iPad at the altar

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: What are your thoughts about the use of an iPad with iBreviary by the celebrant during Mass–especially for sight-impaired priests in settings that are less than ideal–e.g. celebrating Mass in a nursing home on a table of standard height.


A: Personally, I have no problem with an iPad at the altar especially for the reason you give. However, some time ago the New Zealand Bishops forbade priests to do that. I don’t know if they’re still of the same view.

In truth, the liturgical books are themselves symbols within the Roman Rite. Their use demonstrates a faithfulness to traditions and the dignity of the words that they contain. You can detect the disconnection in the event that a deacon or priest proclaims the gospel from a tablet. (He’s supposed to kiss the book after proclaiming the word.) Kissing an electronic device can symbolize any number of meanings, including some not at all appropriate.

Furthermore, the actual missal permits more options than the apps typically offer. I’m sure that these will get more and more refined, but sometimes the use of an app for prayer limits one’s choices.