Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

November 2018 newsletter

Posted by universalis on 22 November 2018

The next great feast, only a few days away now, is the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This is glorious. It is also a little embarrassing for those of us discreet Christians who like to present ourselves to others as “just as normal as everyone else except we go to this funny place called ‘church’ on Sunday mornings.” But there is no getting away from it: each of us has been anointed with holy oil at baptism, as priest, prophet and king. The feast of Christ the King is thus a good moment to reflect on our kingship and on what “kinging” means and how to do it.

One point of entry is in Genesis, where Adam sits in state and God brings him all the animals for him to give them names. To give names to one’s subjects is the act of a king. The responsibility of a king is to care for his subjects, which is why we are obliged to act as custodians of creation: something no other creature is. How far that responsibility takes one can then be seen in the King of the Universe, who is simultaneously the ruler of all and the servant of all. He rules in triumph, and he rules from the Cross.

Perhaps a way into a meditation on all this would be to ask, “Over whom am I, personally, king?” and hence “Whom am I called to serve?”


Over the years we have added many new features to Universalis. None of them has ever provoked as much spontaneous appreciation as the recent addition of pictures to the About Today pages. I hope we have answered each of you individually, but I would also like to say to all of you collectively, “Thank you for the encouragement.” It really does make a difference.

The illustrations aren’t in the web pages or the e-books but they are in the latest versions of all the apps (for iPhone, iPad and Android) and programs (for Windows and the Mac). New updates of all these things are on the way and will, with any luck, arrive this weekend. They will top up the illustrations as far as the end of December.

The Amazon ‘ban’

This section of the newsletter described how Amazon had erroneously blocked the latest Liturgy of the Hours e-book for the UK and Ireland. At length this block has been removed, on 27 November 2018, and the e-book is available here if you need it.
This only applies to the hundreds of you who buy Kindle e-books, rather than the thousands of you on this mailing list, but we keep no files on you and have no way of knowing which of you are affected.

This is the time of year when those of you who have Kindle e-book readers and regularly buy e-books from Amazon’s Kindle Store have to buy new books for the new season. For the Mass readings, the new book covers the whole of 2019; for the Liturgy of the Hours, it covers the half-year from Advent to Pentecost. The catalogue is here.

This year, when we uploaded the new season’s e-books, Amazon made life more interesting by sending us the following email:

We are unable to publish your submission because the content is incoherent and/or repeats excessively.
Please note that continued submission of this type of content may result in your account being terminated.
If you have any questions, please email us at content-review@amazon.com.

The email address they quote is non-existent, and the message does not say which e-book is involved, but research (and complaints from customers) eventually revealed that the Kindle e-book of the Liturgy of the Hours for the UK and Ireland cannot be viewed or purchased by anyone.

You can read the full story of the Amazon ban here. You will see that Amazon are saying that the book is banned and threatening us with a total ban of all books; and also that it isn’t banned; and also that it was banned and now isn’t. They are saying that the book is available; and that it is not available; and that it was not available for technical reasons but now is, or at least will be soon (their ‘soon’ being, by now, well in the past). They are sending replies to our enquiries; but also sending messages telling us not to expect a reply for a week.

This is all very entertaining, but meanwhile those of you in the UK and Ireland who rely on this e-book are stuck with Advent getting closer and closer and no sign of the book you need. There are hundreds of you. If there is still no resolution in (say) a week’s time when Advent has almost upon us, you have two choices.

  • If you are really using a Kindle, a genuine, physical object that reads e-books and does nothing else, then you can use our web site to send yourself e-books directly as what Amazon call “personal documents”.
  • If you have been reading the Kindle e-books in a reader app rather than a real device, then you can get a genuine Universalis app or program instead. The layout is better and the whole thing is more flexible and easier to use.

Whichever route you take, there is a one-month free trial. Please have a look at our blog post, which tells you much more about both alternatives.

(In response to some correspondents, I should say that we do not think this is an example of hidden censorship, so don’t go charging off and making a noise about it! Amazon runs largely on automated systems and the likeliest explanation is a rogue algorithm which nobody quite knows how to override.)

How to update

Updates of the apps and programs are due this weekend. Updates are (or should be) automatic on Android and iOS, while on the Mac and Windows the Universalis program checks for updates from time to time and lets you know when one is available. In case any of this doesn’t happen, we have instructions for updating manually here.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.