Electric Prayer

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

October 2019 newsletter

Posted by universalis on 11 October 2019

This month there is one major new feature in Universalis: the Spiritual Reading page.

A new page: Spiritual Reading

The Second Readings from the Office of Readings are, as we have said before, a rich and nourishing spiritual resource. They are also part of a rather long Hour which many people do not have time for. One could, technically, open the page and skip through until one got to the Second Reading, but that can feel disrespectful.

  • The new Spiritual Reading page gets over this problem. It is not an Hour. It is just readings, to be opened and closed, picked up and put down again, whenever you feel like it. The Spiritual Reading page contains the Second Reading and nothing else, and you can read it without feeling obliged to celebrate a whole extra Hour.

Moreover, there are more riches in the Second Readings than can be fitted into a single Office of Readings. Many days have options. Last Wednesday, for example, one could choose between Saint Denis, Saint John Leonardi, and the Wednesday of week 27 in Ordinary Time. All three of these had their own Second Readings: from St Ambrose on Psalm 118, from a letter to the Pope by St John Leonardi himself, and from a letter by St Ignatius of Antioch. All those readings have something to give, but nobody is going to read the Office of Readings three times to take advantage of all their benefits.

  • The Spiritual Reading page gives all the Second Readings that are appropriate for today, not just the one corresponding to the particular celebration you have chosen.

There is even more than that. There are some celebrations that you can’t choose even if you wanted to. For instance, last Wednesday was also the optional memorial of Blessed John Henry Newman, with a Second Reading taken from his works, but in England only. If you lived anywhere else, you would see a mention of him in “About Today” but his Second Reading was not available to you. The 3rd of October had a truly magnificent speech by Blessed William Howard, given from the scaffold before his execution, but you would have had no chance of seeing it unless you happened to live in the diocese of Arundel and Brighton.

  • The Spiritual Reading page gives all the Second Readings which could be celebrated today anywhere in the world, so that you have even more nourishment within easy reach.

That is what the Spiritual Reading page contains. It is a way of reviving yourself spiritually without the full commitment of an Hour, and it gives you access to riches it would be very hard to get hold of in any other way.

Try it.

The Second Reading page is in the Universalis programs and apps (it is not on the web site). You need the latest update (see below). If you have an app with a subscription to the spoken Hours, you can hear these readings as well as reading them.

All Saints: an idea

This is just the right time of year to make a suggestion which is not directly to do with Universalis, just with spiritual life and Catholic culture in general.

More and more each year, our children are immersed in the rituals associated with the novel secular feast of Hallowe’en. On the one hand it is good to see them have fun dressing up as ghouls and zombies and testing the limits of their courage by trick-or-treating. (It doesn’t cost much, either). On the other hand, it is frustrating that all that energy should be spent on something essentially vacuous.

Why not, then – the suggestion is – do something about All Saints?

One idea would be to have an All Saints’ party either on November 1 itself or on the weekend following, with children dressing up as their favourite saints. Judging by the children I have mentioned this idea to, choosing the saint would be at least half the fun (and, properly guided, educational as well). Or, if parents’ patience is worn out on the subject of dressing up, why not just design badges to be worn on the day? Not to say “I am gooder or holier than you” to one’s friends, just to establish the idea that one can celebrate saints as heroes.

Perhaps this has been tried before, and failed. Perhaps it is already successful and widespread. In either of these two cases, please just laugh charitably. But if the truth is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, why not think about giving it a try, even if it is just within the family?

iOS 13: technicalities

With Apple’s new version of iOS, some problems have occurred and we have had to make changes to allow for them.

  1. If you are blind, and using iOS 13, then VoiceOver, which reads the contents of apps out loud, does not work with version 3.24 of Universalis and Catholic Calendar. (Apple say that this is probably their own bug, not ours).
  2. We have found a way round this bug. Version 3.25 of Universalis is already in the App Store, and it works with VoiceOver. Version 3.25 of Catholic Calendar will, we expect, be available by the middle of next week.
  3. For sighted users, there is a price to pay. If you change between the daytime mode and the new “Dark Mode” in iOS, our apps will now not automatically follow that change. You will have to change between light and dark modes by hand within the app.

We hope you will be understanding about the fact that, given a choice between minor inconvenience for many people and catastrophe for a few, we have chosen the inconvenience for many. The bug is recorded in Apple’s bug reporting system, and we expect there to be a resolution in due course.

How to update

As always when updates are mentioned, it is worth reminding you that updates are (or should be) automatic on Android and iOS, while on the Mac and on 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. (Remember, though, that the Catholic Calendar update for iOS isn’t expected to appear for another few days).

One Response to “October 2019 newsletter”

  1. mattsmi said

    Wonderful idea, Martin, thank you!

    Will you be adding it as an option to include in the ebooks later?

    (Dr) Matthew Smith
    (M) +61 448 606 370
    (E) mtgsmith@hotmail.com

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