Online : Offline


‘Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the  path  the sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD’ ( Psalms 01:01-02).

As the psalmist says, there are two ways before us. It has been so throughout  history.  It is  a delusion that  there are a number of ways. No, there are only two ways.  You can either switch the lights  on or switch  them off.  No other way.  You can start your car and ride it, or you can park it somewhere. No other way.  You can marry or remain a bachelor. No other way. You can eat or  go on fast. No middle path.

‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) is not an option especially when it concerns matters as important as  your life and death.

In every  situation we have to take  a decision. A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is what is expected  of us.   When somebody asks you ”Who is Jesus Christ?” The answer should be clear, specific and unambiguous. Of course the answer depends on your personal relation with  Jesus. As for me, Jesus is the Word Incarnate, Only Son of God,  and Only Saviour  of mankind. So I am a Christian. If you do not subscribe to my views, well, you have every right to do so. But  then, you will be placed on the other side of the  picture, that  you will be counted among those who deny the divinity of  Jesus.  You cannot take a neutral stand like, ‘yeah, Jesus was a good man, a good prophet, a social reformer etc. etc…. but…’, even while asserting  to be a Christian yourself.  By taking such a stand  you  are denying  the divinity of Jesus and what he achieved through his sacrifice in the  cross for our salvation. It means you are positioning yourself against  Christ. In our folly we might think that  we  have selected the  safer path by  diluting the  core  of  Christianity   so as to present  ourselves as  amiable to  others. It is sheer folly. There is no middle path. We are either  for Christ or  against Christ.

To say Jesus Christ is  our Lord and Saviour, we need to have a personal relation with him. Until we discover  that   personal equation with  Jesus, we cannot  confess that he is our only saviour.  What is the best way to  nurture a  truly intimate relationship  with Jesus and  grow in it everyday? Undoubtedly, it is by attending Holy Mass everyday and partaking in the body and blood of  Jesus who   offers them for the forgiveness of  our sins  and as assurance for our eternal life.  Should we emphasize more about the paramount need of attending  Holy Mass  every day?

Understandably, many of  us may not be in a position to go to the church every day.  But Sunday Mass is  something which cannot, and should not, be skipped. Catholic Church has made  Sunday a day of obligation. It is to keep the  commandment of our Lord to  honor the Sabbath.

We have grown up in an environment where churches were aplenty and open  all the day, all the week. Finding a church for  Sunday Mass  was  child’s play, be it in a busy metropolis or in  a remote  village.  Since then nothing  has changed; but for  a few hundred   churches across the globe  that   accidentally (?) caught fire  or vandalised by insane (?) individuals, rest are still in good  condition.   Their only problem is with the doors. They are closed at many places depriving the faithful of the   opportunity to meet their Lord in the  serenity of their churches.  There are  other places where  churches  are opened and  Holy Mass restarted. For them the problem is a bit different. Though the church is open, the hearts of  the believers are  closed. They simply don’t want to  come to the church.

Why? Because they  have  discovered a better option. Instead of  taking the  trouble of going to the church, they can watch the Holy Mass  sitting in the comfort of their drawing room, kitchen, lawn, parking lot  or any other place  of their choice.  Why should they  spend an hour in the church sitting next to  strangers? For them, health is paramount and social distancing is the key to ward off Covid-19. 

In such a situation   it  is no surprise that  online Masses are becoming more and more popular. As this trend  increases there is a proportionate increase in the vacant  pews  as well.  Now let me ask you something and I request you to be sincere with your answer. How do you feel at an online Mass? Do you get the same experience  as that of attending the Mass in  a church?  As for me, I would say ‘no’ and I presume most of the Catholics across the  world would  give the   same answer. Then why should the Church permit the faithful to  attend Holy Mass online and  relax the  Sunday obligation to that extent? Because  there was no other way at that time.  It was  either ‘No Mass’ or ‘Online Mass’. Church preferred the  second option for obvious  reasons. 

It doesn’t mean that the faithful are  always permitted to  fulfil their Sunday obligation by attending online Masses. Catholic  teachings are very  clear in this regard. Online Masses are intended only for  those who are not in a position to attend regular Masses at a church due to  some pressing reasons.  The reasons can  range from closure of your parish church to physical impediments to   severe illness or advanced age restricting one’s mobility. We often forget this  important aspect and keep on  attending  online Masses even  when our churches are  open and   regular Masses have started there.

What is the difference  between a regular   Mass and an online Mass? Imagine  a  dinner at the White  House with the President as  host   for which  you are also  invited. Naturally you will be elated. Now compare it  with   your own dinner at your  dining room while watching  President’s dinner in the  television.    Regular Mass is like attending the banquet in all its splendour. Its most important part is that we are  receiving the true body and blood of Jesus there. In other words, we are participating in the FORM  of the Holy Mass as well as its MATTER. Both are essential for getting the  desired  benefits out of it.

On the other hand, in the case of  online Mass, we  pass through the FORM  of Mass skipping its  MATTER.  Do you think that you can derive  the  full graces and merits  flowing from  a Holy Mass if you attend it  online?

Some might ask, “What should we do if we are not in a position to attend regular Mass?”  Well,  our God is merciful  as well as omniscient.  He knows

your predicament. He knows  that  though you   long for attending the Mass in your  church you are  prevented from it  by reasons beyond your control. There are thousands of such Christians who devoutly attend  online Masses at their homes and benefit  from  Spiritual Communion. But it is an exception, not rule. 

I am not telling about them  but  about those, who in spite of being able to attend  the Mass at their churches, prefer online Mass for their convenience. A time  is coming when we will long for attending a Holy Mass.  A time will come when we will frantically run to  get a  priest. A time will come when we will  stand before the closed  doors of  our churches , weeping  and wailing. Those days are not far away. In fact we have already entered into that phase.  Yet, if you could not  appreciate the  true value of  our Lord’s sacrifice as re-enacted every day  in Holy Mass, what else are you looking for?  

Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us;  ‘There is no surer pledge or dearer sign of this great hope in the new heavens and new earth “in which righteousness dwells,” than the Eucharist. Every time this mystery is celebrated, “the work of our redemption is carried on” and we “break the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ'( CCC 1405).

If you are still  in favor of attending online Mass, listen what the  Church has to say; ‘At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit,become Christ’s Body and Blood’ (CCC 1333). 

Also listen to  our Lord’s words; ‘So Jesus said to them,” Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). Don’t you want that life, the one  Jesus procured for us  by giving up his own? 

“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them” (John 6:56).Don’t you want to abide in Jesus for which he calls us every day from the altar? Won’t you let  Jesus abide in you, which  will please him more than anything else? 

If your answer is ‘yes’, then come to the  church. There the pews are still vacant and are waiting for you.  Attend as many Holy Masses as  possible when the church doors are  still open.  ‘Before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”, before the sun and  the light and the moon and the  stars are darkened and the  clouds return with the rain’ ( Eccle. 12: 1-2) return to your churches. What  else do you  hope will save you from the  impending perils of the fast approaching end times?

Do not follow the  advice of the wicked who will  discourage  you from going to church. Do not  take the path of sinners who  always skip the  road to  the church. Do not sit in the seat of  those scoffers who never sit in  the  pews. We are  to be counted  along with those who delight in the  law of the  LORD.

Let us sing:

‘Broken for me, broken for you,

the body of Jesus, broken for you.

This is my body given for you:

eat it remembering I died for you.

This is my blood I shed for you,

for your forgiveness, making you new’.