Electronically delivered Catholicism ramblings

At BetNet there is a post about the iRosary, ostensibly using an iPod or other mp3 player for your recitation/audition of the Rosary. 

iRosary uses the advantages of the iPod to make the rosary more attractive and flexible for younger believers. At the same time, however, it reciprocally uses the significance of both objects as practical commodities on the one side and symbolic signs on the other and only changes the objects to a minimum extent.

The most important distinguishing feature of the iPod, the white earphones cable, becomes a string of beads on which only one bead is now found. This bead can be shifted. The position of the bead can be measured and heard as audio beads on a sensitive range of the cable. Due to technical possibilities, the new rosary can help a person to learn the prayer; the right mysteries are inserted automatically and there are various modes for choosing the degree of difficulty.

Not a bad idea.  Not sure about the beads, but okay.  Maybe the big iPods can have video of which bead you are on.  Just thinkin’ out load here.   

I am reminded of a whimsical thing I wrote for WDTPRS in print once, about using a notebook for a one volume version of the entire Missale Romanum (which the late Archbp. Bugnini said he would make sure could never be used again):

Today, with the advent multiple volumes of the lectionary we have now a plethora of books.  And with the addition of so many new readings from Scripture in the different two year “daily” cycle and the three year annual cycle, you would have to push the Missal up to the altar on a two-wheeler if it were all in one volume.   Now that we stand at the dawn of the “information revolution” I suppose one solution would be to provide each sanctuary with two notebook computers linked with wireless LAN cards that could access a database on a CD-ROM containing every prayer and reading for that particular day.  Call it the Sacramentarium Cyberense Romanum.  The computer would automatically pick the readings based on its internal clock and calendar.  No more ribbons!  And can you imagine seeing the deacon bowing before the priest, asking for his blessing and then raising his shiny new liturgical notebook computer and proceeding to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel?  He would solemnly open its tasteful and liturgically correct cover (blue for Advent, right?), announce the reading, incense it, hit any key to take it out of its screen saver mode and begin, wreathed in the fragrant smoke lit by the glow of the 17" display.  The computer could have special decorative covers, like some of the new large format books for the Gospel readings.  And if everyone had their PDAs and smartphones with them, they could scroll along with the texts in the pews, being able to see the original Hebrew, Greek and Latin sources together with commentaries by the Fathers of the Church and the current box-scores of baseball games they were interested in. The next step?   Sacramental ATM machines.  On the other hand, since the prayers of the Mass are now copyrighted by the bishops, they wouldn’t be able to publish and sell as many books that way.  After all, whenever they make some changes, every parish in the country needs to retool and obtain new books, sometimes at not insignificant expense. 

You know… when my 1962 Missale I have here in Rome "grew legs" and vanished for a short time from the chapel, I used my laptop.  You just can’t make things up fast enough to stay ahead of reality, I guess.

But I digress…

I use audio for the Rosary in Chinese.  It helps.

I learned how to say the Rosary before I was Catholic, from the Catholic father of a friend of mine.  In a sense, the personal contact there was later important when considering the Catholic faith in a more serious way.  On the other hand, technology and media today has begun to separate people from human contact.  Thus, something like this iRosary (and PODCAzTs) can be useful.  On the other hand, we should make sure there are opportunities in parishes for people to say the Rosary together.  

Hmmm… maybe I ought to expand the Patristic Rosary Project into PODCAzTs.

On that note, I would guide your attention to the page of San Gregorio ai Muratori in Rome where the Tridentine Mass is celebrated.  They are going to have a Rosary with musical accompaniment.

May 23rd, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. at San Gregorio dei Muratori, Via Leccosa 75 (off Piazza Nicosia), the Fondazione Elsa Peretti with the collaboration of the Associazione Pro Missa Romana is sponsoring a recitation of the Most Holy Rosary in Latin with musical accompaniment.

Gregorian Antiphon
Ave Maris Stella
Francesco Soriano (1548-1621)
Canon CIII Sopra l’Ave Maris Stella
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704)
Sonata del Rosario XII L’Ascensione di Cristo – Intrada
Aria tubicinum – Alemanda – Courente – Double
Anonimo (prima metà XVIII sec.)
Ach amoris dolcissima poena
mottetto per Soprano, Viola d’amore e Basso Continuo
Ach Amoris, Aria
Sed in hac poena, Recitativo
Tu o mi Jesu, Aria
Pablo Bruna (1611-1679)
Tiento de Secondo Tono por G-sol-re-ut
Sobre la letania de la Virgen

This will be the first in a series of Rosaries which will be recited at the principal Marian shrines of Rome. Elsa Peretti has dedicated these events to Our Lady and to the recovery of the sacred through the traditional rites of the liturgy. This first Rosary is in memory of Nando Peretti.

Did you know that in the Solesmes volume Cantus selecti there are Gregorian settings of antiphons for the mysteries?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. i seriously like the idea of using electronic missals. of course they have to be tastefully decorated in order to fit in the liturgy. would the use of electronic missals ever be considered legitimate development? is there any law prohibiting its use?

  2. Antonia says:

    Well, an electronic rosary sounds like a good idea :) but it wouldn’t help those of us who turn to the rosary in moments of temptation/idleness when it runs out of battery!

    Speaking of the electronic Missale, I’ve been reading the daily Mass readings off WAP pages on my cellphone. Is the complete text of the Missale Romanum available online somewhere, Father?

  3. Maureen says:

    I think a nicely embroidered notebook/missal cover would work, especially if you appliqued some jewels onto it. :)

    Paper really is the more durable technology, but perhaps it serves better as a backup these days. At least until the missal and translation situation stabilizes.

  4. gravitas says:

    Father, at some point, isn’t this becoming a bit much? What’s really troublesome is this story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/11/wpope11.xml

    The bishops of Brazil now think they can consecrate over the internet? And the vatican is allowing it?

    Please give us your thoughts on this. Every day it becomes more and more difficult to not question our prelates …

  5. Brian says:

    Father, maybe you could do a podcast teaching us young people how to say some common prayers (Our Father, Hail Mary, the Creed) in Latin for those of us not near a traditional community but who are interested in the Church’s tradition. Otherwise, we are forced to learn them from people and sources who don’t agree on pronunciation or doctrinal content…

  6. Gravitas, it’s much more likely that the reporter has totally misunderstood the issue. I doubt that even the battiest bishop out there would suggest the possibility of consecrating the eucharistic elements over the internet.
    I blogged about this last week. We need to be careful about not believing everything we read in the papers.

  7. gravitas says:


    I’ve found that same account in a number of legit publications. And the vatican spokesman is on the record.

    I find it hard to believe all of these accounts are wrong and his quotes are completely fabricated.

  8. Tom Burk says:

    Not electronic, but a Rosary Recital that is magnificent.



  9. Juan T. says:

    Father, the iRosary looks like blasphemy to me. Something the Fashion Lords put together. The position of the Cross. The fact that the ipod will be used for other music. Etc.

  10. Boeciana says:

    Oh, Biber’s Rosary Sonatas. Wonderful. (Wish I was anything like technically accomplished enough to play them myself!)

  11. Barb says:

    Where can I get a copy of the Cantus Selecti in the USA?

    Regarding using a computer for readings at Mass, something really disturbs me about incensing a computer. Too much like the enthronement of the goddess in Notre Dame during the French Revolution. Incensing the Word of God in book form is not disturbing, but since a computer can be used for so many different things, the symbolism of the Word of God is absent.

    As far as counting viewing Mass on TV as attending Mass and using the excuse of people being able to take advantage of it because they work and having bread and wine sitting in front of the TV for consecration, whatever happened to the “active participation” mantra? These modernists will twist anything to suit their laziness. Instead of turning to Christ and attracting more vocations, they contradict themselves in the novelties they wish to institute. All I want for myself is a Traditional Latin Mass to attend without having to drive over 3 hours one way. Once we get that in my area, we can begin aggressive evangelization which will not include people sitting in front of a TV consuming bread and wine and thinking it is the Body and Blood of Christ while they flip to other channels when the sermon is too boring.

  12. Maureen says:

    We are getting all wrought up over two unreal things: 1) the theoretical iRosary, and the made-by-media-misunderstanding “Internet Mass”.


    Look, you can say the Rosary with rocks or your fingers. So of course you can say the Rosary on an iPod, if you felt the need. You could even get it blessed. Heck, you can get pretty much anything blessed; we Catholics do that. :)

    If the idea doesn’t appeal to you, why worry about it? It’s a private devotion thing, not Mass… and it’s only a concept drawing! Sheesh!

    There are plenty of things to worry about in this world. This isn’t one of them.

  13. Fr.Archer says:

    Actually, you can say the prayers of the Rosary with rocks or your fingers, but you cannot say the Rosary itself in this manner. The old book, _Externals of the Catholic Church_ gives a good def. of what a rosary is: “The Rosary is counted on beads, which are arranged in “decades,” each consisting of an Our Father and ten Hail Marys…They must be provided with a crucifix or with a medal stamped with a cross, and they must have the proper number of beads, divided into decades.” Anyway, that’s that a Rosary is. I believe the indulgence is granted only if you say these prayers with your beads.

  14. Gravitas,

    Hang around this website long enough, and you’ll discover that even so-called ‘legit publications’ are clueless so far as religous issues are concerned.

    As for the Vatican spokeman’s comments, what he seems to have said is as follows:
    “I am sure internet Mass already exists,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the papal spokesman. “I believe it is a way of involving more people, but it is obviously important to keep going to church and to personally participate. This is part of church life and the internet cannot replace it.”

    To my mind, it’s far more plausible that Fr Lombardi was talking about participation in Mass over the internet. I assure you, if you were to suggest to a Vatican spokesman that a priest could transubstantiate over the internet, then there would have been a much more robust denial of the possibility.

  15. I think Father Zuhlsdorf is making an excellent point about the need for finding
    a balance between using the new technologies we have available to us and
    retaining the traditional way of saying the Rosary, including public recitation
    in a group.

    If we rely too much on saying the Rosary alone or just listening to it in
    our earpods we may miss several opportunities to effect conversion.

    Father just told us that the Rosary helped him convert. No, it was not
    overnight but it happened. Never doubt the power of the Rosary. It always awes

    If I expand my thought further afield, I can see that we as Catholics need
    to find the balance in many other ways. One example is between the
    old calendar and the new one. The old traditions and our current ones. I’ve
    been thinking a lot the last couple of days that the Rogation Days are pretty
    much gone along with Ascension on Thursday. When was the last time any of
    us went to or saw a Eucharistic Procession? But, there is no doubt that the new media has
    helped me learn more about Our Faith. I have yet to listen to Father’s
    most recent PODCAzT-sorry, if my ramblings have already been covered in a more
    literate manner.

  16. gravitas says:


    The reason it troubles me with the Internet consecration is, one, the obvious problem and, second a more thoughtful reason.

    The more thoughtful one is this: more and more Catholics today believe that the bread and wine are just that — bread and wine. They don’t believe it’s the true Body and Blood of Christ. Just mere symbols. Heck, more and more so-called
    priests think that as well. Now, all of the sudden, they’re seeing a so-called consecration over the internet
    and actual bishops saying it’s valid. This, I’m affraid, will lead other Catholics to heresy and the belief that
    there is no way it’s the actual Body and Blood. And with this case, they’d be correct.

    How can it be if there isn’t a priest’s consecrated hands holding the matter, elevating it, praying over it?

    This will just lead to more heresy, apostasy and complete watering down of the Faith.

  17. Janet says:

    Fr. Archer,
    Sometimes for praying the rosary all I have with me are my fingers, or if in the car I have a CD and pray along with it. Whatever indulgences I might gain are given to souls in Purgatory anyway.
    But I just am having a real hard time believing God is so nitpicky as to refuse to “accept” a sincerely prayed Rosary just because I don’t happen to be able at that moment to use an official set of Rosary beads. Hopefully I’m just misunderstanding what you were saying in your message….

  18. Sean says:

    “The Rosary is counted on beads, which are arranged in “decades,” each consisting of an Our Father and ten Hail Marys…They must be provided with a crucifix or with a medal stamped with a cross, and they must have the proper number of beads, divided into decades.”

    Seems to me that this prescribes the form of the rosary (the object) rather than requiring a rosary (the object) to be used in the Rosary (the devotion).

  19. CPKS says:

    Of course the Holy Rosary can be prayed without using the traditional beads. The Rosary is not like a sacrament with defined form and matter. It is a prayer of meditation in which the whole person is involved, and any mnemonic device which frees us to concentrate on the sacred mysteries serves this end.

    The idea of remote consecration (whether over the Internet or older broadcast media) is certainly unsound, and could indeed lead to all sorts of false ideas. Nevertheless, I would be very careful not to denigrate the extent to which the disabled and housebound faithful can participate in the prayerful aspects of the sacred liturgy, when circumstances prevent them from being personally present.

  20. gravitas says:


    Who is denigrating people who stay home due to disability? I would denigrate EWTN if that’s where they’re getting their spiritul fill but that’s another story. All I’m talking about is so-called online consecration which is obviously null and void — not just unsound.

  21. Legisperitus says:

    For anyone who is looking for a highly effective self-study audio course in Church Latin, let me recommend the “Cursus Linguae Latinae Vivae” by the late Fr. Suitbert Siedl available at http://www.hieronymus.us/Venalia/IndEngl.htm

    As of now (regrettably for pod people) it is offered only on cassettes, although an MP3 version is currently under consideration.

  22. Ben says:

    Fr Z, thanks for pointing out the rosary antiphons in Cantus Selecti.

    Here are my suggestions for the Luminous Mysteries – can any one suggest

    Introductory. Beatam me
    Baptism. Vox clamantis
    Cana. Deficiente vino
    Kingdom. Simile est … grano
    Transfiguration. Assumpsit Jesus discipulos
    Eucharist. Sacerdos in aeternum

  23. RC says:

    The tradition of using individual beads in the hand to represent the individual prayers of the Rosary is itself a reminder of the role of the material world and the human body — Mary’s body, Christ’s body, our body — in our salvation.

    The design for an “iRosary”, while no doubt well-intended, seems to move away from this important aspect of the Rosary, in an era when it seems the Albigensians have returned to confuse the faithful about the meaning of the body.

  24. Legisperitus says:

    Well, I asked the people at the above link whether they would make their Latin course available in MP3 and they said they weren’t interested in doing so at this time. (But maybe if they got enough requests…)

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