As mandates of quarantine rolled out across Europe, Asia and now the U.S., local parishes and religious orders scramble to find new ways to bring God’s Word and the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass to our ears and hearts.
Many Catholic parishes and religious communities are live-streaming Masses. (see our extensive list here)
But that’s not all.
We’ve discovered a surprising number of Perpetual Adoration chapels around the world that livestream Adoration for the home-bound.
Some pastors open their parishes during the day or during set hours so that parishioners may stop in to pray yet still maintain “social distancing.”
From the rooftop
One innovative preacher, Pastor Tom Jordan of First Baptist Church Posey Crossroads in Prattville, Alabama, took it to the rooftop, literally. And he did it In drenching Alabama rain.
Pastor Tom (see photo) rigged up a tent-like cover, a megaphone loud speaker and a video camera to live-stream as he preached. Rain poured in the background, but rain didn’t keep people home.
His congregation gathered in the parking lot below, remaining in their cars, listening to the loud speaker and honking approval now and then. Notably, the rain subsided as the fairly short service continued. The live stream video is found here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I-j3zfVGGo)
Pastor Tom’s rooftop preaching fittingly focused on “Now is the Time,” culling from Romans 13:11 and following, which reads:
“And that knowing the time, that now it is high time that we awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent. The day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envy. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof.”
In Jewish circles, innovation includes an online “Quarantine Shabbat,” or Shabbat service, offered by Josh Nelson, Noah Aronson, Shira Kline, Elana Arian and Rabbi Leora Kaye via Facebook Live. Their post read: “We’re all at home. Let’s be together….We’ll sing, we’ll pray, we’ll sanitize!… We hope you’ll join us! Shabbat shalom”
Innovative priests — in 3-wheeled cars, airplanes, parishioner pics
In Bibione, Italy, Fr. Andrea Vena mounted a statue of Mary on a three-wheeled car and drove through his parish area reciting prayers, offering hope, and stopping every now and then to bless people with Holy Water and pass out Saint cards. It was the day before the government announced harsher national lockdown and Fr. Vena knew his parishioners would be out shopping at the local farmer’s market before it closed.
In the Middle East, Maronite Priest Flies With Blessed Sacrament over Lebanon.
Fr. Majdi Allawi Haqq Qurban, an ex-Muslim and now devout Maronite Catholic priest took to the skies a few weeks ago with the Blessed Sacrament to “bless and protect” his homeland as the coronavirus spreads across Lebanon.
With his monstrance, crucifix and and a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Fr. Qurban hired a private plane and flew over Beirut and other parts of Lebanon on a Saturday “pleading with the Lord to protect Lebanon” from the virus. (see featured photo for this article)
The French and Arabic speaking priest said that the purpose of flying over Lebanon with the Real Presence of Jesus was to “bless the country, protect the homeland and heal those who have been infected by the virus.” (read story here)
In the small Italian town of Brianza, Italy, another hotbed for COVID-19 coronavirus, the local priest asked his parishioners to email him “selfies or other pictures of themselves so he could print them out and stick them on the pews”. It made him not feel alone as he said Mass. He received hundreds of images and, Time magazine reports, “he ran out of toner for his printer.
Italy remains in lockdown until at least April 3, 2020.
“We are witnessing a new form of popular devotion that might recall the times of the great revolutions in the Church,” says Father Paolo Benanti, a Franciscan and professor of Ethics of Technology at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome. He compared the movement to the Mendicant orders in the 13th century from which the Dominicans and the Franciscans emerged. “Only today the space for change is not the piazzas, but the whole digital sphere.”`
For Catholics especially: Digital cannot replace in-person
Fr. Luca Peyron, of Turin, is author of the book “Digital Incarnation,’ and professor of Theology of Innovation at the Catholic University of Milan and the University of Turin. He leaves his parish church open for those who want to pray, and his sermons are available on YouTube.
Fr. Luca Peyron is not a fan of digital Mass.
“Sermons are one thing, the holy mass is another,” Father Luca says. “The risk of the virtual world is that instead of using technology, a person may identify with it and feel like God, rather than getting closer to God.”
His fear is that, like those working from home who develop a taste for it, worshippers will begin to demand more and more masses online because it is convenient.
- Exceptional List of Online Masses, Adoration & More – Catholic Business Journal