The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

Virtual Holy Communion?


One of the key challenges with online worship is how to incorporate the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is a physical experience from witnessing the act to receiving bread and wine.  But it is also a spiritual experience in that the key action is invisible, caused by God who acts within the liturgy.   So would it be possible to have a virtual communion, a virtual sacrament?

The Revd Professor Paul S. Fiddes, who is Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Oxford and Director of Research, Regent’s Park College, has just written a very interesting short paper called Sacraments in a Virtual World?

You can access a copy of the paper here. Your thoughts are welcome!


6 thoughts on “Virtual Holy Communion?

  1. hey! are we becoming spiritual now that we can even have eucharist in the ‘spirit’.
    we need to ask if God is pleased.

    • I am not sure that that is what has been said Saul. Notwithstanding that, you may or may not be familiar with the concept of “Spiritual Communion” and some of the views expressed by Aquinas? You may wish to look at that more.

      We always need to ask if God is pleased; I think that the Leadership Team has exercised very careful and prayerful discernment over this matter even if some ‘expressions’ in SL have already embraced virtual baptism or virtual eucharist. Please know that we take these things very seriously.

      • Blessed Lenten season Ableshepherd. Thanks for your comment and advice. I will catch up with Aquinas soon to remind myself of the augments. Still a paper outlining how the recipients of the sacrament feel is critical, I believe a survey can be done across the globe to get a wider view. Otherwise I am excited about this omnipresent of God in the virtual sacraments.

  2. This has had a fabulous discussion at Brownblog. My own contribution can be found here:

  3. In our online worship in i-church, this discussion often came up. Several of us came to the conclusion that our friendships across the world, friendships that found people staying up through the night if necessary to accompany someone through a difficult time, were in fact sacramental.

    I’m not entirely convinced that we need to mimic RL sacraments. We need to find a way forward that is authentic for the medium, or as Gareth suggests, find what God has already given us in the medium of SL.

  4. What I take most from Paul Fiddes’ helpful paper is the possibility for experiences in virtual worlds to be sacramental (small ‘s’ and not necessarily the dominical Sacraments). I am reminded of how Mark Howe from St Pixel’s ( speaks of how the communal typing of the Lord’s Prayer, often in many languages from all across the globe, has become almost a sacramental rite during their online services.

    I wonder what experiences could already be called ‘sacramental’ for us at the Cathedral or around Epiphany island?

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