Viewing mass online doesn't show people receiving communion

With public attendance to mass in our diocese not allowed right now we are viewing mass online as several parishes offer it during this difficult time. I’ve noticed that nobody except the celebrant is shown on camera receiving communion. There are a few folks who do attend who are deemed necessary but they aren’t shown on camera receiving and the camera is typically focused on the alter or turned in another direction. I’m just curious if anyone knows why? Not a really important question I realize but if someone happens to know I appreciate your time.

Due to Covid, communion may not be being distributed to the congregation (ie it may be the celebrant alone who is actually receiving). That may be one reason.

I saw a Mass on tv on Easter which had apparently been recorded early, pre Covid-19 church closures in my part of the world, and actually had an announcement before the screening to this effect.


I watch the word on fire Mass, and I believe the only person that has to receive communion, is the celebrant.


I know people are receiving because the music director is a friend at my own parish. She is considered essential. I want to be clear that I’m not complaining, just curious.

Thank you for your replies.

In my church where I watch mass only the priest celebrating mass receives. Even the priest assisting with a reading is not allowed to con celebrate and doesn’t receive. So in our churches in our country it wouldn’t happen due to the law at the moment.

As to your question, I’d expect it would be as a courtesy to those watching as it’s not pleasant to watch people receive when you can’t. I watched mass at the Vatican for Easter and the few people there obviously must have received but the camera was turned away during that time. It’s just a polite thing to do since it’s a source of such grief for so many. My opinion anyway.


You’d have to ask the priest celebrant of that mass/parish.

Because in our parish my husband and I are the tech crew for live streaming and we are receiving Communion along with the organist and cantor, and it can be seen on camera.

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I wonder if it’s because some people consider it to be a private moment with the Lord? Like when friars pull up their hoods of their habits right after they receive? (At least I think that’s why they put on their hoods then).

I have seen a few Masses earlier in the COVID shutdown where people were shown on camera receiving. However, after about the first week, the camera stopped showing them. I know at one church a handful of laypeople are still receiving because I can hear the “Body of Christs” and the “Amens” over the priest’s mic when he steps away from the altar but the camera stays focused on the altar.

I am guessing that it’s for two reasons: 1) maintaining privacy of those laypeople who may be allowed to attend for some reason, and 2) to reduce the possibility of someone complaining to the bishop that Father So-and-so gave Holy Communion to three laypeople on livestream and how come the complainer doesn’t get to receive, or doesn’t get to attend Mass, or the whole thing shouldn’t be allowed, etc.

I know that a few priests were allowing a tiny number of lay people to attend Mass if it was being said for their intention, like their relative, and in other cases the music ministers, people running the livestream camera, other parish staff, and/or other person the priest might allow to be there, are receiving.

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I watched Mass from the military parish where my friend is the Padre and the first couple of times the two deacons and the cantor/tech person & musician received. Then at the Easter Vigil the two deacons did but the musicians didn’t.

At our diocese’s live-streamed Mass nobody but the Bishop receives. I think it may be an “all can’t receive so no one receives” type of thing. Or maybe they receive after Mass once the cameras are off.

Also let’s say that the musicians or tech crew can receive since they are there. Let’s say though, that Joe the organist doesn’t think that he should receive, because he needs to go to confession, or he didn’t observe the fast or something.
If they don’t show the communicants then Jane Nosy won’t be thinking “now why didn’t Joe receive?”
Also it might just be a tech issue, if the camera operator is receiving, then he or she can’t film and receive at the same time.

Oh, you have that right! Masses over the Triduum, Fr tried to make them special with an organist, small vocal ensemble, even one altar server. The Deacon’s wife was in the pews. The complaints began as comments DURING the Facebook livestream! Oye, that was fun.


I’m sorry that happened to you.
Many of the Sunday and Easter Masses I have seen have had musicians, cantors, and lectors - somewhere between 2 and 6 people I’d say. I know the idea is to try to put on a “nice” Mass that resembles one we would normally have on the given day, and for the most part they succeed, so that hasn’t bothered me, whether or not those people receive Communion (sometimes yes and sometimes no).

There is one church located in the heart of the urban area most hit by COVID in these parts that has seemed to have people receiving who were not playing any role in the Mass, i.e. not lectors, cantors, musicians, or altar servers, and I was grumpy over that for a day although I didn’t complain in the social media comments or write to the bishop.

In the end I decided to just take it as a lesson in humility and offer it up, because the reality is that even if they would have welcomed me at that Mass, I wasn’t going to be driving a long distance into an area with 10 times more COVID than my local area to attend it, and for all I know maybe those people really needed the special grace of that Eucharist. It was not easy to keep from feeling resentful about it though. I always have to fight the feeling that the parishes act like “every parishioner is special, but some are more special than others.”


I would say the most likely reason (mind you, just a guess) is that whoever is operating the camera is (a) engaged in the communion procession themselves and therefore can’t refocus the shot elsewhere, (b) figures no one cares. We’re often taught that we should be minding our own business at this time in the Mass and not paying attention to others (but focused on Jesus), so they’re probably thinking it makes little sense to show anyone.

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I’ve watched Mass from different parishes and those that are new to this all have had a fixed camera. The perspective never varies and the only close-up I’ve seen is when Fr. moved closer to the camera to hold up the material he was using during his homily to the kids. The Communion I’ve seen had the people come to the sanctuary so Fr. wouldn’t have to leave the shot.

It may be different for places where live-streaming is a way of life, but even the Abbey that live-streams Mass and the LOTH daily seemed to have a fixed camera when I watched on Sunday.

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I’ve seen a couple of different ways this has been done. In some cases, as you say, the camera is fixed; in one case, I’ve seen an active camera person moving it around quite a bit; in another, they must’ve had a fixed camera with a couple of programmed zoom settings - it smoothly pans and focus on set places the same way every time.

I too noticed this in my diocese. The Communion is distributed a a couple of laity off camera. I think there are two reasons for it. The first is practical, the camera does not pan out or move to the area in front of the altar. The second is a public relations move, if people saw a couple of lay people recieving because they were operating the camera or assisting with music then people may become upset. I know I was when I found out the person operating the camera was receiving communion more times a week in this lock down then ever before in his life. While the other laity cannot.

I think it’s just an issue with social distancing. There is no way to maintain a six foot distance when distributing communion. Last Sunday whoever was operating the camera held a piece of paper over the section of the camera that would have displayed Father as he distributed communion. The other side of the view was left unblocked so it was obvious they wanted to conceal the actual person receiving. After the recipient received you could clearly see them walking away.

Interesting. I think it is because a select few laity are receiving and they don’t want to start a ruckus. But honestly, it isn’t fair. The laity can either receive or not.

That’s how we handle Communion with live-streams at my parish. Only those on the altar receive during the Mass - priest and deacon. The camera people and musicians receive afterward; since they’re not on-camera for the rest of Mass, it would be disruptive to pull them in (and add several dead minutes to the live-stream).

Personally, I think it also helps sidestep issues with parishioners who don’t have one of the very few skill sets needed to produce a live-streamed Mass. Envy is a common sin. It’s better to avoid exciting it where possible.

I think if those of us who can’t receive as often as we’re accustomed focused a little less on what other people get to do: 1. more of us would get to receive because Bishops would be doing less knee-jerking in response to complaints, and 2. we’d have less to confess when we can go back to the sacraments.

I’ve never been so grateful to be a musician. Normally a daily Mass-goer, now I get to go one day a week. Though bereft of my Lord the other six days, I’m glad others can receive him. More Christ in my brother is good for me, too. Plus, to envy the cameramen is to tell the Jesus I love that I would rather he didn’t have access to the ones he loves. I don’t want to do that.

I think the issue is the actual rule. In our diocese the laity were to not have access to the sacraments of Eucharist and confession. At our parish in particular the “camera man” has no skills above the average person and then took it upon himself to brag on social media about how good it feels to receive when others cannot.
The point is the Church and Her sacraments should not be a refuge for the privileged over the poor. And a prohibition of communion for the laity should be fair and equal.

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