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Matthew 18:20 (NET):

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

There is so much technology now.

Does the Catholic Church have a view on whether or not it has to be a literal physical gathering of two or more?

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1 Answer 1

The Catechism of the Catholic Church lays down some precepts:

2042 The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.”) requires the faithful to participate in the Eucharistic celebration when the Christian community gathers together on the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord.82

82 Canons 1246–1248

Note the use of the words participate, community, gather together. The use of this language precludes the solitary “participation” of viewing from afar. That’s not gathering in community.

Pope Francis mentions this in Evangelii Gaudium:

87. Today, when the networks and means of human communication have made unprecedented advances, we sense the challenge of finding and sharing a “mystique” of living together, of mingling and encounter, of embracing and supporting one another ... To go out of ourselves and to join others is healthy for us. To be self-enclosed is to taste the bitter poison of immanence, and humanity will be worse for every selfish choice we make.

To answer the inevitable supplementary question, “What about two or three people gathered around a screen?”, it is only necessary to say that they are not participating in what they are watching. It is still a vicarious experience.

This precept doesn’t mean that attending a church service, having to stand outside and watching what is happening inside is not participating, particularly when those inside involve those outside, for example by administering communion to them. That’s participation because there is community; a gathering together; mingling and encounter; embracing and mutual support.

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