Sunday Mass on Facebook Is Milan’s New Normal as Virus Spreads

It’s a Sunday unlike any other for my family. Our four children woke up later than usual and my wife Emanuela and I didn’t urge them to rush for breakfast, wash their hands and get dressed because we’re late for Mass.

What’s different today is that, due to the coronavirus, we can’t attend services at San Carlo’s church in Bresso, north of Milan. That might be a blessing under a leaden, drizzly sky.

The spread of thecoronavirus, and the resulting Covid-19 disease, forced local authorities to suspend public events, including religious ones. But life goes on in Italy’s spiritual realm, thanks to technology.

The local priests in Bresso set up a live stream on Facebook, reaching an online audience of almost 100 families, including ours.

It was cool joining the digital event with our town’s priests — all dozen of them! — to celebrate Mass led by Decanus Don Angelo Zorloni. TV networks in Italy have been broadcasting Mass live for decades. But it’s completely different joining your local ministers on social media, with the option of giving a like or even a “love” during the live event.

My kids took this Facebook Mass seriously. We watched the liturgy while they ate breakfast thanks to Emanuela’s iPad in the center of our kitchen table. The quality of streaming was good as was the audio. While we were sampling a tasty apple pie, the priest was reading the story of the devil’s temptation of Christ in the desert from the Gospel of St. Matthew. And it was pretty spontaneous for us to recite the “Our Father” holding hands while Don Angelo was doing the same on Facebook.

“Hey Daddy, look at Don Bruno and Don Gianfranco on the altar!” my four-year old Cecilia said, pointing at the tablet. It’s not exactly like attending a real Mass, but it’s a nice alternative and, most of all, better then nothing.

And with timing that could almost be described as divine, Father Angelo said, “The Mass is ended, go in peace” just a few seconds before our iPad ran out of power.

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