Friday, August 28, 2009


Response to last Friday’s “Keeping it Real”

Fr. V. makes excellent points. Symbolism is important and we are to use real flowers, candles, etc. for the Liturgy of the Church. When it comes to the iBreviary, I must admit my own hesitation in using it at first. I decided after getting it to try it out for a couple of weeks and then make a decision. I did so and even asked my spiritual director about it. When all is said and done, the point is that one is still praying the Divine Office regardless of the medium as long as the medium prints the correct official liturgical texts (which “iBreviary “does). While I understand and appreciate the use of the leather bound book in hand, do we want to say that is the only “real” way? For instance, what if on Tuesday’s Holy Hour I included the praying of Evening Prayer (the Liturgical texts recommend this actually). For the people to participate in praying those prayers, I would need to give them all prepared leaflets as “worship aids,” which would have been made with a computer, copied by machine, and thrown away or recycled afterward. Are we not praying Evening Prayer or not being reverent of the texts because we do not use books?

Comparing the Breviary to the ritual books of the Mass is helpful because the Office is also the public prayer of the Church very connected with Holy Mass, but remember that there are rubrics that dictate the use of such books - the carrying and kissing of the Book of the Gospels for instance. There are no rubrics like this concerning the Breviary (none that I could find anyway). So treating the Breviary reverently with a kiss (which is what I often do after praying an hour) is praiseworthy but not required nor irreverent if it is not done.

This question raises another in my mind. I wonder if when the printing of books became more common that monasteries ran into similar concerns. To my knowledge, “back in the day,” monks would sing the entire Office from memory. If someone suggested to them the use of books, did they question its authenticity because books were a modern convenience? I just wonder how that transition happened because monks, friars, and nuns now all use books (I think so anyway).

The originator and co-inventor of the iBreviary application is an Italian priest named Paolo Padrini. He stated in an interview, “‘iBreviary’ is not only a text that can be read on the web, but - and it's this the [sic] great innovation - an ‘action’, that involves man and God: the prayer” (read short interview at Prayer is that dialogue of God with man and man with God in the sanctuary of his heart. Someone could look like they are praying from a book, but are merely reading the prayers whereas one using iBreviary is actually praying them - it is not the book or phone making the difference as much as the person’s heart and faithful intention or lack thereof.
Whatever one uses, the point is to facilitate prayer. Perhaps the iBreviary simply smacks too much of modern technology and the evils that unfortunately can come with it. For those people it will not facilitate prayer, so they should not use it. For some it is beneficial in helping bring them closer to God in prayer throughout the day and facilitates prayer through its convenience. Great! They should use iBreviary! As in many things, the Catholic “both/and” solution applies here. Both can be used. For myself I use both - the book while in our chapel, the iBreviary while I am out and about. Especially as a diocesan priest when schedules change and emergencies happen, I find it helpful.

Oh and by the way, in case the above arguments are not enough, the issue can be somewhat settled in that “iBreviary” has been approved by the Vatican Council for Social Communications (see article at It is not a matter of doctrine, but is nice to know that there is nothing officially “wrong” with using it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Fr. P. Very thoughtful and thorough treatment of this subject. I'd like to add praying the rosary to this list of "real" and "unreal." If I pray the rosary on my fingers in the car, am I praying the rosary or not? I think I am praying it, even though I'm temporarilly bereft of the beads.

Anonymous said...

Although I love the old school feel of leather bound books and the like, I would like to point out that this issue was raised in a blog, posted on the internet. Kind of ironic! ;-)

Fr. V said...

HA! Ouch!

Good show.

Carol said...

Tell ya what -- if I'm lucky enough to net a priest to administer Viaticum one sure day, I'm hoping he won't have an iAnything with him!