Live-streamed Mass

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: In a live-streamed Mass, can we go along like normal and then have a live person from their living room read the First Reading. The same for the Prayers of the faithful. Asking for a friend. 

My sense is no but because someone told me “well, we haven’t been told no” they are live videoing in a reader or splicing in a taped reading. Tech minds want to know. 


A: The Mass being live-streamed needs to be a complete, integral Mass. The priest cannot pause the Mass at certain points, like, say the first reading, announce, “OK, everyone at home, you take it from here,” then observe silence in the church for the time it takes for people at home to do a reading and a psalm, and then resume with the gospel. He needs to preside over a complete Mass in real space and real time.

What people are doing at home is not, I’m sorry to say, participating at Mass. They are watching a Mass. They may be having a beautiful spiritual experience, but they are not participating at Mass in the way we understand their responsibility as a member of the faithful. Under these conditions of pandemic, it is the best that many people can do. But they should not confuse their virtual experience with reality.

In the hybrid you describe, if someone wants to read the readings out loud at home, fine. But that does not make the virtual part of this experience a Mass in which they are fully, consciously, actively participating. It’s still a virtual experience.


Q: What we are getting pressure to do is to get to the first reading and like a CNN reporter cut away to an at home live shot of someone proclaiming the word and then going to another live shot of some one proclaiming the Psalm etc. and then returning to the chapel live shot of a priest reading the Gospel continuing with Mass. 

Asking for a friend.


A: In a word, No.

The Mass needs to be completely and integrally live. 

Even pre-recorded music is not allowed at Mass. From paragraph 141 of my book, Let Us Pray: “The music of the liturgy needs “living, acting people entering into communion with mystery” (Notitiae 3 [1967] 3–4).”

If it’s true of music, it’s true of the Word of God.