Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Catholic? Understand Technology? Want to Make a Lot of Money?

Here is something I've been kicking around for a few months, and an email today from a St. Malachy parishioner inspired me to throw this idea out there.

With the new translation, song books, inserts, etc. now more than ever Catholics are juggling worship aids.

I've also realized, as a baby priest, how much conversion could take place if people could more easily follow the words being said at Mass. As a priest, especially during the Eucharistic prayer, I try to go slow (but not monotonously slow) in order for people to process the words, but I know from my own experience as a seminarian that the ability to follow along greatly increases the internalization of the prayers being lifted up at Mass.

The "daily Missal" is nice if yo can afford the 55 dollar cost. I had one in the seminary, and it was a big step forward for me with regards to my "praying the Mass" as opposed to "going to Mass." The downside of the "daily Missal" is that you have to know how to navigate it. The typical daily Missal is about 2,000 pages, and so you have to know how to find the prayers for the day on your own. Often times which Eucharistic Prayer will be used isn't known until the priest starts.

The other problem with a daily Missal is that you still need a separate book for songs.

Here's how someone could make a lot of money.

Make a website where a priest can click on a couple of options for the weekend (which preface, which Eucharistic Prayer, which hymns) and then, based on those, Every single word and song could be emailed as a pdf to the entire parish. The parishioners could then put them on their cell phones/Kindles/Ipads or print them off and bring the document in.

I know the "hymn" part might be an issue, and I'm no guru of copyright laws, but 99% of the parishioners don't need the actual hymn sheets with notes - at Ritter we just put the words to the hymns in our programs, and because so many people can't read music anyway, it works.

We've also learned at Ritter that it is HIGHLY more likely that people will follow along if everything is in one place. For our first Mass with the new translation, we put every word in our program and paid a little extra for the printing, but it was TOTALLY worth it. You could FEEL the interior participation of the kids and you could look out and see them following along throughout the entire Mass. People are curious and want to follow, but our Catholic parishes often make it very hard to follow along. Imagine being a guest for a weekend as well. Would you have any idea where to go to in order to follow along?

If you know of someone with some business/technology savvy who would be interested, pass this proposal on to them. I'd be happy to connect with the person and share more ideas.

I would love it if parishioners could have an easy way to follow along with the words of the Mass; what a way to encourage interior active participation!!!!


  1. Their definitely could be some copyright issue especially w/regard to the music. That would have to be checked out. The other issue is that even in my own parish, i don't think there are that many members with email addresses that the rectory has handy. If this is done as a handout at every Mass, that's a lot of 'trees'. I think instead of an email that gets sent, perhaps a website link on each parish website where people could click on the PDF file and download it. That would take care of the rectory needing to cull the email addresses of the parishioners.

  2. And who would pay the coordinator for doing this? Would it end up just being part of the secretary's job at the rectory level? Also meant to type 'there', not 'their' ;-)

  3. I am no liturgical prude, but I'm not sure it's a good idea to encourage parishioners to have their electronic devices in front of their faces during Mass. You know how we multi-task these days; it could be pretty tempting to slip over to Facebook during the homily...

  4. I'm not a techie, but I assume this can't be too difficult to accomplish. iBreviary has something similar for iPhones and Androids. as does Divinum Officium. I have attended Mass at the Cathedral downtown (Dallas) on Feast days and they print a handout that includes the responsorial psalms, the sung parts of the Mass and hymns sung.

    Knowing the Catholic "aversion" to change, you may want to start off with including in your bulletin or in the signage used to inform the people of which hymns will be sung (I can't remember how it is done at St. Malachy's) which Eucharistic Prayer will be used during the Mass. If a Cantor is used, he/she could mention the Eucharistic Prayer that will be used when he/she mentions the opening hymn.

    Another suggestion: Encourage people to purchase the New Missal. Maybe have a generous benfactor subsidize the price so that it can be purchased at a discount thru the Parish. Or work with a distributor/publisher to see if you could work out a discount. Maybe a commitment of so many missals for a $10 discount per missal. Then offer a short class on how to use the missal. I attend EF Mass in Dallas and during the summer a visiting seminarian offered classes on how to use the 1962 Missal. Personally, I recommend that every Catholic should get a missal, regardless of which Mass (EF or OF)is attended. Missals for both include excellent information on the Faith, numerous prayers and devotions.

  5. This is right up my ally. Pus I just started a new domain/project that this could fit. Would love to talk to you about writing for our new blog.

    The Catholic Jedi

  6. I can get started on this one and already have a good vision of how it could work, both for the priest and for the parishioners...

  7. Concerns about people switching over to Facebook are warranted, but the number of people in the future who are going to call themselves Catholic and be the type to check Facebook during Mass will be, in my estimation, on a rapid descent.

    Kevin - I agree with a campaign to get parishioners to buy the Missals. I know of several priests in the Archdiocese who purchased them in bulk and are selling the books themselves. It is a great move in the right direction. I also think there are some who won't fiddle with flipping back and forth.

    Another option in all of this are hymnals coming out (like a hymnal called "Vatican II Hymnal") that has everything in one book as well.

    Catholic Jedi - let me know about the blog thing

  8. Fr. Hollowell:

    I did some research and found the New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal and Hymnal - 2012 Edition, available for only $4.95. According to one of the reviews, there is "no flipping." ;)

    St. Joseph Sunday Missal

    I've ordered from them numerous times in the past and have been very satisfied with the quality of their service and goods.

  9. Kevin,

    This is certainly a good option for people looking to engage the readings ahead of time, which is an awesome idea.

    I think what this Missal does not include is the Eucharistic Prayers and the Prefaces, which I think would also be very important to get the people involved with as well

  10. Awesome idea father! I think I may know a company that could assist. Let me talk to someone at transfigured.com

  11. Here is an idea that Msgr. Philip Reilly has come up with. We will be presenting this to the POPE. "We Want To Be Taught!" www.wewanttobetaught.com. It's aim is to get the Catechism inserted in the Mass!