Mass Online, by Randall Smith

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Cardinal O’Malley online

By Randall Smith, The Catholic Thing, April 23, 2020

Randall B. Smith is a tenured Full Professor of Theology. His book Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Guidebook for Beginners is available from Emmaus Press. And his book Aquinas, Bonaventure, and the Scholastic Culture at Paris: Preaching, Prologues, and Biblical Commentary is due out from Cambridge University Press in the fall.

Randall SmithSome people ask me what I think about teaching online.  I ask them how they like watching Mass online.  “Really, that bad?”

It’s not that I don’t admire attempts to do Mass online, nor am I ungrateful for the chance to participate, even if only “virtually.” Still, it is a far cry from actually attending Mass.

Others proclaim they are constantly “yearning” for Mass. The danger for me is that I get spiritually numb.  It’s easy to get busy with work and just skip it without a thought.  There’s something good about having to get up and walk over to the chapel.  You must commit to something, physically.  There’s not the same movement either of the body or the spirit if I just click a link and then sit there and watch Mass, as if I were watching the video of an online lecture.

Perhaps it’s because I hate watching online lectures, even lectures I loved in person, but the prospect of watching an online Mass just doesn’t get my blood pumping.  I’m not always wrapped into a state of ecstatic contemplation at a regular Mass either, but watching Mass online is like listening to someone narrate the events of their vacation trip while they slowly scroll through the pictures on their phone.    ….

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