QUAERITUR: TLM resources for vision impaired priest

A question from a priest reader:

Hi Fr. Z.
Thank you for your work.  I have been a priest for sixteen months and have a desire to learn the EF, and some of my parishioners are even asking for it and would attend if I offered it.  My best friend, a priest in ___, and I have plans to visit the good Fathers of St. John Cantius in Chicago for training when the time permits. 

My inquiry is this.  I am visually handicapped and find it hard to read the large OF Sacramentary on a missal stand.  The EF altar Missals I have seen have even smaller print than that, and it is usually bunched up. 

I would not be able to see those…let alone use altar cards. 

Do you know of anyone who prints a larger Missal?  Would it be tacky to print larger texts for myself and have them in a binder?  Please advise if you can.


I know there are some very large editions of the old Missale with larger print.  They tend very old editions, reeeally large, and I am sure very hard to find.

I think in your situation using a binder, as elegant as possible, might be a good idea.  Perhaps you could get high quality color enlarged photocopies of the whole of the Ordinary, and then add the Propers you need as you go.  I think this could be done well and it wouldn’t be tacky at all.  Also, I am sure everyone would understand why you were doing it and no one in their right mind would complain.

In Italy there are some very beautiful document "binders" for presentation of important documents.  I don’t know what things are available in the USA.  Surely some readers will know more.

I hesitate to add this, for surely a few people will freak out… but once upon a time in a WDTPRS column I joked about having a liturgical laptop Missal: Sacramentarium Cyberense Romanum.  And because you just can’t make some things up fast enogh… I must also confess that I once wound up saying Mass privately from a laptop.  My missal had grown legs and I was stuck for a couple days somewhere without any book.  It was use the laptop or not say Mass at all.  I chose the laptop.  I had no printer where I was.  I had digitally photographed the whole 1962 Missale Romanum and had it on my hard drive.  I just copied the necessary pages to a folder, numbered them in order so all I had to do with the Picture Manager was click to "turn" the "page".  It worked fairly well.  I am not saying that that is a long term solution, but it could help you at least during the learning process.

Maybe some folks here have a recommendation or two.

Thanks and persevere!

I hope priests continue to write in.  I would like their contributions to be a regular feature here.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Romulus says:

    A very clean copy of the entire 1962 missal can be downloaded here: http://www.musicasacra.com/pdf/romanmissal_classical.pdf. You can print the pages you need on 11×17 paper, which should get you text close to twice the normal size. Hope this helps.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    “Sacramentarium Cyberense Romanum”

    How funny! I know the Liturgia Horarum is available on PDA for easy use. I wouldn’t be surprised one day if in the name of enviromentalism…

    Wait a minute… didn’t the CDW forbid the use of the name “Sacramentary”? ;-)

  3. A Random Friar says:

    I am amazed at how easily some folks jump on priests (myself included) for some “irregularity,” when that irregularity can be explained rather easily with “Fr. X had surgery and can’t genuflect” or “Fr. Y has trouble seeing,” or “Fr. Z. has lost his missal.” ;)

    It’d behoove most of us to presume the good if it’s something relatively minor, and if a concern pops up, ask (nicely) by all means. Padres can be wrong too.

  4. Jeff Reese says:

    The point Random Friar made is very good. Those of us for whom the beauty and solemnity of the Liturgy is a preoccupation can slip into automatically assuming the worst when it comes to variances in liturgical praxis. If anyone (like myself) recognizes knows that they have that tendency, I think it behooves us to make a concerted effort to practice charity towards our priests.

    I am doing my Lectio Divina on Luke’s gospel, and today I hit both the reading concerning the other exorcist, with regards to whom Our Lord reminds us “those who are not against us are for us,” AND the reading of Christ chastising the Sons of Thunder for their quickness to condemn. Very powerful reminders, and very applicable to daily (and liturgical) life.

  5. dcs says:

    The large-print altar missal is called the Missale Caecutientium and contains only the Mass of Our Lady and the Mass for the Dead. It does seem to be very rare. You can see photos of it here:


    (I don’t know whether this copy is actually for sale.) I did manage to acquire one for a priest friend, not in very good condition unfortunately (it was from the early 1920s) but still usable.

  6. Michael Fudge says:

    I have attended parishes that have used binders for various reasons. At one parish, we had a red leather binder with gold embossing that matched the Altar Missal exactly. From the pews, no one could tell the difference. It was very nice and I don’t remember it being all that expensive (it was ordered from a trophy shop I believe)

  7. John says:

    This is one of the reasons why I truly enjoy reading Fr. Z’s writing and this blog. We are blessed to have a priest who is faithful to the church and who loves her ways and the Mass and more. Yet he is able to use new ideas, new inventions and make them “fit” with tradition not seem like some trendy new idea.


  8. ckdexterhaven says:

    Another idea would be to ask if he has an experienced professional graphic designer in his parish. It is amazing what graphic design folks can do on the computer these days, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they could print something beautiful and helpful to this priest at the same time.

  9. Getting a binder embossed can be expensive and some companies will only cater for bulk orders. Plain binders (hold up to 100 pages) cost about $25 (without delivery charges). Mayapple Press in Minnesota supply them, apparently only in black. (htp://www.mayapplepress.com) A British company do them in black, blue but also in red – for that more Missal-like appearance. You can find them here – http://www.my-history.co.uk/acatalog/Family_History_Book_Making.html

    Lastly if you want them embossed, gold blocking etc. these people can help but they really only do large orders. http://www.springbackbinders.com/Home.html

    Lastly, Mayapple do theirs for American letter size paper but the British ones are sized to A4 metric paper; practically speaking it shouldn\’t make very much difference.

  10. Father J says:

    Fr. Z,

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my inquiry and thanks to all of you for the helpful limks for binders. I think, perhaps, that is what I will do…print a nice, decently-sized copy of the Ordinary, and then change the propers as needed.

    Many blessings!

  11. isabella says:

    An affordable way to get a nice binder would be to find somebody who can sew/embroider make a velvet and/or brocade cover for it. Or raw silk (not the satin kind). If you lived in my neck of the woods, I’d volunteer. You can buy beautiful bridal lace and/or brocaded velvet in white, then dye it, for less than $150/yd even up here. Raw silk sometimes looks like leather from a distance, depending on the weave style. You probably would not even need a whole yard, depending on the size of your binder.

  12. Charivari Rob says:

    One of our local priests has gone through certain health issues the past year which have impaired his eyesight. There are numerous magnifiers on the market, machines that will display text illuminated, enlarged and high-contrast. The technology has advanced over the years, especially regards weight and miniturization. What used to be done by a 30-lb desktop opaque projector (remember those?) can now be done by a lightweight handhold, slightly more that half the size of the laptop keyboard on which I’m typing. Father simply holds the device over the page of the sacramentry and slowly slides it down the column of text, highlighting a bar or two at a time in the display field.

    One of the lectors in our parish is blind. She uses a VoiceNote (essentially, a keyboard without a screen, that has some simple word-processing capacity (among other capacities)). Download the appropriate reading as a text file (from the USCCB site, to name one source), read it and practice reading it aloud before going to church (something all lectors should do anyway), listen on a bud earphone that nobody can see from further than 15 feet from the anbo, and read it out to the people. Nobody can see the VoiceNote, either (from the pews).

    The commission for the blind in his state should be able to help him find adaptive technology.

  13. Fr Edward says:

    I think it was the case that blind priests would memorize and offer the Mass of our Lady. Certainly Cardinal Newman did this when he went nearly blind towards the end of his life.

  14. Fr Edward: Indeed. I used to think about that in terms of the capture or imprisonment of priests in times of persecution.

  15. Konrad says:

    In my parish (Regensburg, Germany) exists one exemplar of the afore mentioned “Missale Caecutientium”. It’s from 1927. Our pastor already pondered giving it to Mgr. Georg Ratzinger, but he was told that the Pope’s brother’s vision is too bad even for large print missals. So it’s still around in the sacristy. And when I say large print – it’s really large: the canon letters measure about 1 inch! I have to go to church soon for mounting the thanksgiving arrangement, so I shall see if I shoot some photos of this missal.

  16. Charivari Rob says:


    My wife suggests the following might be worth checking out:

    Xavier Society for the Blind
    154 E. 23rd St.
    New York, NY 10010
    (212) 473-7800
    Provides materials, in accessible formats, for those interested in the Catholic religion


    Project Gutenberg


  17. Father J says:


    I have seen on the internet only one copy of the Missale Caecutientium that was for sale, and it was nearly 600 Euro. That would be putting it close to the $1,000USD mark, which is very cost prohibative for me now. I wish liturgical printing companies would consider us visually impaired priests again as they did so long ago when the Missale Caecutientium was printed.

  18. Konrad says:

    As promised, I’m posting a link to the photos I shot today:

  19. Father J says:

    Thank you, Konrad. It is a very handsome looking Missal.

    Do you know where one of these can be gained affordably?

    Fr. J

  20. Konrad says:

    @Fr. J.

    Dear Father,

    frankly I do not know another exemplar of these missals. When we (we’re two new sacristans in the parish, both of us sympathetic to the “old mass”) rediscovered the parish’s treasures (including Rituale Romanum [1898], breviaries, Holy Week from 1956 etc..) in cardboxes in the attic, at first view no one knew what this missal was good for until I realised that caecutiens came from caecus.

    I’m glad that our antecessors had the “old stuff” not thrown out, but only moved into the attic. We found the old chasubles and accessories, too: http://www.pfarrei-sallern.de/img/Messgewand/

    Unfortunately our bishop ordered that no parish is allowed to sell its belongings, not even to priests.

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