Skip to comments.[Catholic Caucus] Is It as Good to Pray the Breviary from Electronic Devices as from Trad Books
Posted on 12/05/2018 8:50:26 AM PST by Salvation
It is hard to overestimate the convenience of praying the Liturgy of the Hours from an online breviary. Not only are they convenient but they also help to lessen the complexities that often go with setting up the traditional book. For example,
Setting the ribbons correctly can be a challenge, and the complexity of the rules during the Octave of Christmas is almost nightmarish.
The availability of these breviary apps has lessened the likelihood that we are without a way to pray the Liturgy of the Hours merely because we dont have our prayer book with us. Most of us today are rarely without our cell phone close at hand.
So, what could be the problem with using an electronic breviary? The problem is the loss of the sacred.
To say that something is sacred not only indicates that it is holy but that it has been set aside for a unique and special purpose. For example, the chalices used at Mass are not ordinary cups. They are set apart for only one special use: to contain the Precious Blood. It would be wrong to use them in the rectory for a dinner party. It would also be wrong to bring ordinary cups over from the rectory to use as chalices for the Precious Blood. Sacred things normally have but one use or are used only for things related to God and the worship of Him.
This also applies to sacred books and texts. In the liturgy it is expected that we normally read the prayers and readings directly from sacred books such as the Lectionary, the Book of Gospels, and the Missal; liturgists and bishops conferences have generally frowned upon using digital readers. For example, the bishops of New Zealand banned the use of iPads as Missals in the liturgy, explaining that because iPads and other electronic devices have a variety of uses, e.g., playing games, using the internet, watching videos, and checking email, the bishops have decided that This alone makes their use in the liturgy inappropriate [*].
Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has a similar view: Perhaps it is very practical to pray the breviary with my own mobile phone or tablet, but it is not worthy: it desacralizes prayer [**]. This is not a formal instruction from him in an official capacity, but his views should elicit thoughtful consideration even when it comes to the private recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Some may consider such objections fussy or puritanical, but I think they make some sense. A sacred text, as a general norm, deserves a sacred book where it is preserved and from which it is read.
General norms are not absolute norms, so there will be exceptions, even generous ones, given the pace and mobility of modern life and the seeming need to have many things at hand. Perhaps one is traveling or wants quick reference to the texts in order to pray on a busy day. Maybe the complexity of the Divine Office, which can serve as a barrier to the laity with less liturgical background, can be overcome with the use of a cell phone app to direct prayer.
Striving to protect the general norm of keeping sacred books and texts together accomplishes certain worthy goals. Let me mention just two.
First, it reinforces the idea of the sacred, which has been so eroded today.
To some degree, our sacred actions should look, feel, sound, and be sacred or set apart from ordinary things. For example, church buildings should look different, sound different, even smell different from the world around them. Their essential function should be as a place for the worship of God; they should not merely be assembly halls.
The liturgy itself should have a sacral character. In the past this was emphasized by the use of Latin, particular styles of music, and specific gestures and tones of voice. Much of this has been lost today and it is often a difficult or even controversial path to bring it back. Even if the vernacular and a wider variety of music have their place, the sacred otherness and set apart quality of the Church and the liturgy has severely diminished.
Praying the breviary out of sacred books is a small step in the right direction. This is certainly more important in public recitations of the breviary, but even in our private recitation there is value in keeping that sacred time an experience that is at least somewhat set apart from ordinary things.
Second, it reminds us that prayer should involve some sacrifice.
We live in times when people are unduly insistent that everything should be convenient, easy, and fastand often quick to become indignant when that is not the case.
There will be times when it is helpful to have immediate access to the breviary texts, but we ought not to forget that in biblical thinking, prayer and sacrifice are joined. The notion of prayer without sacrifice is a modern Western one. Biblical prayer involved offering a sacrifice of praise. Thanksgivings were made by way of sacrifices such as the offering of first fruits and libations of wine and oil.
Demands for worship that is convenient, quick, and with little cost are not usually indicative of a heart full of extravagant love (see Luke 7:44-47).
We do not want all forms of prayer and worship to become so burdensome or difficult that people avoid them, but certain small sacrifices such as using the sacred book even in private recitation of the breviary can be an act of love and a step back from the excessive insistence on convenience.
As I hold the breviary each day, I feel that I am holding Gods people in my hands as I pray for them and with the universal Church. I just dont get that feeling when I pray using my iPhone.
More could be said, but allow this to suffice. Please accept these thoughts as general norms or observations; they are not absolutes. There are exceptions we ought not to presume that anyone who does not follow this way of thinking is impious. Every now and again, though, we do well to consider the meanings of even small actions; it is part of living a reflective life.
Monsignor Pope Ping!
Is It as Good to Pray the Breviary from Electronic Devices as It Is from Traditional Books?
We pray the Breviary on Wed. at Mass and the Priest leads from the book, but most parishioners use the Ap. to participate.
Theres an app for iPad and iPhone named iMass that has the readings in Latin and English for the 1962 missal and also the old Office (breviary readings), also in Latin and English. It follows the old calendar, of course, which was changed by Vatican II.
I read the Hours of Lauds and Compline every day. I think the old structure was infinitely superior to the abbreviated current form. So this is an option for those who like the Traditional Rite.
Bibles weren't widely available basically until we had movable type. Did this innovation take away from the 'sacredness' of Bibles produced in Scriptoria across Europe?
EWTN broadcasts the Rosary every day...does following along at home take away form the 'sacredness' of finding like-minded people to do this in-person...or at all for that matter?
Indeed, many of us pray the Our Father from memory...but we learned it from 'sacred texts.' Should we NOT recite from memory?
I recall reading/hearing from a priest, that one needn't say the Rosary in one, uninterrupted sitting. Yes, that is preferable. But if it's a tossup between, not saying the Rosary and, say, completing 3 decades on your way to work and leaving the remaining 2 as well as the closing prayers for after work, go for the Rosary broken up during the day.
I would agree, if you have a sacred text and an iPad, stick to the book. But eschewing innovations that remain loyal to Our Lord is a wrong approach. I think that's what Msg Pope is advocating here (perhaps unintentionally...he DOES blog) and he is usually spot-on. This time, however, I believe his guidance is incorrect.
He's talking about attainable advantages of being (when possible) text-based rather than digitally-based.
I often pray with Kindle in hand, but for me a BIG advantage of a written, paper text is that I am not tempted by (for instance) Free Republic!
1) I can either read the Liturgy of the Hoursfrom my phone, or not do it at all ... carrying the book around is a practical impossibility. For me. YMMV.
2) Far from profaning the Liturgy, I believe that my Divine Office app, Bible app, etc. have the effect of “sanctifying” my phone.
I love Msgr Pope, however I don’t see it mattering at all what you use to display the words of the prayers. When I use paper, I use Magnificat. Admittedly its an abbreviated version of the morning, evening and night office, and of course includes the full the mass daily. However, it is ‘right there’ and well organized. I don’t spend time determining what trumps what from the calendar, the Psalter, the commons, that is all maddening for a layman. I can see clergy knowing the value of it. I purchased the paper breviary and still have it. I just don’t use it.
When I’m praying the actual full blown office I use iBreviary, Old style font with the auto scroll set to 5. By doing so I pray, not flip ribbons and wonder (disturbing my peace) if I’m doing it right.
Its very easy to isolate one application from distractions; pore over your notifications settings for everything and only allow notifications from apps that are absolutely necessary.
Blessed Advent to All...
Sincere prayer is always good regardless of what devices are utilized.
Ditto to everything you said. The Magnificat is perfect for a working man like me and makes the difference between having a prayerful prayer time, an anxiety-laden prayer time, or no prayer time at all. Besides, the magazine itself is beautiful to look at and hold in my hands (I use the leatherette slip-cover), and having a hard copy accommodates prayer cards and other prayers I want to say. In a clutch, I’ll use the electronic iBreviary app.
Magnificat is now an app (in addition to paper).
It seems to me that Catholics have always correctly understood prayer to be a “total body experience,” with postures and gestures and all.
But if the choice is pray with your “device” or not at all, the answer is clear.
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