Technology and the Mass

I was thinking about the different ways technology can be fruitfully applied to the celebration of the Mass. I am a huge believer in using all five senses when it comes to worship. Some parishes are already doing some of the following.

Soft, appropriate, pre-recorded music would play before and after Mass unless of course live music was available. I think this might help the talking problem in some churches.

I would have several very large flat-screen video panels that would display the stations of the cross and the saint of the day. In addition to original artwork the monitors could be used to display images of stations from famous churches around the world. A video window could be added to give historical information about the image and/or to explain the specific station. When the Mass procession began, the images would be electronically “veiled” so the focus would be upon the altar and no where else. The color of the “veils” could follow the liturgical seasons.

The entire church would be fairly well lit but the nave would slowly become less bright during the procession. The sanctuary would remain fairly bright with the ambo area being lit the brightest during the readings.

During the Liturgy of the Eucharist the lighting level in the sanctuary would be dimmed to match the nave except for the altar area which would be softly spotlighted. Anyone thinking this would be “disruptive” has never been to a well managed performing arts venue.

The church’s bells would ring remotely before and after Mass and possibly during the Gloria. One of the bells would be tolled remotely during the epiclesis and major elevations as allowed by the Mass rubrics.

During the Great Amen the entire church would be softly be re-lit to show joy and to make things safe for communion.

I suspect I might use very discreet video panels to display lyrics, the readings and prayers as well. This would take a lot of thought and diligence because far too many churches do this poorly and it can detract from the Mass. It would be nice not to need hymnals/missalettes anymore.

The tabernacle would be designed to focus people’s attention to it unlike any other tabernacle I have seen. It might be made of opaque bulletproof glass and lit from the inside (much like Old Mission Santa Barbara’s Tabernacle) or it might be conventionally lit with theatrical lighting to make it look awesome.

No question that it would have to be done right or not at all. Sometimes it’s nice to dream… :thumbsup:

I never thought of mass as a multimedia experience focused on the worshiper.

Nor have I. :rolleyes:

Everything I mentioned would do nothing more than focus peoples’ attention on the Mass and enhance their experience.

Can`t we keep runaway technology out of anything? :eek:

**Were bombarded day and night by man-make light and (electronic) noise.** Lets do the exact opposite: chuck out the Powerpoints, video screens, piped “music”, etc.

For some of us, this technology-besotted world has become far too alien!

Adding more bells would distract from the three bells that ring to bring your attention to the high point of the mass. Adding lights dimming and coming back up would also encourage people to stop paying attention as much, as they would know they can simply daydream until the lights come up etc. If someone is fully participating all the extra’s simply aren’t needed at all. If not, they can slump in their seats, waiting for others to stand and remind them. Then they can perk up for communion and run out the back door while everyone else goes back to pray and wait for the blessing/recession.

As for the theatrical look to the tabernacle, I think that would almost make it a ‘mockery’. We want it to be solemn and dignified. We need to focus more on catechesis to teach people what the tabernacle is and why it’s so important, that their eyes will be fixed on it not because of how awesome the electronic display is but how powerful the spiritual one is! It’s already filled with more power than a paltry, and dare I say cheesy, lightning display flashing around it will ever be able to represent.

Nothing I mentioned was “runaway technology.”

Why? I didn’t mention “Powerpoints” by the way.


Naw. Many, many churches ring bells before Mass. Mine has for over 200 years. We ring them after Mass on special feasts too. In any event sanctus bells are not rung to "bring your attention to the high point of the mass.

So you say. You only have your opinion, no proof. I don’t agree. I have been to many performing arts venues and some of the things they did would be beautiful at the Mass.
I’m curious – when you talk about “extras” does that include the bric-a-brac so beloved by some that stuck all over the walls in some older churches?

As you’re already aware we don’t agree. I will admit that I am amused by those who feel all churches should be in the form of a bowling lane and that nothing can be improved upon… :rolleyes:

I have to admit, your suggestions creeped me out at first. But as I thought about it, it’s really no different than the medieval artists and artisans decorating and enhancing the altar, churches, vestments, chalices, etc. They used their medium to try to bring glory to God, and this millenium wants to use theirs.

But it still creeps me out… ;):smiley:

The more I think about it, these ideas and many others would be absolutely gorgeous if executed correctly.

For the “we don’t need the extras”, I’m curious – are you against papal Masses with all the pomp? Or are the “extras” ok in that case?

Please, do not use Vocaloid music as a substitute for any liturgical music. I doubt that using Hatsune Miku would make the liturgical music better.

It’s very interesting that you judge my entire being based on the fact I don’t like the idea of the extra technology. I think there are many ways that churches can be improved on, and I think that there are many beautiful churches that are in many different forms. I think though that the liturgy in and of itself is so beautiful it doesn’t need a display of fake lightning around a tabernacle to make it ‘better.’ Just as I don’t think adding flashing lights to the outside of a monstrance would make Adoration more appealing.

I like modern churches, I like gothic ones, I like Cathedrals, and I like the small round ones. :shrug: I just think the idea of modifying a tabernacle to make it ‘flashy’ is tacky at best.

I’m not sure why it would creep you out. I suspect though that many have never been to a first class performing arts center in a large city where they viewed a program that made professional use of lighting changes, etc. Plus the knee-jerk reaction by many is if it wasn’t around in 1955 it necessarily has to be bad.

If executed professionally it would be awesome.

That’s not true. I based my comments you on a number of things. You apparent abject ignorance on the historic use of bells in the Church before, during and after Mass. You odd comments about the lighting without any proof, etc.

Go visit the Old Mission Parish in Santa Barbara California sometime. Its tabernacle is pretty much what I described and it’s gorgeous and centering. :thumbsup:

My first reaction, “Dear Lord, please spare me!”

Theatre is what I do for fun and relaxation. I do lighting and sound. The last thing I want at Mass is theatrics.

I also want enought light so that nobody has to struggle to see what’s in their missal. Readings in the dark at the Easter Vigil (something which is not in the rubrics) may be feel-good theatre but it does nothing for those who need to follow the readings to get something out of them.

When I visit my daughter and go to their parish church the screen is a major distraction. As for your question ‘where did I mention Power Point’, that’s what we think of when we think of the lyrics of hymns projected for everyone to read. I’m not a luddite but give me a hymnal, not a screen. And give me quiet dignity with the Stations in place, a few statues and not sensory overload. Smartboards have their place in the classroom, please keep them out of the nave.

“Pre-recorded music” is not Vocaloid music.

I have no problem with before or after mass. I don’t think it needs to be during the Gloria. The Gloria doesn’t need extra bling, it should already be powerful and beautiful on it’s own. It’s the Gloria!

If I ever get to Santa Barbara I will indeed try to check it out, thanks for the tip.

I know that. It’s just that some would want Hatsune Miku to sing at mass.

No need for a missal. What I described would be beautiful.

Sounds like things are very poorly executed in your daughter’s parish. That’s unfortunate. It’s rather sad if you can’t imagine the stations I described being both elegant and very spiritual, not to mention educational.

Some people simply lack the life experience to realize just how beautiful things can be. They equate proposals to the bad examples they have already experienced. Quite sad.

If we follow the rules of the Church, pre-recorded music is not allowed. That rule has never been rescinded.

The Gloria gets “extra bling” at the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday Masses. I love bells. I would incorporate them anywhere I could in a church.

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