis stronger for serving her Lord Jesus in His people. To be Pro-Life is also to be Pro-Next Life; this is the goal of salvation, whether through the grace of a sacrament participated, or the actual grace of a mind raised to God by watching a live stream.
Fun Kid’s Game: Guess the number of times the priest says, “Jesus” during his homily.