Electric Prayer

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

February 2023 newsletter

Posted by universalis on 2 February 2023

How long is Christmas?

When you go into a church on the first day of February and see a crib still there long after we have all got rid of our trees, the question presents itself in concrete form.

Christmas is Christmas Day – of course.

Christmas is the Twelve Days of Christmas, from the birth of Jesus and his appearing to the shepherds up to the Epiphany, the coming of the Wise Men and the first appearance of the incarnate God to the Gentiles.

Christmas is more than that. The celebration of the Incarnation is not complete until Jesus is sent out on his mission on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Christmas and the Epiphany and the Baptism are three facets of the same event, and it resonates throughout the liturgy of the period. But there is more to come.

Before Christmas there is a seven-day countdown, marked by the ancient ‘O Antiphons’ – and that is part of the bigger almost-four-week warm-up which starts on Advent Sunday. Cribs often start then. I remember seeing one in Hildesheim in Germany which was 20 feet long and told the whole story of salvation history, beginning with a Garden of Eden with giraffes in it.

After the triple Christmas-Epiphany-Baptism celebration, it still isn’t all over. The afterglow of Christmas still carries on. The Marian anthem at Compline is the Alma redemptoris mater, and the Crib is still to be seen in churches. This is because Jewish tradition does not bring the season of “a child has been born” to a close until forty days have passed. Forty days bring us to today, so today is final, definitive closure of the Christmas season as a whole: the feast of the Presentation in the Temple, with all its candles.

And that is that. Now we are back to normal. Or rather, we aren’t, because nothing is normal. The entire ten-week celebration has taken us once again through the transition from BC to AD, and it reminds us that we are in a ‘new normal’ which is not normal at all, because the Child has been born.

God is with us, and can never not be.

The Rosary

The Rosary page is proving very popular, especially with the new “One Decade a Day” option which gives one just enough to go on but not too much. The latest app and program updates add the extra Fátima Prayer at the end of each decade if you want it. And in all the mobile apps, you can press Play to listen to a recitation including a Scripture verse for each decade.

Amazon e-books

After a bit of a bureaucratic hitch the ready-made Kindle e-books are now available: half-year Hours and full-year Mass readings. The catalogue is here as usual.

Those of you who create regular e-books for yourselves can carry on doing so, of course. Unfortunately Amazon have improved their systems, with the result that they fail with mysterious error messages if the e-book is too big. There is no way of knowing what “too big” means because Amazon aren’t saying, but a half-year e-book with lots of selected pages seems to be too much. If you run into trouble then this page gives some explanations and suggestions.

Amazon’s branding is confusing, but if you have a Kindle Fire tablet rather than a Kindle e-book reader then you would be much better off getting the Universalis app. The details are here.

Paging and scrolling

One can read long text by scrolling it up and down like a web page; or by turning pages like a book. Everyone believes that one of these ways of doing things is right and the other is wrong, but they don’t all agree on which is which. The Universalis apps offer you both choices.

I mention this because it is a feature that people don’t always notice. If you have a Universalis app on iPhone/iPad or Android, have a look at this post to see how to choose whichever reading method you prefer.

The life of the world to come

Father Sean Doggett’s series of short videos from Grenada on The Creed in Slow Motion has come to a triumphant conclusion. It is an epic: “The life of the world to come” is Episode 53.

The videos are full of clarity, grace and charm. It is humbling to think that this book inspired them. 53 episodes can sound daunting, so I strongly recommend that you jump straight to that final episode and get a sense of the joy and delight of it.

A complete catalogue of all the videos is here.

Another book review

The Church Times has published a thoroughly encouraging review of The Creed in Slow Motion by Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester, in its Christmas issue. Here is a link to it. Have a look at it to encourage you to take the final step and buy (or read) the book; or if you have already done so, to show yourself how right you were!

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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