Handheld Devices at Mass & Adoration

It’s 2010 and now we have a plethora of handheld devices. Sometimes these cause great distractions during Mass and Adoration. However, I wanted to offer the following for people’s opinions and start a dialogue;

  1. Rather than follow along on a paperback missal, my wife follows the Mass using an application on her iPod Touch. In addition to the usual missal stuff, she also has several Bibles on there so she can look up different translations when the Priest quotes Scriptures during the homily (or if there’s a reading that week that she wants to look into more). It also lets her take notes and things like that. And, because there’s no Internet in the Church, there’s no online activity. It’s essentially a digital book.

Personally, so long as it’s be used as a digital book and it doesn’t distract people (which is quite easy, we usually sit behind everyone) I have no problem with this. With tablets (iPad) becoming more popular we might even see more of this.

  1. After visiting my favorite Priest for Reconciliation, I was given an interesting penance; three hours of Adoration a week for three months. For someone with ADHD and doesn’t have the Spiritual Gift of Intercessory Prayer (the gift to pray for hours on end), this is one difficult penance. What I have started doing while being at the Adoration chapel is bringing an mp3 player with me which has the musical version of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I pray along with it which allows me to go at a nice slow pace without being distracted by something shiny (happens often). I’m also considering adding some audio books as well, perhaps even an audio Bible.

Personally, so long as it isn’t distracting towards others, I see no problem with this.


Wow! That’s whopper! A lot more than the usual “three and three”…


As for bringing an iPAD, iPOD, or iPOOP to church, I think that would open the floodgates to all sorts of electronic equipment abuse. Bad enough that we need to remind everyone to shut off or silence their cell phones before Mass begins… don’t even think about the World Series or the Super Bowl.

I’d like to see a “cell-free” zone created in church during Mass.

Being an old-time “greenie” (and happy owner of a nook), I’m all for electronic readers, and had wondered myself if the new missal will be available for them. But I understand ponyguy’s concern about the floodgates.

Really, though, people who aren’t going to pay attention, aren’t going to pay attention. Doesn’t matter whether they have an iPad, a smartphone, or just stare at the wall. Banning hand-held devices won’t stop them from reading the bulletin during the homily, either. :shrug:

Father Z had an article on this last week

iPad replacing altar Missal?

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. . . .

when i got my first web-enabled smart phone with slide-out keyboard, i was excited bringing it to PREP class, and i was telling my class about it that i can access the online CCC, as this was weeks before being given the book version (i still prefer the online version, easier to search)

of course, why can’t we bring technology into mass? in the Philippines where missals get “lost” all the time, a lot of parishes equipped themselves with projectors for the prayers and hymns. and this started like 20 years ago when projectors first became common.

so yes, why not? it would be great if missals can be accessed as an app or though a website

I tend to be too easily distracted by any manner of gadget so I even stopped taking my missal to Mass; I find I now pay closer attention to the mass. Any electronic device in my hands would likely negate my attendance at mass if I was honest about it.

When we finally get around to the new translation and provided the price is reasonable, I will probably buy a new missal to help me through the revised prayers.

Actually, you don’t need to spend the money just yet in order to learn the prayers,. The Ordinary of the Mass, which has already received recognitio from the Holy See, can be found here:


Inasmuch as I read Fr. Z’s account, this was an extreme, emergency case. I do not think that handheld electrical devices such as ipads and i-phones should be used during the Mass, even though there are apps for missals and such. I don’t think that these apps were meant for actual use in the church during Mass, perhaps as a prepatory aid, but, not during the liturgy itself.

Thanks for the link, I’ll simply download the translation.

I think it has to be something each has to determine for himself, until the Church comments on it, especially as regards to Adoration. I also will add that one should be willing to accommodate a priest’ s request on this, if he thinks a ban of something is needed. It is his call first.

Interesting topic.

I too believe that these devices will become more and more intertwined into the fabric of our society.

Are they problematic? Depends. Cell phones are not problematic at mass if they are kept on silent or on vibrate and if the user doesn’t go checking his messages during mass if it does vibrate.

Same with other such devices. As long as they’re used just for that particular app (missal, rosary, etc.) and are not distracting to others, why not?

I agree with you except for when you said, “and if the user doesn’t go checking his messages during mass if it does vibrate.”

I used to work a job that when I was on-call I had to respond to the call within 15 minutes so I had to check all messages as they came in to determine if they fell within that time limit. If they did I would leave the Church to call in, if they didn’t I would stay.

How does a missal on an electronic device differ from a missal that is in a book? Why is one acceptable to use and the other not?

At the beginning of the greeting, before the entrance, the greeter requests that all electronic devices be turned off and that we turn and greet each other. I realize the intent is to eliminate cell phone rings during Mass but the request specifically states all devices.

i’m a techie and i think this is a great idea. but i also see the side that can be abused. most electronics now have full capabilites including the internet. how do you know one person is flipping through an e-Missal instead of Facebook during mass? do we implement deadzones inside the church? but how about the doctors, policemen, firemen, etc who come to mass and may need to be called in?

It has been a rare occasion I have needed my phone on silent, but I know of others that do. Using a cell signal blocker is not legal in the U.S. anyway. I think the announcement is a good idea, and then let people use their common sense if they need to go silent rather than off.

i’m thinking of someone using an iPad for example to read an eMissal
whats preventing the next person with an iPad to go to Facebook for instance?
i’m not against cellphones as i know there are people who need them like the ones i mentioned.

The electronic device, in my opinion, carries a greater means of temptation to go off into other sites that are not necessarily religious. Thus, one could conceivably go to Facebook, myspace of twitter. Unfortunately, I’ve seen the kids with iphones texting during the homily, not using the Missal app to follow along.

These devices are also extremely distracting to those sitting within view of these devices. They differ from paper distractions (such as a child or adult reading a non-religious book) in that electronics have visual dimensions that paper does not. Electronics are backlit, and the images are not static. They are much more difficult to just ignore.

Can there be one moment in everyone’s week to divest ourselves of electronic accessories? As our parish says, “God does not need a cell phone {or fill-in-the-blank electronic device) to reach you.”

He is there naked in the Blessed Sacrament. Let us undress ourselves and adore and listen.

The only reason they should have such devices out during the homily is to take notes and read the relevant Scripture passages that the Priest may be quoting (my wife does this), or perhaps go over the reading again. Of course, the kids (if approached) may ask why you were paying attention to them and looking at the iPhone screens and not listening to the Priest. The touchscreens are designed as such they make no sound, so all you’ll really see is just some finger movements.

The temptation is going to be there anyway even if you take away handheld devices. As someone else said, they’ll distract themselves with songbooks and conventional missals, using them in a distracted manner. As someone with ADHD, I would know :slight_smile: Are we going to remove those books as well?

Meanwhile a nook, kindle, and other e-readers can be very limited in their scope. If they do not connect to something like a 3G network there will be no Twitter/Texting/Facebook. There is a version of the iPad like this, and the conventional iPod Touch is like this as well. So unless the Church has an unsecured wireless network available (very, very very dumb if they did) those people wouldn’t be able to surf on the Internet.

As someone who typically gets Nintendo devices (such as the DS), the only way this is really applicable to me is playing audio files using headphones (at reasonable volumes of course) while at the Adoration Chapel, which I’m assuming due to the total lack of responses on that thus far everyone is fine with.

Of course, considering I placed my credentials in my signature here it should come as no surprise I’m pro-technology.

It’s times like these that I wish I was “in charge” (most of the time… thank G-d I’m NOT lol).

Anyway, Church’s could replace their missals with ipads (in a decade or two, when the price goes down a lot). These ipads could be downloaded to feature ONLY the Mass of the day, as well as have different versions of the Bible, CCC, and other books on Catholicism as well as Church documents. With ONLY THESE on the ipad, the need to buy missal after missal (for the pews) is non existant. Furthermore, one now has easy access to them during Adoration or private prayer time. A simple security system could be installed on them so that if they left the Church building an alarm would go off. Furthermore, they could display the music for Mass (all in real time, meaning that as it’s being said or being sung or being read it could/would appear on the ipad like device).

And let’s not get started on the fact that the priest’s homilies could be sent to people to read as he’d saying it (for the deaf) or to their e-mail in case they want to read it when they get home.

This could EASILY be done, and it wouldn’t be too expensive for a Church either (especially in the long term). All it would take is someone to start the company that had some money (I don’t, so I can’t, lol).

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