Electric Prayer

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

October 2022 newsletter

Posted by universalis on 11 October 2022

The Rosary

Sometimes you step into a church for a moment of silent reflection, and as the noise of outside fades away and the silence takes over, from out of the shadows you start to hear a voice. It is saying something, you don’t know what, and after some moments that voice stops and other voices take over and still you don’t know what exactly they are saying. Then it is the first voice’s turn again and you realise: it is the Rosary.

It is like when you are on a ferry and touch a part of the structure and feel the pulse of the engines that are making the whole thing go. The Rosary is the engine-room of the Church.

We don’t know in detail how prayer works: only that it does work, on every level. It keeps the mystical body of Christ together; it keeps the world together and on course. And even outside the teams of determined women who make that silent mid-afternoon church not silent, we out here in the world can still do our bit. My friend Corinne used to wear a bracelet which just happened to have ten beads on it; and she used it for what it was meant for. Inspired, I looked at my key-ring and I found it had ten keys on it: the basic ingredient.

Universalis has a Rosary page, and you can see it in all the Universalis programs and apps. October is the month of the Rosary, and the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary comes this Friday, so now seems a good time to add some features to that Rosary page.

First and most important, there is now a verse of Scripture for each of the 20 × 10 = 200 Hail Marys in the whole Rosary. Their centre is the Gospels but the Psalms, the Prophets and the Apocalypse all have their place, because the context is the whole of salvation history. The verses help you know where you are – not only which Mystery, but how far through that Mystery – and they give your mind something to catch hold of as you go through it.

Second, you can listen to it all (this comes only in the apps, for both iPhone/iPad and Android). The core is an actual recitation of the Rosary by an actual community: Downside, the pupils and teachers at the school, the Benedictine monks of St Gregory the Great and the people of the parishes round about. Being actual people, some of them are outgoing, some of them are half overcome by shyness – but then, that all goes to show that the Church herself is a real living entity and not a polished performance. Over all this, calm and clearly spoken, verse after verse of Scripture gives each mystery its shape.

Third, Universalis offers an extra way for us to do the Rosary. We would all like to be strong and fit and do a whole set of five mysteries each day, the way it is laid out in the books, and of course Universalis gives you that as an option. But we ordinary people don’t always have half an hour of undistracted focus to spare, however much we would like to, so as well as those regular patterns the menu has another choice. It is called “A Decade a Day”. It does what it says. Each day, it gives you one decade from that day’s Mysteries. The great thing about this is that it leaves you no excuse. To listen to one decade takes six minutes, almost exactly. Very few of us don’t have six minutes in a day. To take the simplest example: tomorrow, when the alarm wakes you up in the morning, don’t press Snooze, open Universalis and press Play. The app chooses the Mystery for you and all you need to do is sink into it and listen. Try it.

Daily Books

A day or two ago it was the feast of St Francis of Assisi. The Franciscans and the Dominicans are the two hinges on which the Church, and our civilisation, pivoted suddenly just when you thought it was never going to, and embraced the world in a new way: not giving in to it, but giving it life.

This is a good moment to remember the Daily Books feature in Universalis, because one of the Daily Books is “St Francis of Assisi” by G.K. Chesterton. “Daily Books” comes in the File menu in the Mac and Windows programs and in the all-purpose ⓘ menu in the apps. It lets you choose a book, and it gives it to you in short daily instalments as an addition to your prayer schedule: in the About Today page or after the Mass readings or at the end of any of the Hours. Each day’s extract is long enough to nourish you but not so long that you rush through it to get to the end. Try it and see.

The Creed in Slow MotionCover illustration

It is less than two weeks until The Creed in Slow Motion comes out in America and less than three weeks until it comes out in Australia and New Zealand. Definitely time to pre-order your copy!

The last newsletter listed some enthusiastic reactions from all over the world and across all denominations. They came from people of all kinds and of all ages. One new one has come in which I thought you might find encouraging because the writer is a 17-year-old schoolboy. You will probably be able to tell that, from the breathless punctuation of his WhatsApp sentences.

I so very much like your book

It really is great

I don’t have many breaks or free time, but every time I manage to squeeze reading into my daily schedule it’s such a pleasure

The problem is that I don’t want to stop reading

It’s addictive what it is

I know it’s out of a sudden but you did a very good job writing it.

chapter after chapter I’m more and more impressed

The head master read it, that’s for sure. I’ve talked with him about it while waiting in the lunch queue

I’d certainly recommend it to 6th formers

This site tells you everything about how to get hold of the book, wherever you are, and it has pages full of interesting additional material, including interviews with the author. Do have a look.

Thank you all for using Universalis. If you have trouble or questions, or suggestions, do write to us at universalis@universalis.com or use the Contact Us button in one of the apps.

Let us all keep one another in our prayers, as always.

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