Virtual “mass”, conducted by Polish users of the Roblox platform, gained publicity not only among players. Internet “services” evoke extreme emotions. Fr. Rafał Główczyński, known as “the priest from the estate”, criticized the idea in a recording published on the Internet, noting that “the words of consecration are God’s greatest gift.”
Roblox is one of the most recognizable online game development platforms. A new trend among Polish, often very young users, meanwhile, virtual “holy masses” have becomebased on Catholic worship. Recordings recorded by players during such “mass” created in Roblox appeared on social media. They show how in computer-created interiors – reminiscent of churches, virtual characters – reminiscent of priests and believers – imitate participation in a service. Each of the characters participating in such a “mass” is controlled by a different, real player.
“Many priests in their childhood played at celebrating the Holy Mass.”
Virtual “mass” arouse extreme emotions and are widely commented on in social media. Clergymen also referred to the phenomenon. Fr. Sebastian Picur, followed on TikTok by over 600,000. people, praised the players for their knowledge of the liturgy, stating in a recording published on TikTok that “many priests played in celebrating the holy mass as children.”
At the same time, Fr. Picur noted that “it should be remembered that the Eucharist is the greatest holiness of the Church and great prudence is needed here so that such a virtual form is not aimed at trivializing, ridiculing or disregarding the sacred liturgy”, and the virtual service “does not replace the real mass in the temple”.
“Priest from the estate”: “It’s a bit like sleeping with someone else’s girlfriend”
In strong words, the virtual “mass” was assessed by Fr. Rafał Główczyński, functioning in social media as “Priest from the estate”. He expressed his objection in a Facebook entry and a video published on YouTube, referring to the statement of Ida Nowakowska from “Questions for Breakfast”, who expressed concern about online “mass”.
“I think it’s a bit like sleeping with someone’s girlfriend and saying it’s nothing because I was just acting out what you do with her,” the priest said. – The Holy Mass is too holy to be turned into a computer game. The words of consecration are God’s greatest gift. After them, the bread becomes the Body and the wine the Blood of Christ. Saying the words of consecration in the game he called “total overkill”.
The “priest from the estate” emphasized that children’s “playing the mass” cannot be compared with the game, because “there is a difference between doing something in a room and doing it on cameras on the Internet in front of tens of thousands of people”. He also mentioned the positive aspect of the game: “I think that the guys from the virtual Archdiocese of Gniezno (one of the communities organizing virtual masses – ed.) do a lot of great things, gather masses for praying the rosary, litanies, Jasna Góra appeal, and that’s great, and I support them with my prayers but Mass shouldn’t be there,” he wrote.
What is Roblox?
Established in 2006, the platform quickly gained popularity during the pandemic COVID-19. According to Bloomberg TV, in 2020, 2/3 of all American children aged 9 to 12 used the platform. Roblox allows its users to freely create virtual spaces and objects from elements resembling blocks, and then take part in games and events created in this way. The platform has its numerous fans also in Poland, who in the past became famous for, among others, organization of virtual “sessions of the Sejm”.
Roblox gives a huge space for users’ creativity, which has also caused controversy in the past. The freedom to create a variety of content on a platform dedicated to children has led to a situation where content inappropriate for minors is also created on it. In 2022, the BBC reported, for example, that during one of the sessions on the platform, a naked man was observed among the virtual characters, who had a collar around his neck and was led across the floor by a woman in a bondage outfit.
It was also reported that the game is to create spaces where players can talk about sex and where their avatars can have virtual sex. This is despite the fact that such behavior is against the rules of the platform. “We know there is an extremely small group of users who intentionally try to break the rules,” a Roblox spokesperson said.
The activities of the participants of the Roblox metaverse were also commented on the BBC by Dr. Liraz Margalit, a digital psychologist who studies online behavior. As she assessed, the behavior of players in Roblox can be assessed in the same way as the behavior of all other Internet users. – You have anonymity and you have an inhibition effect. This platform gives you a playground where you can do anything you want to do, she explained.