Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Blasphemy and Drones in Sorocaba

 

Welcome to the 21st century, where we have drones and people are only beginning to explore their potential applications.

So it was that the São Geraldo Magela church in Sorocaba, Brazil recently used a drone to deliver a monstrance to a priest. The drone flies in, and with a little assistance, makes it to the priest, who places it on the altar. For what it’s worth, the crowd loved it, as you can see from the video:

Since this video has made the rounds, it’s caused a stir, with one blogger at the Catholic Herald calling it “sacrilegious silliness.”

Now, despite being an atheist, I do have an extremely conservative sense of aesthetics, and am extremely conservative when it comes to Catholicism. So I can understand why people would get worked up about this.

That being said, I can see how doing this could be justified, and I don’t know as if it’s particularly blasphemous or anything. It’s certainly novel, but novel isn’t always bad. And old institutions have ways to make compromises with modernity.

So what does everyone think of this? Is there room for drones in church services? Or is this just gimmicky nonsense? And does that make it bad? And is using a drone like this to carry a monstrance sacrilegious?

There are 48 comments.

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  1. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    I think that I understand what they were going for here. They just should have had it better scripted / tested.

    • #1
    • April 5, 2018, at 8:36 PM PDT
    • Like
  2. Fred Cole Member
    Fred Cole

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    I think that I understand what they were going for here. They just should have had it better scripted / tested.

    Yeah, the execution was a little shaky there. 

    • #2
    • April 5, 2018, at 8:47 PM PDT
    • Like
  3. Henry Racette Contributor

    Churches do a lot of things to try to make traditional services more modern and attractive to a younger, more digital audience. It’s something with which church communities have to wrestle, the question of which changes to embrace, how much of the world to invite into the church.

    I’m emotionally conservative, and I tend to prefer the old ways. So this looks like a silly, gimmicky stunt to me, something I wouldn’t want to see in my own church (if I had a church). But congregations vary quite a lot, and I’m sure there are some where this kind of thing plays well. And, if I’m being fair, I guess it’s no more outrageous than a lot of what churches have embraced — probably including things I took for granted during the Catholic liberalization of the sixties and seventies.

    • #3
    • April 5, 2018, at 8:57 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. The Reticulator Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I’m emotionally conservative, and I tend to prefer the old ways. So this looks like a silly, gimmicky stunt to me, something I wouldn’t want to see in my own church (if I had a church). But congregations vary quite a lot, and I’m sure there are some where this kind of thing plays well.

    It’s interesting. Whether it’s good for a parish’s worship and life together would depend on the parish, the priest, and the situation. I’m not sure what the point was, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one. (There is a point for carrying the Eucharist elements to the altar in the hands of of a couple of the worshipers, as is done in our church, but there’s no rule that says it has to be done that way, and some people would find that icky, too.) 

    It seems gimmicky, and I tend to prefer church things that are more formal and dignified, partly because that’s what I grew up with, but I try to make adjustments when I encounter new ways of doing things. And there is plenty of precedent for applause and whistles, too.

    I don’t know what case would be made for calling it blasphemous. I don’t think it’s blasphemous on the order of Bill Clinton climbing into a church pulpit and proclaiming his crime bill to be the will of God. 

    If it catches on it wouldn’t be the first time that a religion adopted a technology and then called it holy. It has been done with the technology of writing, for example. 

    I don’t think my little DJI Spark would be able to do that work.

    • #4
    • April 5, 2018, at 9:34 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. Mike Rapkoch Moderator

    A Sacrilege? Let me count the ways. The Monstrance carries the body and blood of Christ. As we say at Mass “This is the Lamb of God Who Takes away the sins of the world.” The Host isn’t a symbol–it is, literally, the Lord Himself. His body, His blood, his Soul, and His divinity. He is properly brought forth by His people. To engage in such a stunt is to trivialize Him, to mock His crucifixion, to reduce Him to a techno-gimmick. The Host is the Holy of Holies. The people in this little escapade weren’t focusing their eyes, minds, hearts and wills on the Crucified Lord, but on a toy. Call me a stick in the mud, but I hope this priest”s bishop has a long and impatient talk with him.

    By the way, if the Host touches thew ground there is a strict protocol for its recovery and disposition. One wonders whether, had the drone crashed, people would have been concerned more for the drone than for the Host.

    God save us from the trivialities that have captured us.

    • #5
    • April 6, 2018, at 1:34 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  6. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Interesting questions. My take is that having a drone deliver the monstrance is not in and of itself disrespectful; eventually drones will deliver all manner of things in all kinds of settings. 

    It is the forcing of the new onto the old that is disrespectful – and worse, it produces that kind of cringe feeling teenagers get when their moms try to use slang. 

    • #6
    • April 6, 2018, at 1:37 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Churches do a lot of things to try to make traditional services more modern and attractive to a younger, more digital audience. It’s something with which church communities have to wrestle, the question of which changes to embrace, how much of the world to invite into the church.

    I’m emotionally conservative, and I tend to prefer the old ways. So this looks like a silly, gimmicky stunt to me, something I wouldn’t want to see in my own church (if I had a church). But congregations vary quite a lot, and I’m sure there are some where this kind of thing plays well. And, if I’m being fair, I guess it’s no more outrageous than a lot of what churches have embraced — probably including things I took for granted during the Catholic liberalization of the sixties and seventies.

    TBA (View Comment):

    Interesting questions. My take is that having a drone deliver the monstrance is not in and of itself disrespectful; eventually drones will deliver all manner of things in all kinds of settings.

    It is the forcing of the new onto the old that is disrespectful – and worse, it produces that kind of cringe feeling teenagers get when their moms try to use slang.

    Yes and Yes

    • #7
    • April 6, 2018, at 3:08 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Scott Wilmot Member

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    A Sacrilege? Let me count the ways. The Monstrance carries the body and blood of Christ. As we say at Mass “This is the Lamb of God Who Takes away the sins of the world.” The Host isn’t a symbol–it is, literally, the Lord Himself. His body, His blood, his Soul, and His divinity. He is properly brought forth by His people. To engage in such a stunt is to trivialize Him, to mock His crucifixion, to reduce Him to a techno-gimmick. The Host is the Holy of Holies. The people in this little escapade weren’t focusing their eyes, minds, hearts and wills on the Crucified Lord, but on a toy. Call me a stick in the mud, but I hope this priest”s bishop has a long and impatient talk with him.

    By the way, if the Host touches thew ground there is a strict protocol for its recovery and disposition. One wonders whether, had the drone crashed, people would have been concerned more for the drone than for the Host.

    God save us from the trivialities that have captured us.

    Agree 100%. Very well said Mike.

    • #8
    • April 6, 2018, at 4:24 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Profile Photo Member

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    A Sacrilege? Let me count the ways. The Monstrance carries the body and blood of Christ. As we say at Mass “This is the Lamb of God Who Takes away the sins of the world.” The Host isn’t a symbol–it is, literally, the Lord Himself. His body, His blood, his Soul, and His divinity. He is properly brought forth by His people. To engage in such a stunt is to trivialize Him, to mock His crucifixion, to reduce Him to a techno-gimmick. The Host is the Holy of Holies. The people in this little escapade weren’t focusing their eyes, minds, hearts and wills on the Crucified Lord, but on a toy. Call me a stick in the mud, but I hope this priest”s bishop has a long and impatient talk with him.

    By the way, if the Host touches thew ground there is a strict protocol for its recovery and disposition. One wonders whether, had the drone crashed, people would have been concerned more for the drone than for the Host.

    God save us from the trivialities that have captured us.

    And beyond that, the purpose of the monstrance is to display the Lord for adoration. There is no reverence here – it’s a party, a happening, an event. When I read the OP I thought the priest was having the monstrance brought to the altar where he would insert the Host, and that seemed gimmicky and unnecessary to me. But to fly it in like this? Sacrilege seems like the right word.

    From Wiki: Sacrilege is the violation or injurious treatment of a sacred object or person. This can take the form of irreverence to sacred persons, places, and things.

    • #9
    • April 6, 2018, at 4:37 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  10. Paul Erickson Inactive

    My first thought was, better this drone than the drone we usually have in church (“to talk in a persistently dull or monotonous tone.”) But on further reflection, I agree with @mikerapkoch.

     

    • #10
    • April 6, 2018, at 5:00 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Yeah, wow, talk about irreverent! That’s pretty appalling. What Mike said.

    • #11
    • April 6, 2018, at 5:15 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. I Walton Member

    Oh come on, everyone was dressed, even the women, and there was no samba.

    • #12
    • April 6, 2018, at 5:24 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  13. Fred Cole Member
    Fred Cole

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    To engage in such a stunt is to trivialize Him, to mock His crucifixion, to reduce Him to a techno-gimmick. The Host is the Holy of Holies. The people in this little escapade weren’t focusing their eyes, minds, hearts and wills on the Crucified Lord, but on a toy.

    Okay, so, is there a way this could have been done, using a drone to carry the monstrance, that could have been done correctly? That could have shown the appropriate reverence for the occasion, but still incorporated this new element?

     

    • #13
    • April 6, 2018, at 6:10 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    To engage in such a stunt is to trivialize Him, to mock His crucifixion, to reduce Him to a techno-gimmick. The Host is the Holy of Holies. The people in this little escapade weren’t focusing their eyes, minds, hearts and wills on the Crucified Lord, but on a toy.

    Okay, so, is there a way this could have been done, using a drone to carry the monstrance, that could have been done correctly? That could have shown the appropriate reverence for the occasion, but still incorporated this new element?

    No.

    • #14
    • April 6, 2018, at 6:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Profile Photo Member

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    To engage in such a stunt is to trivialize Him, to mock His crucifixion, to reduce Him to a techno-gimmick. The Host is the Holy of Holies. The people in this little escapade weren’t focusing their eyes, minds, hearts and wills on the Crucified Lord, but on a toy.

    Okay, so, is there a way this could have been done, using a drone to carry the monstrance, that could have been done correctly? That could have shown the appropriate reverence for the occasion, but still incorporated this new element?

    No. Not in this place and time. Could there be a situation in which a drone could be used to carry a monstrance with due reverence? I’m skeptical, but perhaps after the use of drones has become so commonplace as to be unremarkable, so that the drone doesn’t replace Jesus as the center of attention? I could see in an outdoor venue with crowds it might have a use, but not until drones have become unremarkable.

    • #15
    • April 6, 2018, at 7:12 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. Bishop Wash Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    Interesting questions. My take is that having a drone deliver the monstrance is not in and of itself disrespectful; eventually drones will deliver all manner of things in all kinds of settings.

    It is the forcing of the new onto the old that is disrespectful – and worse, it produces that kind of cringe feeling teenagers get when their moms try to use slang.

     

    • #16
    • April 6, 2018, at 8:05 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Umbra Fractus Coolidge
    Umbra Fractus Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I think this is silly in multiple senses of the word. Not only in the “ridiculous and frivolous” sense, but also in the “Why should I care about this?” sense.

    • #17
    • April 6, 2018, at 10:09 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Hypatia Inactive

    People used to say, “If God had intended man to fly, He woulda given us wings!” Let’s see, what was it you said on my thread…? Oh yeah: that isn’t any truer now than it was then.

    • #18
    • April 6, 2018, at 10:09 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gives new meaning to “The priest droned on needlessly.”

    It’s supposed to be about humanity not technology, eternal truths instead of passing fancies.

    • #19
    • April 6, 2018, at 10:09 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Who do those Brazilians think they are? Argentineans?

    • #20
    • April 6, 2018, at 10:38 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Hypatia Inactive

    This is great! Imagine the possibilities for religious pageantry: Elijah being fed by the ravens! Noah’s dove! The Dove descending at Jesus’ baptism. No, I think this is an “ingenious lovely thing” that will “seem sheer miracle to the multitude” (pace  Yeats)! 

    • #21
    • April 6, 2018, at 10:40 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Gives new meaning to “The priest droned on needlessly.”

    It’s supposed to be about humanity not technology, eternal truths instead of passing fancies.

    I would only amend this to say the faith is about persons. First the Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity, then the human persons who are God’s creatures, and the properly ordered relationship between them.

    When the Eucharist is carried in the monstrance, it is processed by a priest or bishop, who, while giving a benediction, wears the humeral veil which covers his hands. This is to signify the sacredness of the consecrated host (the Real Presence of Christ) and to indicate that it is Christ who blesses, not the priest/bishop. The procession of the Eucharist is about the beauty and dignity of the persons (Person) involved, not the latest mode of delivery. This priest should know better.

    • #22
    • April 6, 2018, at 10:48 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  23. Joshua Bissey Coolidge

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    To engage in such a stunt is to trivialize Him, to mock His crucifixion, to reduce Him to a techno-gimmick. The Host is the Holy of Holies. The people in this little escapade weren’t focusing their eyes, minds, hearts and wills on the Crucified Lord, but on a toy.

    Okay, so, is there a way this could have been done, using a drone to carry the monstrance, that could have been done correctly? That could have shown the appropriate reverence for the occasion, but still incorporated this new element?

    If there were some practical reason to use a drone – like some bizarre situation in which the priest is on the other side of a chasm from his congregation. But that’s not what happened here. So it’s clearly just done for the novelty of it. Which, I guess, is why people do a lot of silly, pop-culturey things in churches. It’s supposed to get the young people interested, or something like that. I don’t think that’s working very well. I think decades of experience has shown that making church fun and modern, just to make it fun and modern, only makes it less meaningful.

    Though I don’t believe Christ intended us to believe He’s physically in the bread or wine, as Catholics do, it’s still a solemn occasion. It’s about how He suffered and died for us. Is that really the proper context for playing with a toy helicopter?

    • #23
    • April 6, 2018, at 10:52 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  24. Michael Farrow Inactive

    I wonder if they hear confessions by iPhone?

     

    • #24
    • April 6, 2018, at 10:53 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    To engage in such a stunt is to trivialize Him, to mock His crucifixion, to reduce Him to a techno-gimmick. The Host is the Holy of Holies. The people in this little escapade weren’t focusing their eyes, minds, hearts and wills on the Crucified Lord, but on a toy.

    Okay, so, is there a way this could have been done, using a drone to carry the monstrance, that could have been done correctly? That could have shown the appropriate reverence for the occasion, but still incorporated this new element?

    Returning to Mike’s explanation, imagine that the drone was carrying the body of your beloved father during his funeral. Could that be made reverent? 

    Perhaps a day will come when drones are so reliable that one needn’t worry about failure (any more than one might worry that a funeral casket carrier might unexpectedly falter). Perhaps a day will come when drones or robots are so normal that they do not distract. That day is nowhere in sight. 

    If such a day comes, we can return to questions of reverence.

    Catholic rituals involve much symbolism. One might imagine a semblance of flight by invisible hands being integrated into worship somehow, akin to burning candles representing prayers lifted to heaven (a symbolism shared by many pagans) and the light of Christ.

    But a wonderful aspect of “catholic” (meaning “universal”) worship is that the Mass is essentially the same throughout the world. I could join a Mass in Japan or India and understand not a word, yet recognize each part as a particular prayer or ritual and participate fully in worship with my foreign Christian family. When some Catholics regret that Latin is employed less in modern worship, it is in longing for just such regularity from church to church.

    • #25
    • April 6, 2018, at 10:57 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Mike Rapkoch (View Comment):

    A Sacrilege? Let me count the ways. The Monstrance carries the body and blood of Christ. As we say at Mass “This is the Lamb of God Who Takes away the sins of the world.” The Host isn’t a symbol–it is, literally, the Lord Himself. His body, His blood, his Soul, and His divinity. He is properly brought forth by His people. To engage in such a stunt is to trivialize Him, to mock His crucifixion, to reduce Him to a techno-gimmick. The Host is the Holy of Holies. The people in this little escapade weren’t focusing their eyes, minds, hearts and wills on the Crucified Lord, but on a toy. Call me a stick in the mud, but I hope this priest”s bishop has a long and impatient talk with him.

    By the way, if the Host touches thew ground there is a strict protocol for its recovery and disposition. One wonders whether, had the drone crashed, people would have been concerned more for the drone than for the Host.

    God save us from the trivialities that have captured us.

    Ecclesia supplet…Pace, Mike….What about the “excesses” of public devotion during “‘Pasos”? Technology put to God’s use – even though I (and others) might not do it – Yay! Maybe his bishop okayed it We need to look at the logs in our own eyes, methinks… 

    • #26
    • April 6, 2018, at 11:18 AM PDT
    • Like
  27. Matt Upton Coolidge

    I’ll admit that coming from an non-denominational evangelical church, I’m not concerned about a whole lot of liturgy or ceremony. If there is a biblically defined means of fulfilling a religious ceremony, then absolutely carry it out. If not, then don’t set your hair on fire when another congregation does it differently. Devotion is more personal, and the core mission and function of the church can be performed with or without accumulated traditions. 

    However, I begrudgingly admit the value of tradition in the sense of tying together generations in a common faith. I think it’s a mistake to abandon hymns entirely to only sing contemporary Christian music. It’s worth keeping those things, because they were good hymns and they have been sung by generations of Christians. Add new songs to the rotation because they are good, not because they are new. Novelty, by definition, is fleeting. When I want to be a part of the Christian community, “fleeting” is not an appealing characteristic.

    If the drone could be used to enhance the experience or allow more people to participate in the ritual, then maybe there is a case for its use. If the reason is “hey look, we used a drone”, then it is a distraction which undermines the purpose of the ritual. 

    • #27
    • April 6, 2018, at 11:29 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  28. Nanda Panjandrum Inactive

    Michael Farrow (View Comment):

    I wonder if they hear confessions by iPhone?

    I’ve asked, @michaelfarrow, but it’s not about conveying verbal content as much as proximity/contact…There *is* an app for preparing for Confession, btw…

    • #28
    • April 6, 2018, at 11:34 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    TheSockMonkey (View Comment):
    I think decades of experience has shown that making church fun and modern, just to make it fun and modern, only makes it less meaningful.

    Totes agree. Catholicism has gone downhill since they lost the Latin liturgy. Related: ‘guitar choir?’ Jesus wept!

    • #29
    • April 6, 2018, at 12:19 PM PDT
    • Like
  30. Stina Member

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    This is great! Imagine the possibilities for religious pageantry: Elijah being fed by the ravens! Noah’s dove! The Dove descending at Jesus’ baptism. No, I think this is an “ingenious lovely thing” that will “seem sheer miracle to the multitude” (pace Yeats)!

    For skits and pageants, this is an excellent idea… We are already doing away with a certain amount of reverence in incorporating children into pageantry (something I’m 100% on board with).

    The worship service isn’t the place, though…

    • #30
    • April 6, 2018, at 12:59 PM PDT
    • 1 like

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