web analytics

iPad @ Mass?

When the NZ RC Missal came out it was immediately obvious that the page turns would make for an irreverent Eucharistic Prayer on the part of the presider.

Fr John Murphy, who works in New Zealand’s Marist Internet Ministry wrote that people needed to move on from the poor quality of the English Missal’s translation to the NZ Missal’s layout issues:

Among them

  • page turns in awkward places
  • the capitalisation of the words of consecration, making them almost impossible to read, and
  • some of the text is so closely aligned to the gutter of the book, that standing in a normal upright position makes it also almost impossible to read e.g. the Prayer of the Gifts on the 4th Sunday of Lent.

Negotiating the new text is one thing, negotiating poor formatting is another.

If this were a normal book, I’d be tempted to return it.

After my Sunday experience, I chatted with other priests who like me have tried-out the new New Zealand Missal.

Alas, they reinforced my view; one going as far as saying his experience was “dreadful”, and another, “forget the words, the layout is all over the place.”

Fr John’s suggestion – if you are upgrading your iPad, dedicate your old one to liturgy. If you haven’t got an iPad – now is the time to buy one for the liturgy. Under the heading, “My new Roman Missal is an iPad”, his conclusion is that the Universalis App for the iPad is “fantastic”.

Father Paolo Padrini produced an app for the iPad and said,

If I went on vacation, I’d take along my iPad and celebrate Mass that way. Obviously in my parish, where I have the books, I’m not going to deliberately use an iPad.

As far as I can see, there is no liturgical rule saying a printed instrument must be used. The rules do say the liturgy should be dignified and fitting and should not be disturbed,” he said.

The liturgy should be beautiful. But personally, I’d rather celebrate Mass with an iPad, which is small and doesn’t disturb the faithful, than with an old, worn-out missal with yellow pages and small type.

iPad on the altarNow the NZ RC Bishops have put out a statement to all priests. You are not to use an iPad at Mass. They state that all faiths have sacred books and the Roman Missal is one of the sacred books of the Catholic Church. The iPad may not be used by priests at the liturgy. “Only the official printed copy of the Roman Missal may be used at Mass and at the Church’s other liturgies.”

This also forbids the use of an altar card, my own preferred way of having the words of the Eucharistic Prayer available on the altar, and the normal way for RCs to preside in the Extraordinary Form. (You can get an Ordinary Form Mass card here).

It is interesting that it is the NZ RC Bishops’ Conference that has put out such an injunction. Is this the first to do so in the world? Is it the only one? Does NZ have a church that is more technologically forward-looking in having clergy even thinking about this as an option? Or backward-looking in forbidding it? Or is the NZ Missal unique in the poor quality of its layout? Or do other Bishops’ Conferences allow for cards?…

If you are wanting to follow the Bishops’ ruling – it says nothing about using the iPad at the ambo… get your digital pulpit here. (Price £1,495.00 – that converts to far less than it used to!!!) Just as the gradine (a small shelf behind and above the altar when using it ad orientem) is used to hold things forbidden on the altar, so I’m inventing a shelf below the altar and between the presider and the altar for when presiding vers populum. Soon for sale on eBay, Trade Me, etc.

And if you bought an iPad specifically for liturgy – you could always learn to do stuff like this instead:

Similar Posts:

3 thoughts on “iPad @ Mass?”

  1. Yes it’s interesting that the Catholic Bishops came out with their statement after the opinion piece in CathNews.

    The bishops of course have the right to make the statement and priests I suppose should respect their decision.

    What I cannot however understand is the Bishops’ making the point about the importance of having sacred books, the importance of treasuring them, of them looking like special purpose books, and then going an publishing the cheap-looking spiral-bound disposable version with a plastic cover, like everyone has used for years.

    And this after forcing the big, sacred, but basically unusable missal on parishes and little religious house chapels up and down the country.

  2. Steve Benjamin

    Sacred books? The stories of pre-Vatican II Latin missals and breviaries being dumped are legendary and I’m certain the 1970 Altar Missals have gone or are going the same way.

    Our Jewish friends traditionally place Bibles and prayerbooks that are worse for wear in a geniza or storage loft in synagogues. It’s sad Christians don’t show the same respect for their texts as our liturgical fashions wax and wane.

    I used to follow the 1662 Holy Communion rite on a tablet from my pew. I stopped this practice as the thought crossed my mind that other worshippers might think I’m reading the newspaper instead of following the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper!

    I can safely predict tablet devices (and their more precious equivalents) will be the norm for worship in the near future for both celebrant and congregation, however the RC bishops in NZ may pontificate on the matter.

  3. Wow, I’m stuck within an “One the one hand – on the other” conundrum.

    On the one hand, I think the bishops are confusing “sacred texts” with “sacred books.” Books are essentially an ancient media form for holding texts, sacred and otherwise. Treating them as sacramentals risks violating the principle espoused in the next thread on this blog.

    (sigh) … on the other hand, we (all the churches, but in a serious way the RCC [at least in the USA]) have an issue with the “casualizing” of the sacred liturgy. It was not until I left the RCC for the Episcopal Church, and joined a parish that takes liturgy very seriously, that I came to realize the extend to which the liturgy was treated casually, and almost indifferently in my previous parish. So, I can see the merit in demanding that the elements of sacramental worship be taken seriously and given weight.

    That said, when I am a lector, I read from the very large Bible on our ambo. It makes me a bit crazy to see lectors casually (that word again) holding a copy of the Sunday service bulletin while they read.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.