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  • Sarah Beth Dippel


One of the things that is great about being a daughter of God is having brothers and sisters in Christ, a family created by God. When I think about family, my personal experiences come to mind. Family means having traditions that we share. We gather for major holidays. We call each other to check-in. We celebrate significant life accomplishments. We eat together, cry together, celebrate together. Life shared is what makes it full and meaningful and sometimes relieves our burdens and fears. I was thinking about this family dynamic when I read an article about Pope Francis and the online celebration of Mass. A couple of days ago, albeit during a homily at a virtual Mass, Pope Francis warned of the dangers of online Masses. Now, before you judge Papa, he admits he was "scolded" by a Bishop for this practice. Papa Francis warns that the Church is a community, and as a community, we gather around the table of the Lord to receive the sacraments. We eat together (the Eucharist), cry together (anointing of the sick), celebrate together (feasts, weddings, baptisms). He warns without the community and the sacraments, our relationship with God can become selfish. Papa isn't saying we shouldn't have a personal and intimate relationship with God. He is saying when we worship cut off from others, it isn't full. Have you ever tried celebrating something alone? Imagine popping a bottle of champagne to party, and now what? Pour yourself a glass and sit on the couch? Not much of a party. We can't celebrate the Mass properly in front of a screen in the spare bedroom. Without coming together to share the Mass, without gathering at the table to eat, we miss fully taking part in the celebration. Now, do not misunderstand me here. Those Masses are valid (a priest does not need a layperson present for the proper celebration of the Mass), and I am ever so grateful to the priests that are giving of their new skills to make watching from home possible. Lastly, I am not judging the decisions made by our Bishops to keep the faithful safe; they are making the decisions they feel necessary at this time. But I believe, the danger Papa is referring to is that we get complacent, we get lazy. We are in danger if we begin to think gathering as a community and the sacraments aren't vital. We are in danger if we think virtual worship is equal to being present with our church family. We are in danger if the Eucharist isn't the center of our lives. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I am here to tell you to listen to Papa.

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