Thursday, November 15, 2007

Virtual Sacraments

A few months ago, the Vatican sent Jesuits to the online world of Second Life to serve as evangelists.

So, here's my question: let's say that one of these missionaries who has sacramental authority serves Holy Communion through his avatar to the avatar of another player within Second Life. In this event, has the player received an authentic sacrament?


Matt said...

No, because there is no Silicon Heaven!

"Where would all of the calculators go?"

The Ironic Catholic said...

Nah. Need real bread and wine. Heck, our Church gets funky about bread with honey in it. No way second life communion is going to fly!

Earl said...

I'll cut up and joke about a lot of things, but all foolishness aside, the answer is negative.

tom ream said...

This is a good question.

In a Nazi concentration camp Detrick Bonhoeffer presided at the table where there was no table, no bread, and no wine.

Was the presence of Christ any less for those who 'received' in that particular setting?


Jehovah Judah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jehovah Judah said...

Is trying to reach people for Christ even plausible through virtual worlds? Truly, the gamer world is a culture unto it's own with almost no gospel witness, but I doubt that anyone would seriously consider any spiritual messages while playing an online game.

the reverend mommy said...

I want to say "yes."

It just feels that it's the right answer and everyone else is saying "no."

It's more of the nature of reality. If done in truth and honesty, it is at the least sacramental.

Is prayer done over the phone "real" prayer? You aren't touching each other; just in the moment with each other. Is carrying the elements out from the body into a hospital "real"? How about elements that have been consecrated and mailed (the little sealed Chased Cup things) to someone in isolation for some reason?

I've had honest conversations with people in Second Life and other virtual world simulations -- it's my voice, it's my full person participating via my avatar. It's REAL communication. Even if the elements are not present per se, can not the interaction be sacramental in nature?

from wikipedia:
... "the sacraments, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, are efficacious signs of grace perceptible to the senses. Through them divine life is bestowed upon us." They assist individuals in their spiritual progress and growth in holiness. The sacraments contribute to the Church's growth in charity and in giving witness.

In second life, it's MY VOICE through a microphone and heard by the other person, just in the same manner as a phone conversation. Is this not perceptible to the senses? Can grace be given and received by just vocal communication?

It's actually a VERY good question, John.

the reverend mommy said...

Oh, yeah. Second Life is more about social networking than gaming. Many of the RPGs have evolved to be so -- my kids "know" so many people via Runescape that I was shocked.

Second Life just decided to leave off the gaming bits and go directly to social networking.

the reverend mommy said...

I do try to attend the Anglican Evensong and Lectionary study as well as the UCC Lectionary study on Mondays on SL.