The Real Thing

My church, like most I imagine during corona-mania, is limited to 10 or fewer people inside at once. Therefore, services are open only to the clergy. To accommodate the laity, starting this morning, the Sunday of the Holy Cross, services are live-streamed.

So there were our two priests, conducting the Divine Liturgy to an empty church, save, of course, for the camera operator.

It was nice. I enjoyed listening to the gospel readings and the homilies and the prayers–there was no choir, so one of the priests acted as the chanter. We could even see the profession of the cross around the church.

But it wasn’t the same. Obviously, one cannot partake of the Holy Communion virtually (telecommunion?). And while a live-streamed service is better than nothing, it can’t replicate the feeling of being there.

It’s a temporary measure that I understand–why take unnecessary risks when we’re trying to halt the spread of this thing? But it shows the limits of technology. God is not limited. He is everywhere. Our tools, however, are not as boundless as Him. All of our gadgets can only provide a reasonable facsimile of the real thing.

Such is the case with all things humans do, if I may get a bit maudlin, especially when we try to reach the divine and ineffable. Even live-streamed concerts don’t have the same energy, can’t replicate the feeling of being there.

Virtual communities are great. They are vital, even. But they are in no way a perfect one-to-one substitute for actual physical proximity with people.

I’m thankful our God-given intellects have allowed humanity to create these tools. I’m thankful for them during our great national quarantine. I just pray things return to normal sooner than later because in short order we’re going to really start feeling the absence of the real thing, whatever the thing in question may be.


Lots of us PulpRev authors contributed to Corona-Chan: Spreading the Love, a FREE anthology of wonder, humor, and excitement now available on Amazon. Help us get to #1!

8 comments

  1. Many of our churches have lovely physical plants and they are great. The church has never needed a building to do its work, though. And our relationship with God is the one thing that need not be disrupted because He is omnipresent.

    We will need our churches more than ever through this, physical services or no.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s true. But I hesitate to discount or downplay the role of church services. We know from how the ancient Israelites worshipped God that He wants a liturgical form of service and communal prayer. And nothing He said later, or that Christ taught, or anything elsewhere in Scripture or Apostolic tradition has changed this. So I think we’ll be fine in the short-term, but it’ll be nice when we can all get back to our physical churches!

      All that said, yes, even during this quarantine, the churches still have a vital role to play. We’ll get though this just fine. Maybe even stronger.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Alexander

      The Orthodox undoubtedly have what Catholics call spiritual communion.

      Unlike you the churches are closed in my province. So I listen to the Mass on youtube from the archdiocese.

      It’s not the same but Catholics are in the Lenten season. So we can offer that suffering to Him

      xavier

      Liked by 1 person

      • Spiritual communion…I’ve never heard the term specifically. We’re supposed to prepare for communion by fasting and prayer, including prayers during the service before receiving, but as far as I know, if you don’t physically partake, it’s not communion.

        Like

      • Alexander

        I understand about what you’really saying about taking Communion.
        However the Japanese Catholics before Perry’s opening or the Christains under commie rule have given us insights about spiritual communion. Remember our Lord is unconstained by physics and can effect miracles and give Communion without bread.

        But I do get your original point.

        xavier

        Liked by 1 person

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