Electric Prayer

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

October 2021 newsletter

Posted by universalis on 7 October 2021

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is as good a reason as any for sending out the October newsletter today. Thank you for subscribing, and I hope you enjoy it. This month it is mostly about the features of the Universalis apps and programs, because sometimes people forget some of them and in any case there is always something new to discover.

The Rosary in Universalis

The Universalis apps and programs have a Rosary page. You can choose which Mysteries to celebrate –  Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, Glorious – or tell Universalis to provide a weekly cycle of them. You make your choice by pressing the menu button to the right of the “Rosary” heading at the top of the page.

There is one further option in that menu, which is labelled “A Decade a Day”. You might think that one daily decade of the Rosary sounds a bit lazy compared to doing a whole set of Mysteries, but prayer is not an athletic competition and our duty is to do the right amount, of the right kind, for us. More people can do a walk round the park than can do a five-mile run. The Spirit in his usual quiet way will guide us as to what is right. The advantage of focusing on just one Mystery each day is that one can keep it constantly in one’s mind, reciting a decade early in the day and then reminding oneself from time to time by looking again at the page. Each mystery of the Rosary has a picture of its own, which helps to focus the imagination along with the mind.

Spiritual Reading

The memorial of St Jane Frances de Chantal was back in August, but I have kept the following quotation from her words on that day:

Our Lord doesn’t take the trouble to make martyrs of feeble hearts and people who have little love and not much constancy; he just lets them jog along in their own little way in case they give up and slip from his hands altogether; he never forces our free will.

There are times when we all need that kind of reassurance.

This is a good moment to remind you of the Spiritual Reading page which you will find in all the Universalis apps and programs. The Spiritual Reading page gathers together all the non-biblical readings of the day from the Office of Readings, and you can read as much or as little of it as you like each day, at whatever pace suits you. For instance, on Thursday 12 August you would have seen St Gregory of Nyssa (the reading for the Thursday), and also some sayings of St Jane Frances de Chantal from her secretary’s memoirs, and also the homily of Pope John Paul II on the beatification of the Zairean martyr Blessed Isidore Bakanja.

The Spiritual Readings page complements the official Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, but quite a few people find that it suits them better. It is much shorter, for one thing; and then again, the Office of Readings itself would only ever give you one of these readings, and would not offer you Blessed Isidore Bakanja at all unless you were in Africa. The Spiritual Reading page is a wonderful way of benefiting from some of the Church’s wisdom that would otherwise have passed you by.

I know from the questions which people ask that quite a few of you stick to one page in Universalis (Morning Prayer, perhaps) and never go beyond that. So take this as an encouragement to explore! In the apps, you change from one page to another by tapping in the middle of the screen to get the toolbar and then tapping the “Hours” button in the toolbar. In the programs, there is a menu called “Hours”.

More exploration!

This is turning into rather an instructional newsletter, so let me make one more suggestion about exploring what Universalis and the liturgy have to offer.

To the right of some of the headings in most of the pages, there is a menu button. In the apps it looks like a stack of reddish horizontal lines, and in the programs it looks like a blue arrow. This button always means that you are being offered a choice, so when your curiosity impels you, press the button and see what you get.

Here are a few examples. Next to the name of the feast at the top of the page, the menu button lets you choose between optional Memorials. Next to the name of the page itself, it lets you choose between variants of the page: for instance, Lauds (Morning Prayer) can be said in its normal form or in an enlarged version; you can choose whether to say Compline of the weekday or of the Sunday; you can choose to combine the Office of Readings with one of the other Hours. Next to the heading which says “Introduction”, the menu button lets you choose whether to have the Invitatory Psalm and, if so, which psalm to use.

And so it goes on. Do explore and do not be afraid: if you select a setting you don’t want, you can always press the menu button again and get back to the way things were before.

And finally…

Now that, in England at least, we are getting back to church but still not without Mass books, I can testify that selecting the Mass Today page and enlarging the text a bit is an excellent way of attending Mass with one’s godchildren. The elder goddaughter is drawn by a desire to take part in what is going on (and by the irresistible magnetism of screens) and scrolls carefully through the Gloria and Creed and everything, reciting them out loud with confidence. Then the younger goddaughter’s finger snakes in from nowhere to tap just at the top edge where a tap means “Scroll back to the beginning”… and now I have a new feature request to add to our Wish List!

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