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The On-Screen Eucharist: An Epistemic Theory of Sacramental Participation

Wednesday, May 26
12 – 1 p.m.

COVID-19 restrictions dramatically altered the landscape of Christian sacramental practice. Churches across the world boldly experimented with virtual liturgies, the number of livestreamed adorations multiplied, and many priests took to the phone (sometimes against the recommendation of Rome) to offer confession to the sick. While the intersection of information technology and sacramentality is not an altogether new phenomenon, the questions surrounding the legitimacy of virtual sacraments are now unavoidable.

An epistemic theory of sacramental participation can provide a powerful explanation of the confusing theological landscape. According to this theory, one participates in the sacraments in proportion with two quantities: one’s ardent desire and one’s justified belief in the occurrence of the sacramental miracle. If it holds, this theory justifies the Church’s preference for in-person Mass while preserving the ontological validity of spiritual communion and also rebutting the iconoclastic criticism most commonly leveled against such virtualized sacraments.

Duffy Fellow Philip Andrew Wines, FCRH ’22, will present and advance this theory. Drawing chiefly on the philosophy of perception alongside medieval and early modern discourses on miracles, he will dispute existing criticism of virtual sacraments and will field questions from the audience. Wines is a student of philosophy, theology, medieval history, and Spanish, and he is a 2020-2021 Duffy fellow.

This is a Duffy Fellows program event.


This event is open to alumni, faculty/staff, parents, students, and the public.