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Answering a Comment About Real Presence Through the Internet

I am writing this blog to provide an extended answer to a question asked in a comment under my most recent blog article, “Whom Are You Looking For?”

In case you haven’t seen the question, I include it here:


My question is are we experiencing the Real Presence when viewing Mass or Adoration online. I had always felt and think I was told that online/tv was at best second class worship. I understand things are different now but the distance issue also creates a unique feeling.

I want to believe we are sharing and experiencing the Real Presence. Why else would our priest and so many other priests be working so hard to share the Eucharist with us?

Change and past thought/teachings are often hard to expel. In addition perpetual adoration online does not have the added beauty of the church and the calm and quiet feeling.

Linda asks a very good question. It manifests her true desire to receive the Eucharist. It is both an easy and a difficult question to answer. Actual physical presence of the person in the church and physically receiving the Eucharist is always what we desire. When one has a choice between coming to church to experience the fullness of the Real Presence but chooses to remain at home, watching online out of convenience or laziness, there may be something lacking in their desire to receive Jesus. I think that is where what you mentioned as “second class worship” comes in. It IS NOT second class on God’s part. It is second class on the person’s part when they could choose to do more but don’t.

However, when one is not allowed to come to church because of the Coronavirus, other illness, severe weather, or lack of a church within a reasonable distance, one is making their best effort. When we make our best effort, God makes our effort fruitful. Here I include an image from a slide from my presentation on Baptism from my series, Sacraments: Channels of God’s Grace.

This information from the Catechism centers on the question of Baptism for babies who die without Baptism. I think the same is true for the Eucharist. We need the grace of the Eucharist. However, God is not bound by the Sacraments as the only way to give us the Real Presence of Jesus.

When we watch Adoration online, it might not feel the same. It’s not that Jesus isn’t there. First, it can be easier for us to open ourselves to Jesus in our church than sitting in a recliner in our living room. This is not a limitation on God’s end. It is our humanity. Here I reference Linda’s comment, “In addition perpetual adoration online does not have the added beauty of the church and the calm and quiet feeling”

One might think about how when a husband and wife are separated by distance, they can use the Internet to see each other live. However, they do not experience each other in the same way as they can in person.

However, when it comes to experiencing God, God transcends time and space. We cannot bring ourselves to God but God can come to us. God can give us the grace of Spiritual Communion (see explanation of an Act of Spiritual Communion). God can give us the full experience of his grace wherever we area.

So, does one truly share in the Real Presence from watching Mass or Adoration on television or online? In this case, yes. Remember, Jesus becomes present in the bread and wine through transubstantiation because God chooses to make it so.

A different question may be found in Linda’s comment, “I understand things are different now but the distance issue also creates a unique feeling.” The “unique feeling” is because watching online or on TV is not the same as coming in person. That doesn’t mean something is lacking on God’s part. The physical separation is a barrier for us. It is not for God. Again, God transcends time and place.

Looking ahead to the day when we can again gather together for Mass and Adoration, then you need to come to receive the fullness of what is offered unless you cannot because of illness or extreme weather. Until then, God gives us the grace you need in “attending” Mass online or on TV. It is not the same but God provides his grace to nourish our souls. Here I end with a slide from my presentation on the Eucharist regarding the Sunday Obligation to attend Mass.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

2 Comments

  1. Linda House says:

    Your response gives me a sense of peace and thankfulness that we are still sharing in the real presence although we cannot attend mass or adoration. A simple thank you does not seem adequate for your response. i hope others also feel a sense of relief after reading it.

    On another note- I understand after reading this and the vigil sermon the meaning of ontological change in Holy Orders.

  2. Fr. Jeff says:

    I’m glad it gives you a sense of peace. Thanks be to God.

    Peace,

    Fr. Jeff

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