“Before Easter, when the news came out that I was to celebrate Easter in an empty Saint Peter’s, a Bishop wrote me — a good Bishop, good, and he reproached me. “But how come, Saint Peter’s is so big, why don’t you put at least 30 persons there, so that people are seen? There won’t be a danger . . . “I thought: “But what does he have in his head to say this to me?” At that moment, I didn’t understand. However, as he is a good Bishop, very close to the people, he must want to say something to me. When I meet him, I’ll ask him. Then I understood. He was saying to me: “Be careful not to virtualize the Church, to virtualize the Sacraments, to virtualize the People of God. The Church, the Sacraments, the People of God are concrete. It’s true that at this moment we must have this familiarity with the Lord in this way, but <we must come out of the tunnel, not stay there. And this is the familiarity of the Apostles: not gnostic, not virtualized, not egotistical for each one of them, but a concrete familiarity in the people — familiarity with the Lord in daily life, familiarity with the Lord in the Sacraments, in the midst of the People of God. They undertook a path of maturity in familiarity with the Lord: let us also learn to do it. They understood from the first moment that this familiarity was different from that which they imagined, and they arrived at this. They knew it was the Lord, they shared everything: the community, the Sacraments, the Lord, peace and celebration.”
My thought: The problem is not undisciplined permissiveness but the lack of reality. You could have a disciplined use of virtual reality, but it is still virtual. It is not real. It is not “there“. It is not ontologically there receiving the dynamic of existence by God’s creative act.(See – St. Thomas’s Esse: “act of all acts, perfection of all perfections” (Summa Theologiae 1, 3, 1 ad 4. [from memory – I am without the Summa here or any others Vital works). It’s a question of God and Creation. Virtual reality is all about us and our abstractive and idealized world even though it “shows reality.”
I mean: is red in the dress or is it in me perceiving red dress?. When I read Bishop Berkeley and his “solipsism,” I concluded that the reason I think things are there is not because I experience them there but because I experience myself – my “I” – perceiving them there. I don’ t experience them there. The only experience I have is my “I” acting in pereiving, and I experience my “I” as real because I am acting.
I think the only answer to the Cartesian “Cogito” is the experience the acting person has of self, and the act of all my acts is faith which is the only act in which I involve my whole self to go out of self.
but Notice that the only time we have an experience of the real is when we make the gift of self and transcend ourselves as gift in the act of faith. That is, the reality we experience is our “I” who receives the sensible impression of the thing “out there.”The only way I experience the world by sensation as real is when I experience myself sensing (something ourside of me). That is, the only “being” I experience is myself in the act of transcending myself. The operative word is “experience” and experience always means the “I.” Therefore, if there is no conversion from self to other, I am alone in my world perceiving others “out there.” What is at stake here is the reality of God and self. The rest is gnosticism. If you read me right, you read me as fully realist P.s. I refer you to “Subjectivity and the Irreducible in the Human Person” here in the blog Fr. Bob
P.s. Let me offer Pope Francis’ remarks on the criticism he received from a bishop about celebrating Holy Week without people in St. Peter’s: (I repeat) from previous post