Am following Mass celebrated in...

Warrington in England, in the Liverpool archdiocese (where the feast of Saint Maughold takes precedence before that of St Peter Canisius). I have been hearing the chirping of the waking birds since half past four: lovely music to accompany the most august Sacrifice. 

The first item that caught my attention in the media today was Dr Magister's return to the question of televised and livestreamed Masses at Settimo Cielo; he features this morning another contribution from Dr Leonardo Lugaresi. I want to re-read St Augustine, cited by Lugaresi, but cannot at the moment. 


Later in the morning. I've still not gotten around to the passage in the Confessiones Dr Lugaresi wrote about, but Bruvver Eccles is on the ball, as usual.


The passages that Dr Lugaresi draws attention to are in the third book (III,2,2-4,3,5). Augustine begins:

Rapiebant me spectacula theatrica, plena imaginibus miseriarum mearum et fomitibus ignis mei. quid est quod ibi homo vult dolere cum spectat luctuosa et tragica, quae tamen pati ipse nollet? et tamen pati vult ex eis dolorem spectator et dolor ipse est voluptas eius. quid est nisi mirabilis insania?

I was carried away by the shows in the theatre, which mirrored my own miserable imaginings and served as tinder for my own fire. Why is it that in the theatre a man is willing to suffer along with sorrowful and tragic actions which he has nonetheless no urge to himself endure? He is willing to be spectator of such sorrows and the sorrow is itself his pleasure. What is this unless some unearthly madness? 

He goes on:

... sed qualis tandem misericordia in rebus fictis et scenicis? non enim ad subveniendum provocatur auditor sed tantum ad dolendum invitatur, et actori earum imaginum amplius favet cum amplius dolet. et si calamitates illae hominum, vel antiquae vel falsae, sic agantur ut qui spectat non doleat, abscedit inde fastidiens et reprehendens; si autem doleat, manet intentus et gaudens lacrimat.

But what counts as mercy, compassion, in the viewer of shows and plays? The audience member isn't wanted to help the actors but to feel a response, and the more emotional the response the better the actor is favored. And if the staged calamities (whether from human experience or entirely fictitious), don't have the effect of making the spectator feel distress, eh, he walks out feeling superior to the producer's entertainment and critical: whereas if he does feel the drama, he remains throughout captured by it, enjoying his own tears. 

I want at hand Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theodramatik! Dr Lugaresi continues, on Settimo Cielo:

... Going to the rescue of the actor who “suffers” on the stage would obviously be absurd. The only thing we can do-- indeed, that we are called upon to do, as spectators-- is to “enjoy” the emotion that this suffering elicits in us. But this is exactly what we do every day by watching the world on television. In this way Augustine thus provides us with a good criterion for distinguishing the logic of the performance of an entertainment from that of real life. And it is the criterion of responsible relationship.... 
What does all this have to do with televised Masses? Much, in my opinion, if we set our minds first of all to that which the Mass is in its essence: an event and not a performance.
To be more precise: the Mass is the event par excellence....

At Holy Mass, the one event of the Cross and Resurrection is eternally represented on all the altars of the world throughout all that remains of history. There is one divine Actor who invites us to participate in the Action He does for us and with us in Him through His priest: precisely that cannot happen via the ether and in front of laptop screens.

Now an event involves participation, not the attendance of spectators. To participate in it one must be present at the time and in the place where it happens, because otherwise there is no real relationship with it. And to be present, one must be there with the body. This must be reiterated today, in a cultural context in which the unity of the spiritual-bodily human  experience is increasingly brought into question by our habituation to exclusively virtual places and relationships.

I think the argumentum here will fall on large numbers of deafened ears, alas, although the Sovereign Pontiff the other day suggested that his own have been opened. But spes contra spem.


A few days later, Thursday morning. Have just read this Rorate Caeli post of Father Richard Cipolla's; he is addressing this question, too, of what goes on with this streaming Mass business. Well worth reading.

... If one is streaming a movie then what one sees is the image of that movie, and a movie itself is an image. One can stream a “live” concert and say things as:  “It was just like being there!” But because the Mass is truly a supernatural event whose heart is the mystery of the offering of the Son to the Father, the image on the screen is Nothing, in the sense that it is not the Mass.  It is watching Father going through the motions of the Mass. It cannot be and is not the Mass. I saw an invitation from a bishop, a good man, inviting those of his diocese to “join him in celebrating Mass this coming Sunday” via streaming.  No. Those who watch cannot join in the act because their physical presence is required to be part of the supernatural event that is the Mass....