Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monday Musings

A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

OK... I know... it's actually Tuesday. But, like I said before, I'm not on here as frequently during Lent. So, I blog when I can blog... even if it's a day late.

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Well it seems that many at our parish are still having problems with one of the new Mass responses: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof..." And what I mean is that there is almost silence in the church when we get to that response. No one seems to want to speak up. Other responses are sometimes clumsy sounding as people struggle to get the words right. And other times people nail it, without any slip-ups. But this one is still causing trouble. It's almost enough to make me wonder if some people in the congregation are protesting the new changes by their silence. On the other hand, they do put out an effort on the other responses. So why the quiet, blank stares when we get to this part of the Mass? Hopefully, this too shall pass...
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Speaking of the new translation... I still have not received my new missal. It has been on back order for several months. Apparently this is a problem everywhere, not just the vendor I ordered from. The publisher keeps pushing back the release date.

So in the meantime, I have a question: Smart phones, tablets, and e-readers have apps available which contain the entire missal and can be used right now (as opposed to whenever the printed books become available). Is the use of these electronic devices appropriate for Mass?

I am torn on this issue. I have a tablet, and I have downloaded the iMissal app, and it works beautifully. I almost prefer it to a paper missal for ease of use. I highly recommend this app. But I see both the pros and the cons of using such devices at Mass. I'm just not sure what to do. Will other parishioners be distracted by such a device? Is it OK to use a device at Mass when the same device is used for secular purposes? But then again, isn't it good that we bring new technology into the Catholic sphere? Isn't that part of the new evangelization? An do we not also bring other things to Mass that are used for secular purposes? Our own bodies are used in the "real world" and yet we bring our selves to Mass and participate in worship. So why not use a smart phone or tablet? Can we really delineate so starkly between worldliness and religious? Does it matter that a smart phone can be used to place phone calls but also used to aide us in Mass?

Still not sure.


  1. Hi Thomas,
    I don’t think “devices” are objectively wrong, but I would not allow it if I were a Pastor. Too many beeps, buzzes and blips. Cell phones are bad enough.

    BTW, we put a small logo-link for your blog onto our blog. I assume you don’t mind. Let me know.

  2. Hey, thanks for the link! I do appreciate it! (I'll add your blog to my blog list as soon as I post this comment.)

    I understand your point about the noise distraction of electronic devices. But on the flip side... These gadgets usually have a "silent mode" which eliminates any sounds. I know of many people who bring cell phones to Mass who have them set to silent. The same can be done on a tablet or e-reader.

    Also the iMissal app doesn't have any sounds integrated into the app. So the risk of making too much noise is greatly reduced. Yet I do understand the concern that a pastor would have in opening the door to electronic devices. All it takes is one goofball who doesn't know how to keep his device quiet and the whole church has to hear beeps and bloops throughout Mass.

    (You see how I could go back and forth on this... I understand both sides and have sympathy for each. Still unsure what the answer is.)

  3. Tom,

    You know where I stand. I use my iMissal app on my silenced iPhone in mass. It comes out of my pocket when I sit down to listen to the readings and goes back into my pocket at the end of the Gospel reading. Until the bishops or my pastor says that I can't use it, I will continue. It is so much more convenient and less distracting than using a missalette (which is what most people do if they care to listen and read at the same time). I just don't see why it's a problem if your intent is pure. Good luck in your struggles! Peace!


  4. Jason,

    I am tending to agree with you more and more as I sort this out in my head. I think my biggest hang-up is personal rather than theological or pastoral. I tend to be self-conscious. It would just take a few times of me using a device like this at Mass for me to realize that nobody is staring at me or questioning my participation at Mass. Frankly, if I saw someone else using a phone or tablet at Mass, it would not bother me one bit. In fact, I would think it was cool. (And THAT should tell me something about my own use of electronic devices...if I can appreciate someone else using one, then I need to get over my own reservations.)

    You know, back in 2010 an Italian priest named Michele Bigi used an iPad to say Mass. As far as I know that is the first recorded instance of a priest using an e-device for liturgical purposes instead of printed text. Since then many other priests have followed. Usually they use such devices in remote settings (like missions or when traveling any great distance) - an iPad or tablet travels easier than the rather large books that are necessary for Mass. The Vatican has not spoken out against such devices used in this way. In fact, Pope Benedict has been open to the use of new media for sacred purposes (although I don't think he has spoken explicitly on the issue of electronic devices used at Mass). It all seems as though the trend toward using electronic devices at Mass is positive.

    (Did I just talk myself into this?)

    Maybe I'll give it a try. I am really loving this iMissal app. It makes me want to use it in a real Mass setting. I'll report back here if (when!!) I do use it at Mass.

    Thanks for the feedback.