Visual projector aids at Mass






Can’t stand projector screens.



I moved to the town in which I live a little over a year and a half ago. The parish church here was historic, but had to be rebuilt because it was no longer meeting fire codes or something along those lines. A large charge was built on the grounds and it has large screens to the sides of the sanctuary. It also has sort of a sloping floor which for better viewing from the pews.

I’ve been registered in a somewhat near parish for nearly 20 years, so was not interested in a change. But I have been there twice, one for a funeral and another time for a Christmas program. In my opinion, the screens are not really necesssary, even given the size of the church, due to the way the pews gradually descend. The screens are used for projecting lyrics, but also show the choir members or singer, the altar, and the congregation. The views change. I found it distracting and too modern, like being in a theater . When I have been asked by parishoners I know at my church if I have been there and how I liked it (it is known as the newest church building in the area), my usual response is it seems like a protestant church and I am uncomfortable there. (They also have the statues in places that are not visable and no stained glass windows, which actually makes the screens into more of a focal point.)

My parish church will soon be renovated and I just found out that we may have screens off to the sides. :frowning: I don’t know how true that is. Right now, when we have “overflow” the parish hall is used to accomodate and a very large projector screen shows the Mass there. One reason the church is being renovated we need more room. We used to have folding chairs in the foyer and lining the side aisles.



Personally, when I want to look at a video screen, I will watch TV, go see a movie, or surf the internet. Even when I don’t want to look at a video screen, they are everywhere. When I go out to eat, have a drink with friends or family, at the doctor’s or dentist office, at the gym, and - yikes - in a library, a video screen is there. When I go to church, the last thing I want to see is another video screen!



This is a good question that I’m not sure I have a satisfactory answer for.
Our music director says “there’s just something about having a missal in your hands”. So what is he expressing there?
The projector is a passive visual aid. One does not make a personal choice to pick it up and participate like one does with a missal. The visual output is simply fed to the worshiper.
The missal is held to one’s body, the projector is broadcast on the wall, above the level of the altar. If our physical actions have meaning, does this make a statement about how we perceive what is happening on the altar, and how our actions relate to what is happening on the altar? What occurs on the altar is the source, and summit, of our faith. Should a projection have a symbolic higher place than what is happening on the altar?
We currently have statues of St Joseph and Mary, one on each side of the Church. These will have to be taken down or moved to accommodate the projection.



I’m also interested in people’s take on this exchange:
“We need technology at Mass because it will putt more butts in the pews, especially young people, and that is the whole point of the having a parish. Change or die.”

(I happen to disagree with this thinking for a couple reasons, but it is a very hard objection to overcome)



This is the problem with video screens: They’re found everywhere for profane (e.g.: non-Church) purposes and reasons. Letting them bleed into the Liturgy of the Church causes a distraction, and makes the liturgy loose some of its mystery and special feeling.

This is the same reason why the priest says such odd things, and dresses so oddly in the Church: so remove the celebrant from profane influence. When a priest says Mass, not even his clerical collar is allowed to be visible, because even though this is a sign of a cleric, it is a profane sign, while the priest sets this aside to represent Jesus Christ, High Priest who is the sacrifice that he offers.



The counterargument would be, what does it say when we encourage parishioners to keep their noses buried in their missals rather than drawing their attention in the general direction of the altar, ambo, or lectern?



When I’ve been in churches with projector screens, I’ve always found them distracting and difficult to follow if I do pay attention to them. I also sometimes find myself watching the screen rather than the priest… sort of like when you are watching a movie in your language, but stick the subtitles on anyway. I always end up looking at the subtitles rather than just watching the movie.

The other thing is that my eye sight is not that great, even with corrective lenses. I need to have the book or hymnal right in my hands to see clearly. There is also something very active for me in holding the book in my hands. In addition, as someone reads music, I can’t stand just having the lyrics, whether on a piece of paper or on a screen. I want and need to see the actual composition.

In terms of aesthetics, I find that when the screens are in older church buildings, they are much more obtrusive and distracting. They stick out like sore thumbs. I was in one where they had the screens basically sitting on tops of the heads of the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph statues. They were just really garish-looking in a 150 year old church building. When they are in modern buildings, they tend to blend in better. I’m not a fan of most modern church architecture, so the whole building, itself, is usually distracting and cold to me, but easier to handle when you see the projector screens mixed int.



This is the problem with the printed word: It’s found everywhere for profane (e.g.: non-Church) purposes and reasons. Letting it bleed into the Liturgy of the Church causes a distraction, and makes the liturgy loose some of its mystery and special feeling. :slight_smile: :ehh:



I think the answer to that lies in the passive nature of a visual aid. A person chooses to participate with a missal, picks it up, opens it, holds God’s word close to them in his /her hands.

We have heard many times the phrase " I don’t go to Mass because I get nothing out of it". It seems the projection idea panders to this idea, rather than correcting it and asking for truly active participation. “Since you’re so accustomed to being entertained, let us do it at Mass as well, if it will keep you in the pew”. Participation in the Mass requires commitment to listen, to pick up a missal or hymnal, to participate.

Here’s another angle to this…the Mass is God meeting humanity in the sacrifice on the altar. People pray together, sing together, recognize one another, all those things that make us human, as Christ also had a human nature. A projection has none of that human connection that God calls us to make. It could be said that a missal has the same limitations as a projection, but I disagree for the reasons above.



Projectors are discreet and the screens can either be the wall or retractable. So you can satisfy everyone by using the projector for some Masses but not others.

Here’s another high-tech solution. Provide bulletins, paper missals, and hymnals at the door for whomever wants them. But also provide an app so people can use their smartphones or tablets. USCCB copyright protections make such an app very difficult or impossible though. This is off topic but that should be a huge scandal. It’s illegal to spread the Word of God and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!



As I mentioned in my post, one of the unintended consequences of using overheads is that most of the weekly work on the liturgy goes into creating the Powerpoint slideshows, and then running them at Mass. The people involved do not have time to support an alternative liturgy, and the priests probably don’t want to switch between the two modes.

Just repeating myself, using overheads commits the parish to a very high technical difficulty, which makes some liturgical ministers redundant (who can’t or won’t use the overheads) while adding a considerable workload to the others.

We have hymnals at the door also, but **nobody ** picks them up anymore, because the hymns will be on the slideshow, and may not be in the hymnal.

“Use it, or lose it.” (ie. hymnals, missals, etc…).



Yes, I can imagine how much more complicated it would be if the “weekly PowerPoint”–I shudder to type those words in relation to Mass–were created, then somebody were to be like, “Oh, but we’re changing that song now!” Never mind that the choir knows it and so can switch easily. Someone now has to access the “weekly PowerPoint” to change it. The lyrics may or may not be available, even.




Well, the whole point of having a parish should really be to have a community of believers who worship together and work together on ministries as well as possibily outreach to the community where the parish is located. Does your parish have a mission statement?

Technology is not a preventative tool to keep people from leaving, nor a tool to encourage people to come. People want to be in a church where they feel God, where they feel there are people involved in doing God’s work, and where they feel personally welcome and connected to each other. Where they feel the Spirit. And people have really tough life experiences at times and need to feel the support and care of being within a community of believers at Mass.

Using technology at Mass won’t make any difference if what is lacking is a vibrant celebration of Mass or a feeling of community. If parishoners are leaving and change is needed, then it is probably in attitude and reaching out.

I would suggest a parish survey to find out what parishioners think is needed, a rather open ended one, not just, “Would you like video screens?”. Something along the lines of, “How do you feel going to Mass at this parish?” Maybe multipule choice plus “other” write in. Inspired? Bored? Satisfied? Unfulfilled? Then, “What changes would you like to see?” "Do you feel welcome? " “Are the other members of the parish friendly?” Etc.

Get to the real reason people are not in the pews and make real changes. I doubt many people will say technology is what will make a difference for thrm.



You and many others on this thread are being too esoteric. You are ascribing too much power to a physical thing.

An overhead is just a great big ol’ book. It’s a physical device to help people read. That’s all. There is no spiritual significance to holding a book vs. looking at a screen vs. viewing a computer screen (iphone, ipad, laptop, etc.) vs. having it all memorized. People process information in different ways.

The ROOF of the church building has a “higher place” than the altar, yet you don’t question the roof. It’s there to keep the elements out, that’s all. In the same way, a projection screen is placed in a certain place for practical reasons. It has nothing to do with overpowering the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament on the altar.

For the one who said that they’ll view their projections in a theater instead of a church, I ask, “Will you also sit in chairs in that theater, and remain standing in the church?”

Frankly I think that use of paper (books, missals, missalettes, hymnals, handouts, etc.) and projectors will be completely out-of-date in the next few years, and more of us will be looking at our iphones to follow the Mass. I think that’s a good trend. I think it’s silly to be annoyed by modern innovations. That’s Cat’s prediction, and I hope I’m here in two years to see it come to pass! :slight_smile:

I’ve often wondered if the reason why so many bathrooms with toilets are in the basements of older Catholic church buildings is because someone decided that “going to the bathroom” is not appropriate for the same level as the Mass. So now all of us who have serious issues (for me, it’s knees) going up and down stairs are forced to go to the bathroom down the street at the local 7-11 after Mass instead of in the church building. :rolleyes: God created our kidneys and bladders, and He became a human being Himself, and He does not consider our physical world somehow “inappropriate” in His August Presence. In the same way, God created our physical senses, and if we are using devices that make it easier for our senses to process information, that is not inappropriate, especially if we are attempting to process information about Him and His Church.



Missalettes are barely used anymore, especially with the over-60 crowd who already know everything. :slight_smile:

And the cost and monthly charges of those iphones are prohibitive to many, especially to that same crowd, half of whom probably don’t even have an email address. Don’t forget a lot of those folks lost their jobs sometime in their life to “modern innovations” so I wouldn’t expect them to be looking for ways to embrace new gadgets. A pocket calculator is still their main computer.



I hope that you’re here in two years too! :slight_smile:

If (God willing) you are, then we will have the Battle of the Predictions

Edmundus’ prediction: There will still be many diocese’s and parish’s using overheads, however there will have been a reversal, with a number of diocese’s banning them for regular services, and only permitting them for special occasions and needs. Such dioceses and parishes will also be moving against other forms of electronic media in Mass, such as tablets. Paper missalettes and hymnals will still be in use, and will have been restored to some parishes where they were removed.



I’d suggest some caution on arguments to the future…

Quite a long time has passed since we have needed candles in church to provide enough light to see things. Electric lights have made candles obsolete. Yet, we still use them. We use them because they have a value beyond merely the utilitarian; and at the same time, we realize that electric lights simply do not adequately address the spiritual realities that we celebrate in the Church’s liturgy.

There is a very good reason why there is near universal disdain among Catholics for those “dreaded electric votive lights” wherever they appear, even though they’ve been around for 40 years now, and people have had more than adequate time to “just get over it and accept it.”

We still use candles in purely secular settings as well; because we realize that there are times when an electric version is “just not the same.” I will venture to guess that with St. Valentine’s day approaching, there will be quite a few couples having dinner by candlelight.

Would you advocate for a “pascal flashlight” instead of a pascal candle? I rather doubt it.

There is a value to the written word that goes beyond mere utility, and there is a value to liturgical books that goes beyond mere utility as well. There is a reason why the deacon incenses the book of the Gospels, and that reason is because the book itself has an inherent spiritual value and significance which simply does not attach to images projected on a wall, or the screens of devices.

The (literally) written word in an actual bound book conveys a sense of permanence, stability, and continuity that is completely contradicted by electronic images which are constantly changing, and which can be easily changed in a fraction of a second.

I think that the Church should indeed embrace new means of communication and new means of making sacred texts more available and accessible. By all means. I have nothing against it, and even use an e-book version of the Liturgy of the Hours for my own private use.

We should certainly embrace technology where it can be useful, but we need to be cautious about using it merely because it is available, without proper discernment.



My parish will have an instance of this problem next week! After Mass yesterday the organist mentioned that while she is not rostered on next week, she would like to play one piece as the recessional, namely our national anthem because it will be Australia Day. However, the slideshow has already been prepared, and after a quick discussion we decided that it would be too complicated to change it, and so she’ll have to play and rely on people’s memory. We discussed handing out sheets with the words.

The irony!

This is one situation where the projector could be really useful! If we were using missalettes and hymnals for regular Masses then it would be easy to project the words of our national anthem for just a special occasion! As I recall, this is how projectors were used in the past.

Oh, did I leave that out of my list of problems? Yes, that’s another complication and extra chore.


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