From a reader:
I purchased an iPhone this weekend, and have downloaded the ibreviary so far it works great. I was wondering if it would be appropriate to use my ibreviary during adoration. I typically will bring along one of the four volume set of my Liturgy of the Hours and my phone (I am scheduled for 3am and am alone the phone is for safety), but now it seems I could just bring my iPhone. It just feels a little uncouth to be reading from an iPhone during adoration as opposed to a book. So what do you think is it OK or uncivilized?
I am glad you are enjoying the use of the iPhone app iBreviary. You must be using some language other than Latin. Latin is never updated, though it is given as an option.
I don’t think the means by which you read your texts makes too much difference, so long as the instrument (whether book, or scroll, or screen, clay tablet, or phone, etc.) doesn’t become the true focus of your attention. I think some people turn their books into objects of veneration, nearly to the point of bibliomancy [or bibliolatry]. This is easier to fall into with the beautiful old editions of the Breviarium Romanum than it is with the generally poorly bound editions of the Liturgy of the Hours. But consider as well that something people today seem to have turned their smart phones into their oracles. [portatiliolatry?]
Furthermore, there is not only your own approach to the phone, but also how others might interpret what you are doing. I was recently wait for some folks at a church. I parked myself in a corner of a pew at at the back while they took care of business decorating the sanctuary. While waiting I read my office on my iPhone. As my party approached one made the observation that at least had the chance to read my e-mail. These phones are not associated with prayer, even in pious company. The first reaction that people have is that you are doing something quite removed from the sacred. If you will be alone in the chapel, that won’t be a problem, of course.
I have in the past joked that one day we would see Gospel processions with liturgical laptops equipped with covers of the liturgical color of the day. I have quipped that one day we might find monks praying in their dark chapels with their faces illuminated by their hand held devices.
We are no longer readers of wax tablets, or scrolls, or parchment, or vellum. Technology of the delivered word is changing. Young people seem to read screens of all kinds more willingly than books. Newspapers are dying and books sales are down. Kindle and other readers are on the rise.
But connotions change slowly. The content you read on a phone or reader may be the same as that which you find in a book, but holding the book and holding the gadget are perceived as different activities.