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:

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