Electric Prayer

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

How to update the iOS app

Posted by universalis on 13 July 2018

The last version of Universalis and Catholic Calendar for iOS (version 2.90) had a bug which caused it to crash when you tried to view it as light text on a dark background. This was a bad bug because if you already had Universalis set to that mode, it would crash as soon as you opened it! We immediately produced a corrected version, version 2.91. Apple very kindly gave it priority in their review process, and version 2.91 is now in the App Store.

This post describes how to update your Universalis (or Catholic Calendar) app quickly. Most people’s iPhones and iPads are set to update their apps automatically, but this only happens at intervals, so doing it by hand is quicker.

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Universalis iOS 2.90: bug CORRECTED

Posted by universalis on 12 July 2018

This bug has been corrected. Sorry for the inconvenience!

The update is in the App Store and you should find it installed on your device soon. But if you don’t want to wait, please visit this page for instructions for getting the updated, corrected version 2.91.

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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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“Waking up to God”: a review

Posted by universalis on 17 April 2018

José Manuel Eguiguren, Waking up to God: an Experience of Lectio Divina, Downside Abbey Press 2017, ISBN: 978-1-898663-19-5, £20 from Downside Abbey Bookshop (follow the link or email them at books@downside.co.uk).

In 2009 Pope Benedict XVI said, ‘Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time.’ The ancient practice of Lectio Divina is becoming increasingly well known to Catholics and is building strong links with Christians of other Churches and traditions. Universalis has recently included in its offer an approach to Lectio Divina that takes users to the Gospel of the day and places it within a framework that encourages readers to listen with the ear of the heart, as Jesus’ first disciples listened to him and, where possible, to share with one another what God’s Word is saying to them in their own personal situation.

There are already a great many books on Lectio Divina and Waking up to God is big (over 500 pages). Why should you read it?

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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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When do the psalm-prayers happen?

Posted by universalis on 23 February 2018

In the revision and renewal of the Liturgy of the Hours that was completed in the early 1970s, one of the important and interesting changes was the addition of “psalm-prayers”, collects that are inserted after each psalm and canticle. As §112 of the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours puts it:

Orationes super psalmos, quae recitantes adiuvent in eorum interpretatione praecipue christiana, in Supplemento libri Liturgiae Horarum pro singulis psalmis proponuntur et possunt ad libitum adhiberi ad normam veteris traditionis, ita scilicet ut, absoluto psalmo et aliquo silentii spatio observato, oratio psallentium affectus colligat et concludat.

“Prayers on the psalms, to help those who recite the psalms to interpret them in a particularly Christian sense, are offered for each psalm in the Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours. They can, if wished, be added to the Office, following an ancient tradition – that is, the psalm having been completed and a certain period of silence having been observed, to bring together the thoughts and feelings of those who have recited the psalm, and to bring them to a conclusion.”

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Updating apps and programs

Posted by universalis on 21 February 2018

Depending what Universalis app or program you are using, it may update itself automatically when a new version comes out. Here are all the details, with instructions for manual updating.

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The date of the Epiphany

Posted by universalis on 5 January 2018

Starting in 2018, the bishops of England and Wales have switched from the commercial to the religious calendar for the feasts of the Epiphany and the Ascension. For the Epiphany, this has the following effect:

2018: moved from 7 January (the first Sunday after 1 January) to 7 January (Saturday the 6th, transferred to the Sunday).

2019: moved from 6 January (the first Sunday after 1 January) to 6 January.

2020: moved from 5 January (the first Sunday after 1 January) to 5 January (Monday the 6th, transferred to the Sunday).

2021: moved from 3 January (the first Sunday after 1 January) to 6 January.

To summarize: the first time you see any difference will be in 2021. But the change is already there in Universalis, and if you are bored or curious, you can use Universalis to look at the calendar for 2021 and see it in action.

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