With more and more Masses being televised and live streamed, some priests and bishops may need reminding that we, the faithful, are watching from the pews if not from our screens. Bored looks and distracting behaviors may seem invisible in big events, but cameras highlight them.
Last week, I was reminded of this when I tuned in to the live webcast of the ordination of the three new bishops in Los Angeles. I did not get a ticket to the event so I watched from my computer at Family Theater Productions. I was struck by the facial expressions and the body language of some of the clergy.
If you have been to an ordination (whether it is a deacon, priest or bishop) you may recall the beautiful part in the middle of the ceremony called the Litany of the Saints. The soon-to-be ordained lay prostrate on the ground facing the altar and the people all kneel. It is powerful to watch fully grown men laying face down in the Church at the foot of the altar. During this time, the choir chants a series of saints’ name: e.g. “St. Joseph” and the people respond “Pray for us”. The community in heaven and on earth together give their prayers together for the soon-to-be ordained and all the people their ministry will affect.
As I looked at the bishops and priests, in the live stream broadcast last week, I was saddened to see how many of the bishops and priests looked bored, uncomfortable, tired and distracted. Now, I am not saying that they were, but just how they looked.
With the new technology of broadcasting Mass on the internet, we get to see everything more closely than even in person. I have a feeling that these priests and bishops would have sat up a little straighter and been much more cognizant of their posture and body language if they could see what I was seeing on camera. For many people watching on-line, this might be their first experience of Mass this is and we ought to take advantage of the evangelical moment.
I admire the priests in my life and encourage them all to be aware of what their non-verbal language in the sanctuary communicates. After all, the presider at Mass acts as a model for the laity. Whether it be singing, praying, or listening, the presider is your first cue at how to reverently and joyfully celebrate the Mass-our greatest prayer to God and God’s greatest gift to us.
Thank you to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for live webcasting the ordination of our 3 new bishops. Please Fathers, mind the camera and the people, who with the saints in heaven, the congregation in the pews and the people on-line who will be watching.