Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Long as I got my online Jesus ...

Anybody out there been feeling their prayers aren't being answered lately? I have news: It turns out Jesus has been offline.

One of my favorite Internet oddities is the website of the Monks of Adoration, which offers the opportunity to sit in silent reverence via the Internet before an altar at the monks' monastery in Florida. (http://www.monksofadoration.org/chapel.html ) The monks have set up a webcam that sends a fresh picture every minute, 24 hours a day. There's a link to open the picture in a small window so you can keep it up on your screen while you work on something else. Another link down in the "Quick Picks" section of the rather cluttered web page lists the times when "the Blessed Sacrement is Exposed on the altar." (Yes, I know I'm being snarky, but I couldn't resist including the typo. The same page invites your prayers for more vocations, and I think I will pray that someone with editing and web design skills will hear the call.)

Silly as might seem, I have to admit that I am rather fond of this page. I am fascinated by the varieties of spiritual life in cyberspace. I think it's just amazing that you can sit down at your computer and pray along with a streaming Rosary, make an online retreat, go to a site to request prayers for a special intention, read the archived sermons of some great (and otherwise) preachers, jump into a discussion of the day's liturgical readings, or study long-distance toward a Bachelor of Divinity degree. I don't know if online religion is keeping pace with online sex, but at least it's in the running. I find it reassuring somehow to realize that no matter how advanced the technology we employ, we are still our same old human selves.

I like to drop in on the monks' chapel from time to time. In fairness, they do not want anyone to believe that they think they are projecting Jesus through the Internet to your computer. "Regarding the Webcam and adoration, just to clarify, it is not to replace visiting Jesus in church. It is for those times when you cannot visit Him in a church," they say. So you could think of the web page as a particularly vivid sort of 21st-century holy card.

On my most recent visit, when the altar stayed empty during the announced adoration period, I was honestly disappointed. Then I found the notice that the picture I was seeing "is a still capture of the chapel," taking the place of the live shot while the monks are moving to their new monastery.

I do hope they go live again sometime soon.


At 10:28 PM, Blogger Nancy said...

This is really something! I guess every thing that is, is now on the internet.
Be blessed...on-line and off.


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