Fr. Panteleimon Manousakis, professor of Philosophy of the
Theological School of the Holy Cross of Boston, expresses
his concerns on this specific matter:
The pandemic confirms the hegemony of an infinitesimal virus,
while simultaneously highlighting a dramatic tone of
ecclesiastic life. Instead of turning the crisis into a
blessing, the Church has trapped Herself within the structures
of society, of the world, of technology, and showing Her weakness to
take initiatives for re-catechizing – a thing that now
constitutes the “big bet”.
The sin of our time tends to be
rooted in human consciences that
refuse any participation in pain, in common prayer, in the
community’s longing within the Church. The pandemic facilitated
human freedom and in turn, by bending to the distress caused by
this ordeal, the Church is now enjoying unbridled psycho-support
from any which source. Of
course, all the above have precluded the unconditional physical
presence, the touch, the material, the body.
haemorrhaging woman in the Bible have been healed without
touching the hem of Christ’s garment, by simply remaining indoors at home to demand salvation from Christ?
What about Thomas?
Why did he subject
himself to the temptation of physically testing Christ’s wounds,
when he could have discussed the truth about Christ’s Person
from a distance? Wasn’t
that also a matter of faith? And
one more thing: why did God have to be incarnated on Earth?
Wasn’t He able to save
Of course, the Divine Liturgy did not lose anything because of
such things. Man lost
the experience - the empirically certified fact of the
sacramental touch. Man
lost “the touch” – his physical participation in the realm of
Instead of leading the Church to a philosophizing attitude (to
re-evaluate the situation and re-catechize), the pandemic
managed to sink human existence into uncharted waters: the
faithful can no longer participate in the Divine Liturgy, in the
space where the Divine Eucharist is performed, offering their
freedom with the conceding act of revealed physical presence;
they now have the ability to worship God from their homes.
The home has become a
place of worship; man prays from home... I don’t know if man is
also hoping for “home delivery” of the Divine Eucharist for
those who are otherwise able-bodied....
Technology offers its services.
The Divine Liturgy as a unique event now enters
televised on screens, into a space where each viewer can capture
the miracle, without his presence in the event’s natural space
(the Temple) being a necessity.
It is an inconsolable phenomenon that nowadays, the
faithful have sealed the need for faith through television, and
have even become accustomed to this perception.
Another - similar and
not by chance - phenomenon is the habit of certain Christians to
confess over the phone, and without receiving the blessing of
forgiveness by the confessor-priest, proceed to arbitrarily
partake of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Technology has not been utilized as a “fishing tool” as Gregory
the Theologian would have said -nor were its positive elements
selected for the acquisition of virtue, as Saint Basil
would have advocated. Technology
instead came and overwhelmingly inspired the withdrawal of one’s
participation as an event of a physical presence, as an event of
communing, as a Synaxis (of gathering together) for the same
purpose, which is the Eucharist.
The Body and Blood can now be viewed - in the
most unashamed manner, (the Sacrament as an idea!) - on a TV
screen, instead of being offered – “live” - to psychosomatic
beings. It is certainly NOT a Eucharistic Synaxis, and the
Eucharist is being regarded in some kind of magical sense. There
is no longer any mystagogy whatsoever in such a case.
Do we finally need a
philosophized God, or a “savoured” God?
Regarding the broadcasting
of the Divine Liturgy, the Metropolitan of Pergamon,
Elder Ioannis Zizioulas, notes the following in a book of his:
'And let it not be said that it is done to serve the sick or the
what is being offered to the people of these categories, is not
at all the reality of the Liturgy (which presupposes the
physical presence and communing of the Church body), but instead a
visual image, that is, a “virtual reality”, a caricature of the
it is only offering a psychological satisfaction to people;
except that with it, the Church is altering the ontological
reality of Her identity, given that the Liturgy is a Synaxis
“for the same purpose” and the Church is a community...”
The Divine Eucharist is a gathering for
common thanksgiving. The Divine
Liturgy is not supposed to be watched; it has no need to be
watched by anyone - it is not a drama, a comedy, an opus that is
in need of watchers. The
faithful do not watch the priest and the cantors as if they are
the protagonists of an opus that has survived for
thousands of years. The
faithful participate. The
recited words that describe their place and their relationship
to the space and to the rites being performed are words
indicative of participatory action. The faithful participate
in the unfolding of the plan of the Divine
by regarding the other faithful as persons of a community - of a
whole – which includes partaking, participation, coexistence,
After all, the (Greek) term “liturgy” means “function-operation”
implying the work of a whole. The
faithful participate with the other faithful in the par
excellence Mystery and they become one with them, when receiving the
Body and Blood of Christ. This
event has no need of intermediaries, as it is the very thing
that presupposes the physical presence of bodies, of souls, of
everything that is human.
Fr. Panteleimon Manousakis, further comments:
"…It remains even more paradoxical, therefore, how
easily and quickly the institutions, the Church and Academia, had
hastened to embrace, implement and promote the same
tele-technological media and their voyeuristic principles -albeit formerly judgmentally– in the echoes of the current pandemic.
have replaced the hitherto required physical presence of the
faithful in the pews; the students are now in a classroom watching webcam
lessons, while the masses of the living can now relish the safety and
comfort of one's bedroom.
there (Dasein) and being present is no longer necessary –
whether it be for faith or for knowledge. One thing is
certain: that no-one abandons a necessary thing that quickly.
This swift transition from the physical to the virtual cannot
but be the herald of ophthalmic hegemony. The command "DO NOT
TOUCH" is easily applicable, when there is nothing that one can