After the crowds were first upset by the government’s actions, the storm over a single church instruction ignited even among the faithful. “Priests should not transmit Holy Masses online,” is a phrase that has upset many. Since the announcement, bishops have begun to receive a number of emails urging them to revoke the instruction. “Don’t take the holy masses from us yet,” was written on Facebook among many who resented the instruction by a lady who, in my opinion, articulated well the feelings of the faithful at the decision of their bishops.
And the bishops changed their minds and supplemented their instructions last night, thus allowing the transmission of the Holy Mass under conditions which stipulate, among other things, that the transmission from churches and public chapels must be direct, that the priest must warn the faithful at the outset. online does not yet mean the full fulfillment of the commandment to celebrate Sunday or holiday worship and that it is not a communion and sacramental communion of the Holy Eucharist. At the end of the month, each priest will be required to submit a report to the bishops on the transfers of Masses, their monitoring and the pastoral benefits of the transfer.
I do not remember such a mass reaction of the faithful to a bishop’s decision, nor the fact that the bishops, under the influence of the faithful and the priests, changed their minds in a single day.
In a way, all this happening impressed me and filled me with hope for the Slovenian Church. People want holy masses!
Holy Masses are important to people, crucial!
In a way, all this happening impressed me and filled me with hope for the Slovenian Church. People want holy masses! They experience them as a key part of their lives, they are important to them, they want to attend them, even if all they have to do is follow the masses online! What a joy this fact should fill us all, and the bishops in particular!
In any case, it is not surprising that for more than half a year, the aspect of the possibility of devaluing the Holy Mass did not seem to anyone to be a sufficient argument for banning transfers or at least numerous warnings from believers about it. However, if this was a problem, we should point it out, as we do now with wearing masks. It is hard to imagine that the bishops only thought of this when they wrote Cardinal Sarah.
Guardians of order
But an important part of the answer to the question “Why?” Is certainly hidden in Cardinal Robert Sarah, to whom Archbishop Zora referred at the press conference when explaining the instructions.
In the letter, Sarah points out that bishops are called to be advocates of the liturgy at this time, and liturgical celebrations should not include “Improvised ritual experiments.” Kot svari Sarah, “Virtual masses” they run the risk of distancing us from “A personal and intimate encounter with the incarnate God”. He emphasizes that this physical contact with the Lord is crucial, indispensable, and irreplaceable. Namely, if a Christian can be without the Christian community, without the day of the Lord, without the house of the Lord, the word, the Eucharist and the sacrifice.
The arguments are strong. But if we follow this logic sincerely, we should fully follow it. And we should probably do more to be able to receive at least communion also those in self-isolation, quarantine, those most vulnerable, lonely, coronavirus…
The bishops did not clearly explain the decision to the faithful, thus making a similar mistake as the state authorities in the face of many poorly explained measures. It is also important that it was a letter that followed the release of measures, the return of the faithful to receive St. communion, not for a letter on the resumption of measures, the closure of churches and the prohibition of holy masses.
Certainly not unimportant is the fact that Sarah, as guardian of church heritage, tradition, and order in the sacraments and liturgy, actually has to speak out if a sacrament or rite seems to be slipping into devaluation. But the fact is that this is the result of completely changed circumstances of life, which in no way correspond to the “normal” life of church communions. And it is this aspect of exceptional circumstances that is crucial here.
Archbishop Zoret’s argument that masses are more widely attended by those who are otherwise extremely rare in the church is very unusual. Why would that be a problem?
What would Jesus do?
By arguing that their behavior devalues the rite of mass, all small children could be expelled from churches over and over again. Not them, but knowing that they are children of God, we raise them in the faith to become living saints and Christians with a strong personal faith.
Archbishop Zoret’s argument that masses are more widely attended by those who are otherwise extremely rare in the church is very unusual. Why would that be a problem? Did Jesus send unbelievers and sinners out of houses as He spoke or broke bread? Ni. He followed them, sought them, gave them “living bread”, healed them, spoke to them on occasions when they did not understand him, tried to encourage them… Surely the pandemic, as a great distress to God, will lead even more unbelievers in a special way. And the door should be wide open for them.
The top of the Slovenian Church gives the impression of bureaucracy
It was really incomprehensible that the controversial broadcasts of priests were through social networks and websites, and not those that were “burned” by the bishops. As if the medium is the guarantor of the sanctity of the Mass and people watch the Mass on television and radio more devoutly, collectedly, attentively, in silence… than the transmission of Masses through websites and social networks?
I have not found a study, survey or any other basis to support this. Last but not least, we were unique in banning the transmission of holy masses over the Internet and social networks. Elsewhere in Europe, as far as I have examined countries, no such measure has been taken. The monopolization of the transmission of the Holy Masses thus seemed completely meaningless and gave the impression of bureaucracy and Pharisaism at the top of the Slovene Church.
But we will definitely get some kind of analysis with the new obligation to monitor all statistics and parameters for monitoring the transmission of Holy Masses. I hope they will leave the counting of likes aside and the analysis would also have some practical benefits. Of course, the good question is what will happen to the data, if they don’t actually tell them how many people really follow the Mass (because the family can only follow one Mass), how old they are, how “close” they are to the Church, then they also went to communion… Or what the bishops are already interested in.
At the Faculty of Theology, someone could have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in this subject, if, of course, it were scientifically useful data. Has anyone noticed that the reports will be broadcast only for the transmission of holy masses, but not for the transmission of prayers, addresses, verbal worship, roles…? I am not in favor of an even more extensive bureaucratic burden on priests, who are already often largely secretaries, but if we are to go…
God is not us and will not leave us
In any case, it is good that priests will now have at least the opportunity to celebrate the sacrifice “at the same table” as much as possible “together” with the believers entrusted to them, who will also invite them to communion. In this way, we will be closer to the ideal of community than before. In fact, it is not necessarily true that communion is always lacking. Families are certainly the “little Church” where God is present. Also the parish communities that co-shape the Holy Mass through Zoom.
At the same time, the simultaneous connection with the local pastor creates a kind of community that remains connected to each other. Probably with a greater sense of security even greater than in the church, where people currently avoid each other as much as possible for fear of infection.
This is currently the only alternative we have. Better us St. The spirit has not (yet) shown. Since most of the country is “red”, it is not difficult to calculate that it will now be barely possible to attend a live mass. However, not everyone who is elderly, sick, self-isolated, quarantined and in risky contacts can attend communion – and there are really many of them at the moment. And we are close to declaring an epidemic. Extremely far from the ideal of the Church, which is always with the people and always with the sacraments.
Perhaps from now on we will become more aware that Holy Mass is a gift, not a right. And that as believers we can also contribute to change in the Church from yesterday to today.
And last but not least: From now on, we may become more aware that Holy Mass is a gift, not a right. And that as believers we can also contribute to change in the Church from yesterday to today. But there is certainly some truth in the fact that online masses are equated by a part of the population with live masses and the reception of the living God – the bishops have now clearly warned us of this temptation.
I want you to feel the nearness of God especially with the new, much more severe wave of coronavirus. We are still in the month of the rosary and each of us can organize prayers online, for the end of the pandemic, for the Rajnas, for our loved ones, for families, for all the sick…, we can read the Bible, do good, fast, call our fellow citizens and priests, and we stand shoulder to shoulder – even over the phone, online and on social media.
Whether we or our bishops still want it, we cannot be a living communion at the moment. But God is not with us and will not leave us, no matter what happens.