The Mass, brought to you by Steve Jobs

How would you feel about an iPad on the altar? Thanks to Father Paolo Padrini — the developer of the iBreviary app for the iPhone, and now an app for the iPad that contains the entire Roman missal — we may be seeing it sometime soon:

Padrini, a consultant with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said Friday the free application will be launched in July in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Latin. . . .

The iPad application is similar [to iBreviary] but also contains the complete missal — containing all that is said and sung during Mass throughout the liturgical year. Upgrades are expected to feature audio as well as commentaries and suggestions for homilies as well as musical accompaniment, he said.

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“Paper books will never disappear,” he said in a phone interview from his home parish in Tortona, in Italy’s northern Piemonte region. But at the same time “we shouldn’t be scandalized that on altars there are these instruments in support of prayer.”

There are definitely practical applications here: Padrini points to one instance where, while traveling, the tiny parish he visited didn’t have an adequate missal, and his iPad would have come in handy. And having the missal available in five languages — as well as access to music, prayers, and more — would be a boon to any priest or parish with limited funds or resources.

Still, it could take some getting used to. I still feel sheepish when I pull out my iPhone in Church to pray from my iBreviary app; to my pew mates, it must look like I’m checking e-mail or playing Doodle Jump. We’re clearly still not quite to the point where we see these items as everyday tools and not just entertaining gadgets.

What do you think? A good idea, one that’ll take some getting used to, or just… wrong?



  • Margaret Cabaniss

    Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

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