The world that has been experiencing various pandemics and plagues over the years was prone to undergo a miserable outbreak of a deadly virus. Ever since its inception nothing has not been normal anymore. The priorities of people have changed towards taking one day of breath at a time from gathering riches of the world, as for now most of the people long for life giving breath. Our lifestyles have tremendously changed, we have stopped our trips, pilgrimages and not so important travel and even if we step out our houses it is a war between life and death. The mask and a sanitizer bottle has become a definite must-have in our pockets beyond the Rosary we carry. Hence, now the entire world live in accordance to new normal guidelines, cautious and vigilant over the unseen virus.
It has been more than a year and a half since the Catholics could not remove the mask and participate in a holy mass ceremony at a church. The Holy Catholic Church adjusted its proceedings suitable for the safety of the devotees. Similarly, the weekly Sunday masses are now live streamed through television, Facebook or YouTube. This alteration suits only a set of confined group of devotees, as some of the faithful layman consider the physical participation for a Holy Mass as the most effective in grounding faith. Initially, the author itself did not find online masses to be very effective for Catholics. However, it struck the author that faith is highly subjective and is a journey that we carry in our hearts. Hence, for a journey that is deep in our hearts what requires is the feeling, thoughtfulness and listening ability. The Holy Catholic Church is established on the robust grounds of deep rooted faith supported by the traditions, ceremonies, artefacts and practices. One thing the author profoundly believes is that praying in an environment full of faith proliferating resemblances, it genuinely support a layman to enhance in their personal faith, because unless you have train your mind, body and soul to be in synchronity to pray at any given environment, bringing these elements in focus for a prayer is a challenge. However, if you are in a church environment, participating to a Holy Mass with melodious harmonies being sung by a group of talented choristers, sermons that are soul and mind awakening being presented by the priest, community prayers and chants recited with loud voices, focusing our gaze and attention on the Eucharist and statues of Saints, Christ and the Blessed Cross. The room for distraction at a church is minimal unless human beings create such distractions themselves. But the same faithful you, placed in your house seated, watching the Holy Mass through a television or a smartphone, the experience and the feel is different. You could attentively participate in the liturgy of the word but tuning ourselves in the Eucharistic celebration part of the mass is testing, because at Church we use our senses to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in complete faith and join in that faithful experience. However, through online masses it requires considerable degree of spiritual awakening to participate in the sharing of Body and Blood. The most significant barricade for Catholics in online masses is the Eucharistic celebration. However as we train our minds and feed our souls with Word of God, the spiritual participation in online masses is promising.
Nowadays most of us are disappointed, devastated and emotionally exhausted with all the things happening around us. It is too much for us to accept and admit, our lives are on a roller coaster ride pressured from health and economic instability. In such dire circumstances when the devotees are deprived of a manner to get attuned to God, conducting masses online is a beautiful movement to be appreciated, praised and supported. Especially for devotees that encounter struggles to pray effortlessly without the support of community prayers and practice, online mass is similar to a ray of hope. Our ears long to listen to more of motivational and spiritual enhancing hymns and chants to grow in faith and strength. And our eyes want to fix our gaze on the life giving Body and Blood of Christ. Hence, for Catholics, that search for Word of God and spiritual tranquility will find it even in online masses as the complete attention is provided. As we refrain from using our smart devices at church, may be if we could disconnect ourselves from other conversations that cause distractions during the online mass, we begin to feel our soul was nurtured and well-fed with the Word of God spent listening and watching the online mass. It is about the fulfillment we receive at the end of the mass that provide happiness to our lives. The effectiveness of online mass depends on realizing and reaching that fulfillment irrespective of the environment or mode. Mindfulness is the pre-requisite for anything to be successful in life. If our participation for such online masses lacks mindfulness the complete experience is not enjoyed. We cannot wait till the virus exit this world for us to get back to church and physically participate in Holy Mass though that is one of the earnest desires we as Catholics have been longing since the outbreak of the pandemic. If the rest of the world could adjust accordingly unto new normal, so does our spiritual life should be. This is the instance where we find advanced technologies are beneficial and could be put to advantageous use. Book of Mathew, chapter 7 versus 7-8 speaks to us how God will reward for those who search for him. If the desire and will is not ours, forever online masses will not be effective. But the moment we seek for the spiritual nourishment, God will provide it even through an online mass amidst a pandemic.
My dear friends, do not let this pandemic stop you or your faithful journey with God. In fact, this is the times we must cling on to God the most, because our lives are dependent on His blessings as it has always been. No matter what is said above, if still online masses are not your thing, remember that mass is not the only way to get connected with God, because God loves the prayers we articulate from our own words, thoughts and expressions. Find the method that is more comfortable for to talk to Him and He will listen.