Love it or hate it, the Metaverse appears to be our future. It’s conceivable that within the next decade you’ll have better luck meeting people in virtual coffee shops than in real ones.
This presents a challenge to the Church. Jesus commanded His apostles and their successors to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15).
Does that include the virtual world of the Metaverse? Should the Church prepare missionaries to evangelize there?
Will you be called to share the Gospel there?
Here are three things to keep in mind when considering these questions.
1. The Church has always adapted itself to different mediums to share the Gospel.
While many accuse the Church of being backward and out of touch, the Church has actually been very open to embracing new methods of evangelization. After the advent of radio, popes and bishops hit the airwaves. When television was born, the Church used it as a tool. Same with the Internet.
Of course, the Church doesn’t use means that are evil in and of themselves. The big debate now is whether the Metaverse is evil in itself, or simply evil when misused. There doesn’t seem to be a simple answer to that question.
2. Some people may be called to be Metaverse missionaries, but not everyone.
Once our culture fully embraces the Metaverse, it’s possible that a lot of Catholics are going to want to use it as a tool for evangelization.
But as with any vocation, not everyone will be called to do that, even if they want to. Just as not everyone is called to be a missionary to Rwanda, a parish priest, or a spouse and parent.
The only way you’ll know if you’re called to evangelize the Metaverse is by discussing it with God in prayer. You may also seek advice from a wise spiritual director. As with any vocation, the Metaverse will have dangers alongside opportunities.
3. The Metaverse should be a means, not an end.
Perhaps the greatest danger of the Metaverse is that people will live most of their lives there rather than in the real world. We already see this happening with social media. It will get worse in the Metaverse.
God calls us to communion with other people, including physical communion. That’s why virtual Masses do not fulfill your Sunday obligation; you have to actually be physically present at Mass for it to count.
While the Metaverse, when used properly, can be a means of communion with people, it should never be allowed to substitute physical communion. We risk losing out on so much by cutting off the real world and real people from our lives. The people in the Metaverse are not real people. They are only symbols of real people.
To conclude, we should look to Jesus to inspire our interactions with our fellow human beings. He remains physically with us in His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Let’s make sure the Metaverse never replaces our real presence with each other.