Like many other coronavirus stay-at-home order Catholics I have turned to watching Mass on YouTube while there are no Masses offered in my town. While certainly not ideal, I suspect that I will continue these video Masses when I cannot get to a weekday Mass after this ordeal is over.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that as a working person the options for attending daily Mass continue to become more limited. Part of this is the priest shortage, but demographics play a role, also. If a parish must cut a Mass from its schedule, it is usually the very early weekday Mass that goes, which is often the only possibility for working people to attend Mass. So many daily Mass goers are retirees that it makes little difference if the only Mass offered on a weekday is later in the morning. Masses before 7 am, which allow workers to get to work at 8 am, are a dying breed.
As a result of fewer weekday Masses and these Masses at later times, it is great to have an option to participate in Mass when it’s not possible to make it in person. It is also reassuring to see Mass with Pope Francis offered almost every morning on Shalom World. Seeing so much of Pope Francis makes me feel like I know him better and have a better connection to his ministry.
Beyond the obvious disadvantage of having to do a spiritual communion instead of receiving the Eucharist in person, I have found some other drawbacks to video Mass. First, it is harder to stay engaged. I have to follow along closely with a missal or I lose track of what is going on. Second, the younger kids do not pay attention to it because it does not make for kid-friendly programming and it’s easy to run off and find some toys. Third, Mass in person is a social experience that cannot be duplicated by video and you miss out on human contact.
Overall, YouTube Mass is much better than no Mass or even just reading the daily readings. I cannot wait for this pandemic to end and get back to normal, in-person, Mass, I suspect that YouTube Mass will have a place in my spiritual life going forward when daily Mass is not possible.