Follow the adventures of Bosco Peters as he essays the brave new field of virtual sacraments:
Baptism, immersion into the Christian community, the body of Christ, and hence into the nature of God the Holy Trinity may have some internet equivalents – for example, being welcomed into a moderated group. But my own current position would be to shy away from, for example, having a virtual baptism of a second life avatar. Similarly, I would currently steer away from eucharist and other sacraments in the virtual world. Sacraments are outward and visible signs – the virtual world is still very much at the inner and invisible level.
I do not, however, agree with those who deprecate the experience of community that the web engenders. It appears to me that the internet can model an understanding of community that is beyond the physically present-and-visible precisely in a way that Christians have been verbalising for centuries. Christians can experience support and challenge online in a way not possible previously. The Carthusian model, of separate individuals (hermits) experiencing community whilst being physically separate, provides an understanding and a precedent for what many Christians are experiencing.
Prayerful support, the daily recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours (Daily Prayer), even lighting virtual candles are amongst the positive experiences available and whilst not sacraments, provide a framework and experience that complements and enhances the sacramental experience of the physically gathered Christian community.
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