Surfing Mass-casts

By Al Donner

As a life-long Catholic, I must confess. I did something Sunday morning I’ve never done before. Even a month ago it would have seemed not quite right based on my Catholic foundation. Yet now it feels spiritually uplifting and beneficial!

Confined at home in the coronavirus shutdown, I followed the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass online in my home parish church. My pastor celebrated it as I have seen him do so many times when I was in the pews; yet Sunday I participated online as he celebrated Mass in a virtually empty church. Very different, but it felt the right way to spend an hour on Sunday morning.

Then, facing another day at home, I clicked on the Western Dominican Province website just as its Mass began. With several dozen Dominicans participating, another compelling homily and majestic music, it was moving and deepened my sense of closeness to my Creator.

Then I clicked onto the Word on Fire website and heard and saw the Mass celebrated a third time, by Bishop Robert Barron in his own chapel. In contrast to the full Dominican community, this was up-close and personal, just the basics, plus another thoughtful, crisp homily, the third of my day.

Just a few months ago I could not have envisioned channel-surfing three Masses on a Sunday morning. Yet each reminded me, in different ways, who I am and what I can achieve with God’s embrace.

Yesterday it seemed natural to use our society’s most compelling media to bring me closer to God our Creator. Each in its own way was reverent and uplifting.

The always-on, always-connected world we live in today makes it easy to lose focus on the reality that we are connected to our living and loving God.  

Yet at this moment in time I find that every on-line Mass can connect me to the reality of our God, each bringing me into the optimism and hope we Catholics find in the Mass.

The Mass is a single message, infinitely optimistic and powerful, about our Creator and about our individual value as human beings. The Mass is probably the most powerful way to keep our sight on God and our actions oriented toward our creator. It reminds me that neither I nor any other human person is, or can be, the master of the universe. 

Joining a Mass on-line is a wonderful use of contemporary tools–tools we developed with the intelligence God gave us–to focus on God’s central and loving role in our creation, our lives and our future.

Will Mass on-line ever be able to replace my physical presence in a church to participate in the Mass? No. 

But channel surfing a Mass, or several Masses, in the present time seems to be a grace-filled opportunity to bring me closer to the Creator, a blessed way to strengthen my connection with God and to deepen my beliefs. 


Al Donner is a San Francisco Bay Area-based Catholic writer and seasoned, retired news reporter.

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