Electric Prayer

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

May 2023 newsletter

Posted by universalis on 6 May 2023

Happy Eastertide!

The air all around is full of Alleluias, and in the Android and iPhone/iPad apps you even have an Alleluia button which, if you press it, plays you the word ‘Alleluia’ spoken by users of Universalis across the world.

The carpenter and the crown

On Saturday 6 May the people of the United Kingdom will be having a new servant anointed for them: a King. The location is the abbey church of St Peter in Westminster. The name reminds us that it is at the basilica of St Peter in Rome that the servant of the whole people of Christ is anointed: the Pope.

What makes this coincidence fruitful is that on Monday 1 May we celebrate the memorial of St Joseph the Worker. These dates taken together give a clearer perspective on the nature of work and of service.

Of course the date chosen for St Joseph the Worker has wider pagan resonances, as so many of the dates of the Church’s feasts do: but its content opposes pagan ideas and turns them upside down. This is in no way a ‘me too’ feast. St Joseph is not a ‘worker of the world’ in the old collective style, still less is he a new-style ‘human resource’ (which so often comes to mean ‘an object and not an individual’). He is not a resource. He is a unique being created intentionally by God, just as we all are.

And as we all are, Joseph is a worker because it is his vocation to work. God created the world and rested after his labours, as Genesis tells us. We, made in God’s image, labour in this world he made and guide it and shape it to its true and fulfilled destiny. There is nothing servile about this: indeed, there is no vocation more noble. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Laborem exercens (1981) has much more to say on this theme. It is full of wisdom and well worth re-reading.

Now a carpenter or a plumber serves perhaps a hundred or a thousand people while a king serves tens of millions, and a pope more than a thousand million, but that is a difference of number, not nature. The theme of service remains the same. Each of us, in our own way, forms part of this chain of server and served. Monday’s feast should remind us that that part is an honourable one.

We also need to remember that the ‘higher’ you are in the world’s view, the more of a servant you are. The proudest title of the Pope is ‘Servant of the servants of God’ – and our Lord and master, the Son of Man, told us he had come not to be served, but to serve.

Meanwhile, what of the carpenters? What of the plumbers? It is rather a pity that while kings and popes and bishops are anointed, to ask God’s blessing on their future life of service, carpenters and plumbers are not. They should be demanding it! Imagine a liturgy for carpenters stretching from the Tree of Life, through the cedarwood with which Solomon’s Temple was built, and even as far as the wood of the Cross – for the Cross had to be made by somebody: it was necessary for the salvation of the world. A liturgy for plumbers would start even earlier, with the separation of the waters above the vault of heaven from the waters below the vault. Then there is the water-filled trench which God set ablaze when Elijah confronted the priests of Baal…

The Creed in Slow Motion

Father Sean Doggett’s series of videos following the themes of The Creed in Slow Motion has been eagerly watched since we started posting them day by day in the About Today page in Universalis. That series of pages has come to an end, but you can still look up the complete list of videos here. And of course if you haven’t got the book, get it. If you have, read it!


The Universalis apps on Android and iPhone/iPad have a feature called ‘Moments’. This gives you, once an hour from 9am to 5pm each day, an alert featuring an antiphon from the day’s Liturgy of the Hours. It is an an hourly inspiration.

You will find the switch controlling these ‘Moments’ in the Settings screen within the Universalis app. (Sometimes, particularly with Android, your phone’s operating system may want you to confirm that you have given Universalis permission to show these alerts, otherwise they do not appear.)

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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