When the coronavirus lockdowns first hit, churches scrambled to live stream their services. In April of 2020, microphones, cameras, mixers, and computer HDMI adapters were either impossible to find online or prohibitively expensive. Most churches went on to figure things out and live streaming became commonplace, but how useful have they been in strengthening the faith of the flock? From my experience, live streaming the Divine Liturgy hurts more than helps.

I was in charge of setting up live streaming for my Armenian church before joining ROCOR in May 2021. The task was more complicated than my home setup because, for the Armenian Liturgy, there were four different locations that needed a microphone: the priest, the deacons around the altar, the reader in front of the altar, and the choir pit. In a complicated setup that involved dozens of feet of microphone wire, I ended up using two mixers, five microphones (including two wireless microphones), one camera, and one computer running Streamlabs software.

Once our live stream was up and running, I began to receive many thanks from the community for allowing an average of 20-50 people each week to watch the Liturgy from home in decent quality. I felt like I had done a good deed, and was proud of myself, but in hindsight I realize that I may have inadvertently damaged the spiritual development of the parish.

The first sign I knew something was off was when my Armenian mother remarked that she kept the live stream running in the background while cleaning the house and doing laundry (she did not regularly come to church with me). She never made comments on the priest’s sermon, but instead asked me questions about who the tall man was, or who the lady in the hat was. During the live stream itself, I saw comments in the chat of people asking me who was singing in the choir. There were also complaints about the sound or video. “It’s not loud enough!” “I hear static in the background!” The first thought in my mind when I encountered them was, “If you want high quality, you should come to church!” There were some individuals who did not come for many months on end but would often watch at home.

Attendance was heavily depressed for a year. There were many people who watched the live stream but stopped coming in. Unless they met with the priest privately, they did not confess their sins sacramentally through the Armenian Church’s public confession process, they did not receive the Eucharist, they did not participate in communal prayer, and they did not receive spiritual guidance. The live stream was the excuse that allowed them to stay home and still feel that were close to the church. Instead, they were deepening their dependence on technology and the comfort of an easy Christianity where their fears and anxieties about a pandemic were indulged, and I say this not only of the Armenian parish I was in, but all Christians who may have used live streams as a pretext to stay home instead of claw tooth and nail into the church to heal their souls by taking the Body and Blood of our Savior and then participating in fellowship afterward.

Does the live stream hurt the faith or does it merely reveal those who are lukewarm? I would guess a bit of both, but if the live stream wasn’t available, at least those who are lukewarm would feel a tinge on their conscience that they should be in the church. With the live stream, however, they can rationalize their lack of attendance by watching the Liturgy on their phones and deceive themselves that they are an active Christian who is “close” to their parish.

A couple of days after I was received into ROCOR at the monastery in Jordanville, New York, I caught a cold. I asked my godfather, a monk, if I could still attend the Liturgy even though I was sick. He replied, “You need the Liturgy even more when you are sick!” And are we not only sick in body but also in soul, in need of continual healing and grace? I can think of very few valid excuses to ever miss the Divine Liturgy on Sunday. To believe that an electronic simulacrum of the Liturgy can be a suitable substitute is the height of folly.

The parish I currently go to does not have a live stream. Not coincidentally, it’s usually packed, and sometimes I hardly have enough space around my body to do the sign of the cross without whacking the person beside me. I don’t go to Church to feel spiritual, or to be a Christian for only a couple of hours, but to participate in the healing sacraments and draw nearer to God. I go to engage in dialogue with my fellow Christians in a state of post-Communion grace, which I certainly cannot do from home.

If the current head of my parish asks me to set up a live stream, I would probably obey, but first I would warn him that it will likely decrease church attendance, enable a lukewarmness of spirit, hurt fellowship, and for some, trivialize how they view the sacraments, because if you really believed that the Body and Blood of Christ come forth from the chalice, how could you miss it because of the fear of catching what for most people is no worse than a cold? I had one whole year while in the Armenian Church to witness how live streaming ultimately bore no fruit that I could discern, and should be rejected by Christians as a suitable means of worshipping our Lord God.

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Maybe door prizes would bring people back :laughter:

From Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death", watching something serious on TV trivializes it to entertainment.

Good post, Roosh, I recall my church buying all sorts of equipment to make the livestream better, but it's hard going convincing anyone that it's not for the good. They really think it's a good thing.

Basically they're saying: "You know all those things we used to tell you about how important it was to come to church? None of it was true!"

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Absolutely it should be streamed. Might make it easier for Christians who haven't chosen a denomination yet (like me) to experience Orthodoxy.

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Absolutely it should be streamed. Might make it easier for Christians who haven't chosen a denomination yet (like me) to experience Orthodoxy.

A live stream or reading books isn't experiencing Orthodoxy. When I was inquiring I looked at videos of it, did some reading, basically came away with "huh, interesting."

When I finally went to my first Divine Liturgy my mouth was agape at the sights and sounds and the choir and the holiness of it, and it was more than mere human senses we're familiar with. You are literally in the midst of the choir of angels and saints united throughout time and space with the entire Church past and present; Christ Himself manifests before you. You don't get any of that from a livestream. I could feel a totally different dimension open up within me that I did not experience at Catholic masses or Protestant services, or watching a video of the Divine Liturgy for that matter. I'm hesitant to share my experience because I don't want others to be expecting something mindblowing, but I really don't want people getting used to a livestream experience.

Going into my first Liturgy I honestly didn't even know the "Our Father." I don't want anyone to feel like they need to do a certain amount of studying before they feel comfortable to go to their first Divine Liturgy.

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I have done a similar thing for my parish, make a video, which we put on YouTube after. In hindsight I think a bad thing to do.

Church is foremost to connect with god, and 2nd to connect with the Parish. Those 2 things go hand in hand together.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) describes it this way:

There follows the Rite of Peace, by which the Church entreats peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament. (82)

We need to be in peace with eachother first.
Beyond the videographing, which is opening it for the full world to see. This openness is problematic I think. It gives the viewer the feeling he was there. It's the same with TV. As if you were there. But you were totally not.

Church is not just the image on a screen. It's the whole process. Walking to the church. Getting ready for the service. The service. The talk after. The ride or walk home.

The whole process is maybe 3 hours fully for praising good. And like you say when you sit at home watching. You skip. Iron. It's 10% of total. And that's not praising god.

In my opinion I'd love the churches to closedown for non-believers. In modern times anyone just walks into a church to make pictures. Nobody would have done that 100 years ago. Do we want to be a museum? Or a living Parish praising God? This openness for tourism is a big problem.Also for non-believers as it has no value.

I remember going to Vatican for a Sunday service and in front of me where 4 girls making selfies. It's sick to be in a sacred ritual in the place and have tourists around you.

I've completely had it with church pandering to liberals. And I can't change church but I can change within my parish. I'm in the communication committee and we decided to stop making videos. For exactly the reason you gave, Church is coming together.

We focus less on visiting the churches as a touristic visit but focus on more in our website on "How to become a catholic?" And on the new site we focus fully on the services we do (even easy import in your own agenda), parish info and how to become a catholic. And we are seeing now if we want to make some material for that.

Less clutter. Service. Becoming catholic. And Parish.Well that's my 5 cents. Great you are sharing your doubts and I fully feel you there.

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When I finally went to my first Divine Liturgy my mouth was agape at the sights and sounds and the choir and the holiness of it, and it was more than mere human senses we're familiar with.

I so relate. 2 years ago I was Chișinău, Moldova and walked into an Orthodox marriage. I just started crying. What beauty. How divine.

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I'm strongly against streaming, as is my priest.

It reduces communion and community to a form of passive entertainment, where instead of giving (our time, our full attention, our love to others) we take a shortcut to receive. The Liturgy has to be experienced with all senses and experienced, not just observed.

I believe we're entering a period of time where preaching and living the basic tenets of the faith will result in persecution. Priests are free to discuss sensitive issues more freely and openly when they trust only the present community can listen.

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A live stream or reading books isn't experiencing Orthodoxy.

Point taken.

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Live streaming church is the chinese food version of worship.
You'll feel something, but shortly after finishing you'll need more.

The problem is, a decent live stream takes significant work and a highly trained and dedicated videography team. Love him, hate him, but Joel Osteen got his start running the TV recording and broadcast equipment for his father's church.

And even with all of that effort, you're still putting forth a product that is only a poor facsimile of being there in person.

The Holy Spirit cannot be transmitted over earthly signals.

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This is a very relevant topic in today's times.

In Canada Churches have been closed , or limited in capacity to such an extent that we have not able been to attend consistently at times.

I am Catholic so I did begin tuning into the liturgy at different times. I found myself very different then when actually in Church. My phone was there, the kitchen was in the next room, and the fact that you are watching it from a television or from your home does somehow interfere and turn it to a casual thing. Surely I bear alot of the responsibility for this myself in being undisciplined.

Catholicism has a theological concept called "Spiritual Communion". In it, on a given sunday if someone is unable to go to Church due to extreme weather, distance, or another reason, they can pray to make a spiritual communion with God. This requires a great deal of piety but something we can all strive towards. In watching the latin liturgy online, for myself, it didn't seem like a practice which lended itself to spiritual communion. Friends of mine recommend praying a rosary and working through the readings and liturgy of the day independently. My instinct on the matter based on my experience is that this might be a better way to spiritually commune or provide a more useful replacement to being locked out of liturgy vs. watching online.

Do you kneel when watching from home, or stand? I found myself sitting there with a coffee thinking, well this is recorded and I'm not in the actual presence of God like I would be in the Church.

I am in agreement with the article, we should be very wary of replacing actual attendance in Church when we are "locked out" with anything other than prayer. The technology involved concerns me, and how it causes us to view the liturgy as a "show".

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I'm strongly against streaming, as is my priest.

It reduces communion and community to a form of passive entertainment, where instead of giving (our time, our full attention, our love to others) we take a shortcut to receive. The Liturgy has to be experienced with all senses and experienced, not just observed.

One of the big components of the fake plague is that most big societal changes occured on the heels of an epidemic, or famine, which often go together because people are more likely to get sick in the latter case. War and illness also go together for the same reason.

However, when these things occur organically you can't really control the blowback, and our hyper-anxious oligarchs who want a new government are aware of that.

I feel like all this is trying to clean up the vestiges of analog culture that they want gone; without the framework of "you will die, or get someone else sick just by existing and therefore feel guilty" older people would have never accepted Zoom, or streaming church services.

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This is a very relevant topic in today's times.

In Canada Churches have been closed , or limited in capacity to such an extent that we have not able been to attend consistently at times.

I am Catholic so I did begin tuning into the liturgy at different times. I found myself very different then when actually in Church. My phone was there, the kitchen was in the next room, and the fact that you are watching it from a television or from your home does somehow interfere and turn it to a casual thing. Surely I bear alot of the responsibility for this myself in being undisciplined.

Marshall McLuhan observed that "the medium is the message". That is, the medium of TV turns the message into something different, something TV-ish (which means "entertaining"). Don't be too hard on yourself for "being undisciplined", the TV changed the message on you.

I would recommend people who want to delve deeper read Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" which has a chapter on religion on TV. It's no coincidence that "TV Preacher" is a type, and it's not flattering.

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I think the only reason a service should be recorded/live-streamed is for shut-ins and those who are hospitalized, i.e., those who have valid reasons why they can’t physically attend church in-person. Some churches have a Pastor/Priest that goes around visiting these people and will do the sacraments there but I imagine it would be a great comfort for the elderly to be able to watch/listen to the services.

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Do not live-stream ever. These are Holy Mysteries to be engaged fully, with all the senses, and not for the non-Orthodox to peek in on.

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Absolutely it should be streamed. Might make it easier for Christians who haven't chosen a denomination yet (like me) to experience Orthodoxy.

You’re not experiencing Orthodoxy through a screen. You have to actually go and participate.

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I've tried to watch a few services and never get too far in before turning it off. You can't feel an atmosphere or reverence online. There's something that goes on between Christians who gather in worship that is ineffable. I can feel it but I can't describe it.

We're creating barriers and, apart from the majority here, Christians are falling, hook line and sinker, for this devilish trend. My Orthodox church wrote in the newsletter that they've gone back to wearing masks in obedience to the state's ruling. Right there is a barrier. Then there's the crab waltz that people, Christians included, do when they try to maintain some arbitrary distance from others as they navigate their way to a seat or space. Offer people like this the out of online services and they will grab at it. Satan and his crew are laughing their heads off.

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A very long time ago (1987) I attended a Roman Catholic Tridentine Mass in Los Angeles (when visiting the USA from UK). The parish was extremely parochial and the priest would not allow outsiders to sit in the main church (or receive communion - despite the fact we were Catholics). We had to sit in an ante-room adjacent to the church where the mass was broadcast on TV.

This was effectively the first time I even saw a live-streamed Mass. The TV basically showed the tabernacle on the altar. I remember seeing a kid genuflecting to the TV and being a bit scandalised, as if somehow the real presence could be transmitted in by UHF. I understood the sentiment, and the kid was just showing respect, but it seemed blasphemous; like he was worshipping the TV.

Plus ca change ...

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I remember seeing a kid genuflecting to the TV and being a bit scandalised, as if somehow the real presence could be transmitted in by UHF. I understood the sentiment, and the kid was just showing respect, but it seemed blasphemous; like he was worshipping the TV.

Yeah, I think there's something innate in us that demands reality. My mom stopped watching streaming services because it made her too depressed, but my in-laws watched faithfully and set up their music stands in front of the TV (and even got dressed up for the midnight service on Pascha; they agreed to a porch visit that day but refused to hug us). They even said things like "oh isn't it wonderful we don't have to go out late this year!" but I think that was their way of coping, it did actually bother them.

I would rather have gall bladder surgery than go through most of 2020 again.

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I also have problems with livestreaming services.

I think it's okay to have them filmed, for an inquirer who wants some idea of what it is like before attending. But it should always be clear that it is simply for educational rather than spiritual purposes.

To say that livestreaming services is spiritually sufficient is basically saying the temple doesn't matter. You can just lay on your sofa eating junk food and watch it on your TV whilst you scroll through Instagram on your phone. Anyone that is not spiritually blind can see that it makes a difference to actually be inside the temple.

As I say I think it's okay for a church to record one or two services for educational purposes, as an example for people who are curious about visiting. But encouraging people to stay at home, and giving them the impression that this is spiritually sufficient is extremely dangerous.

It's basically saying that the consecrated space of the temple is irrelevant. I don't know if there is any precedent in history for this idea, but it doesn't strike me as very Orthodox

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There’s a useful saying which I think can apply here: Don’t let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good. ;)


Internet Masses: Spiritual Benefits

Mass Prom

QUESTION: What benefits do I derive from watching the traditional Latin Mass on the internet? I know I don’t get the full benefit I would if I were there in person.
RESPONSE: It is clear, based on the teaching of pre-Vatican II theologians regarding hearing Mass over the radio or television, that one could not fulfill his Sunday obligation by viewing a Mass broadcast over the internet. The law requires physical presence at the Holy Sacrifice, or at least being part of a group that is actually present (in the case of a congregation so large, for example, that it spills out beyond the doors of the church into the street).
So, if you were able to be physically present at Mass under the usual conditions on a Sunday or a Holy Day, you would be obliged to go to it. You could not choose instead to remain at home glued to your computer— or indeed, to remain in the church parking lot, hovering over your I-Phone — and still fulfill your duty to assist at Mass.
Thus the question of the obligation.
However, the spiritual benefit of a broadcast Mass is another matter — you can indeed benefit from it. This is clear from the comment of Fr. Francis Connell, a well-known moral theologian at Catholic University in the 1950s, who addressed the question of hearing Mass over the radio:

“One may participate in the benefits of the Mass without being actually present — namely, by directing one’s intention and devotion to the sacred rite. By hearing Mass over the radio one can certainly foster his devotion, and thus profit considerably from the offering of the Holy Sacrifice. Indeed, it could happen that one who participates in the Holy Sacrifice in this manner will gain much more benefit than many of those who are actually present.” (Father Connell Answers Moral Questions [Washington: CUA 1959] 75–6)

So, in these days when true Masses offered by real priests are few and far between, Catholics can at least have the consolation of knowing that a facet of modern technology so often used for evil can also be used to foster their own devotion — and indeed, to bring to them the benefits of a true Mass, wherever it is offered.
Deo gratias!
Link for
St. Gertrude the Great Church
West Chester Ohio • Internet Mass Simulcasts
Sundays: 7.30, 9.00, 11.30 am, 5.45 pm EST
School Days: 11.20 am with children’s sermon

[Source: http://www.fathercekada.com/2008/11/01/internet-masses-spiritual-benefits/]


What to Do If You Have No Mass​

LatinMass

Ten Tips from Bishop Daniel L. Dolan​

I AM OFTEN asked, “What should I do if I have no Mass?”
First, it is not a sin to miss Mass due to great distance or other serious excusing circumstances. It is a sin, however, to attend the Novus Ordo. It is also a sin, objectively speaking, to assist at an otherwise valid traditional Latin Mass that is offered in union with the modernist false “pope” and his hierarchy. (For an explanation, see Grain of Incense: Sedevacantists and Una Cum Masses, and Should I Assist at a Mass that Names Benedict XVI in the Canon?) The Church would never have permitted such assistance in the past. It is a lie, it is a sacrilege, and it is grievously offensive to Almighty God.
But what to do if you have no good Mass available to you? Fr. Cekada recently advised a correspondent, “Deepen your own knowledge of the Catholic faith, educate yourself about the errors of the modernists, sanctify yourself, form the members of your family in the faith by word and example, do your best to keep a cheerful spirit in the face of adversity and put everything in the hands of God,” and I heartily endorse his words.
In a word: Do everything you can at home, without a priest! Here are some specifics:
altar_myhome
1. SET UP A FAMILY ALTAR:
Set up a family altar or shrine. Enthrone the Sacred Heart there as King of Love in your home. (You may obtain the ceremonial from us.)
2. USE SACRAMENTALS: Have and use blessed candles, holy water (we’ll send you some if you’ll only cover postage) as well as a blessed crucifix and statues and holy pictures, medals and scapulars. Also procure and use the various sacramentals blessed on special feasts of the liturgical year: Palm crosses, Assumption herbs and flowers, the Three Kings’ blessing, blessed Palms, etc.
3. BLESS! Sprinkle your home with holy water frequently, bless your food and your children. Make frequent signs of the cross.
4. SET A REGULAR TIME FOR SUNDAY WORSHIP: Set aside a time every Sunday for Mass prayers, spiritual reading and catechism, especially for children.
5. SAY SPECIAL SUNDAY PRAYERS: Your Sunday devotional hour could take many forms:

6. LISTEN TO OUR SERMONS: We have a great archive of excellent sermons on the St. Gertrude the Great website, delivered by a variety of preachers and covering an array of topics: the liturgy, the saint of the day, Catholic doctrine, apologetics, moral topics, contemporary issues, questions of special interest to traditional Catholics, and much, much more. You can listen to the sermons online or download them to an mp3 player.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
7. WATCH MASS ON THE INTERNET:
Set up a computer, and use the Internet to follow our live webcasts of the Mass on SGGResources.org. The times for the regularly scheduled webcasts (Eastern time zone) are as follows:

  • Sunday Masses: 7:30, 9:00 (High), 11:30 AM, 5:45 PM.
  • School Days: 11:20 AM (High) with children’s sermon
  • Fridays: 5:45 PM with Benediction.
  • Saturdays: 7:30, 8:10 AM
  • Holy Days: Mornings and evenings as announced in SGG bulletin

A schedule of our other service and Mass times appears in the SGG weekly bulletin, which you can download from our parish home page. Some of these are webcast, but since our schedule changes every week, all webcasts cannot be announced in advance, so you just have to tune in to see if we are broadcasting.
And here’s a tip: By making the screen image larger, you can greatly improve your experience of watching Mass on the Internet. This is easily done by connecting an HDMI cable from your computer to the HDMI port on large computer monitor or a flat-screen television.
8. NO INTERNET? USE A DVD: If you can’t watch one of our live webcasts, purchase a DVD of the Mass, such as our Three Traditional Masses DVD Watch and listen to it devoutly, uniting yourself with the Masses offered that day.
9. HOMESCHOOLER? TUNE IN! Visit our webcast site on schooldays at 11:20 AM for High Mass and a short sermon geared towards children.
10. BECOME AN SGG “VIRTUAL” PARISHIONER! Sign up as a “virtual” member of St. Gertrude the Great. Support regularly us as you would your own parish. (You can do this here.) Stay in touch with us. Read the Sunday Bulletin online. If you live in the U.S. we will try to send a priest to you, if at all possible, at least from time to time. We may also know of other good priests in your area, or be able to help you find one.
What do I do if I have no Mass? Do something. Do everything you can! God asks no more, nor is He ever outdone in generosity. May the Sacred Heart reign as King of Love in your home!

[Source: http://www.fathercekada.com/2014/07/31/what-to-do-if-you-have-no-mass/]

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