Electric Prayer

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

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July 2018 newsletter

Posted by universalis on 17 July 2018

The calendar clicks steadily on through Ordinary Time like the mileometer on a bicycle, but if you look closely enough at them, the weeks do each have their own character.

This week, in the Office of Readings, is the week of Elijah, while the Second Readings come from On the Mysteries, by St Ambrose. Addressed to the newly baptized, these readings go into depth on the symbolism of every part of the rite these people have just been through, and its connection to the salvation history of the Old Testament. Later in the week the focus moves on to the Eucharist. What adds freshness is that St Ambrose had only been baptized himself some thirteen years before writing this treatise. The story of how a catechumen, not yet baptized, was chosen against his will to be Bishop, baptized one week and consecrated the next, demands a lot more than a quick sentence in a newsletter. Even this About Today page in Universalis only scratches the surface.

Audio progress • Long passages • Invitatory Psalm • Hybrid Hours • Daytime psalms • How to update

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June 2018 newsletter

Posted by universalis on 17 June 2018

Recent newsletters have welcomed you to Lent, or said Happy Easter or Happy Ascension. Those were indeed glorious times. Now all we can say is, welcome to Ordinary Time!

It is true that Ordinary Time does not have much of a ring to it. When I was a child there was something desperately dull about the prospect of week after week of green vestments stretching into the future. But then, all human life is like that. After the party, or the holiday, or the exam success, or the victory in tournament or war, we come back in the end to the old routine of putting out the rubbish and making sure there will be milk for breakfast tomorrow. After the excitement of First Communion comes the second communion, and the third.

Theologically, of course, it makes sense. The Spirit, having come down on us, is now living in us and acting through us. But still we are human and miss the excitement.

It is a bit like that with Universalis this month. Just when thousands of you have very kindly pressed the button in the app and asked to be sent newsletters, there is no grand world-shaking news to convey. No stunning new features that will transform your spiritual life. The transformation now has to come from within, from you. As St Paul (who loved athletic metaphors) would put it: you have the home gym in your hand, so now use it!

All the same, I have a few things to report.

Languages

By the nature of things, most of you will be using Universalis in English (or Latin, since everything is now available in Latin as well: see the Settings screen in your app). On top of that, additional languages might seem to be of interest only to a minority. But out in the real world each of those minorities is still millions of people. Those extra languages matter and I am proud when Universalis can act as a channel to provide them. The latest steps forward are that we now have the major Hours in Irish Gaelic, and the Order of Mass in Setswana and (in a draft form) in Igbo. Apart from that, the provider of Mass readings in one of the tropical languages is now starting work on Compline, and there is every chance that Madagascar will have the whole Liturgy of the Hours in Malagasy soon: a draft version of Compline is in the apps and programs already.

The Office of Readings

The Office of Readings is the hidden gem of the Liturgy of the Hours. I have mentioned the Second Readings before, the ones from the saints and the Fathers of the Church. Now it is the turn of the First Readings. At first sight the idea of a daily “slab of Scripture” does not sound that special, but it is. As the General Instruction says, the Office of Readings is able to include longer and more “difficult” passages that wouldn’t fit well in Mass. What you don’t realise until you experience it is that the longer passages can actually make more sense. An isolated few sentences from the Second Letter to the Corinthians (such as we had at Mass on Sunday) are all very well, but they can’t convey a sense of what St Paul was really getting at as well as a complete chapter can. In this particular case, the whole chapter will turn up on the 27th of July. It is worth waiting for; although of course if you have an app or a program, you can cheat and look ahead.

Looking less far ahead, the story of Gideon is about to appear. Catch it on Tuesday, when Gideon tells the angel of the Lord that the Lord is not doing a very good job of protecting his people Israel, and on Wednesday, where Gideon expresses perfect willingness to act as God’s instrument for the rescue of Israel as long as God first proves who he is, and proves it twice. There is no way of cutting down that second story to be short enough for Mass and still make sense, and perhaps that is just as well. Perhaps one shouldn’t hold Gideon up as an example of how we ought to behave; but how magnificently human it all is! Do read those First Readings when they come.

More audio

Those of you who have been subscribing to what started as “Morning Prayer every day” but is now “Morning, Mid-Morning, Midday, Afternoon, Evening and Night Prayer” now have something more to look forward to. We are beginning work on the Office of Readings.

As you can imagine, this is an enormous project, about as big as everything else put together; but at least it is under way. For now –  as long as you have the latest version of the apps, and are subscribing to the spoken English Hours –  you can press the Play button in the Office of Readings page and hear the First Reading. Over the next month or two we will complete recording the First Readings, then record the Second Readings, and then record the psalms and so on; so that with any luck, before the end of the year you will be able to listen to the entire Office of Readings at home, or when travelling, or in your car.

Updates

To see the new content and hear the new audio, you need to have an up-to-date version of Universalis or Catholic Calendar. Updates ought to happen automatically but sometimes (especially on Android) they don’t. We have instructions for updating manually here.

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May 2018 Newsletter

Posted by universalis on 10 May 2018

Happy Ascension!

The solemnity of the Ascension marks a change of gear in the Easter season, which now dedicates itself to looking forward to the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. The Second Readings in the Office of Readings for the next ten days devote themselves to this theme, and it is worth following them even if, in general, the Office of Readings is not part of your daily practice. There is nothing wicked about just looking at the Second Reading and skipping the rest!

Updates • Grail psalms • Lectio Divina book

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April 2018 Newsletter

Posted by universalis on 12 April 2018

Happy Easter!

There is really nothing that can be added to those two words, in their fullest meaning. Easter is why we are Christians at all. Easter is why there is any point to the world. Some of our yearly Easters seem to pass without much happening, but when God chooses to use one of them to the full, what an Easter that is! So again, happy Easter. He is truly risen, alleluia!

Office of Readings • Study Hymns • Lectio Divina • New season’s e-books

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March 2018 Newsletter

Posted by universalis on 16 March 2018

By the time you read this, the moon will be either new or very young.

At this time of year, that is not a whimsical or irrelevant observation. From now on, the fuller the moon is, the closer to Easter we are. All we need to do to see how close we have got is to look up into the sky. When the moon is full, it is Holy Week.

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