KOCHI: When the feeling to connect with God gets intense within him, Joseph Varghese walks into the room, switches on his computer, logs on to a particular site and lights a candle with a click. There, he offers his prayers, does penance and seeks blessings.
The interactive web service www.kreupasanammarianshrine.com of Alappuzha Diocese retreat centre is fast getting popular among the faithful in the state and beyond, with more than 80,000 having offered ‘Light a Candle Prayer’ so far. “The website allows me to connect with the sanctuary and offer prayers,” said Joseph.
It could be seen as a new trend where faithful migrate from chapel to computer — making it convenient especially for those who are too isolated or fragile to attend a real-world church.
The website says “It’s first time in the world we’re getting a very easy method to obtain grace and bliss of Jesus and Holy Mary through this unique covenant prayer. When you light the candle, immediately we download your prayer request and transfer it to our strong and powerful prayer mediation group, where it will be mediated throughout this month, especially in each and every Kreupasanam holy mass, adoration, fasting prayer, thousand beads of rosary and retreats.”
But whether such a worship done via computer or a mobile phone offers true spiritual fulfilment is something that is being debated. Priests who promote such ventures feel interactive websites and digital platforms are as meaningful as face-to-face spiritual gatherings.
“A lot of people are worshipping through the portal,” said a brother associated with Kreupasanam.
A few senior priests prefer church to virtual environments.
“You can consider online worship an option if you’re looking for convenience. But nothing can match the mass-prayer experience inside a church,” said Fr John Mannarathara, a senior priest.
Complementing existing methods
Kerala Catholics Bishop’s Council secretary Fr Varghese Vallikkatt said the internet tools being used for offering prayers can only complement the existing prayer methods inside a church