Saturday, April 27, 2013

Catholic In Me Is Not Tech Ready

To my son Tommy,

I like to follow along.  Give me a paper map on a road trip that I am not driving and over half my time is spent looking down and making sure I know where we are on that map.  If you have a song with some type of video enhancement, give me the words and a bouncing ball and even if I don't sing I follow along.  If I go to a baseball game, half my time is spent in the program following along with each player or keeping score on the scoring page.  When a person says "and if you are following along in the book, turn to page..." such and such, I am already there.  This is part of my make up and part of who I am.

I am also a geek and a nerd and a techy and a computer guy.  I love apps and software and tech devices and gadgets.  I no longer prefer a paper map because the map on the ipad does the following along for me.  Sure I still look down and follow along but it has cut my time doing so in half at least.  I have my music apps set to go get the lyrics where possible and display them to me.  Even audio books I have set to show the text as well.

And of course along with those aspects of who I am, I am Catholic.  The problem is the missalette at our church doesn't contain the readings for the daily mass only for the Sunday mass.  So if I want to follow along with the readings, I have to bring another tool, like a Bible.  But today I thought I'd try combining my three parts (tech nerd and follow-along-er and Catholic) and bring in my iPad to church.  A couple weeks ago in a search for Saint of the Day or for some reference to the Code of Canon Law, I had found a free app called Laudate by Aycka Soft which has the Order of the Mass mixed in with the proper daily readings and unlike many of the religious apps out there is specifically for Catholics and was determined to try it out in church.

I made sure my iPad was silent before I went in today.  I shoved it under my vest as if I was smuggling in contraband.  I told myself it was so no one else would be distracted by my experiment, but perhaps that was not the only reason I was apprehensive.  Because I was carrying this under my vest it delayed my genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament.  Normally I do this as soon as I enter especially on Saturdays where the Adoration is happening.  This time I waited till I found my pew.  I sat near the back, only a few rows from the last again to not distract many.  I left the tablet on the pew for the Benediction because even our own missalette differs in certain words or translations that St. Agnes parish uses for the Benediction so you have to grab a flyer when you come in (unless of course your hands are hiding an ipad under you vest)  With Benediction done, soon after mass started.

I pulled up my app with the order of mass with the readings and found the first problem.  I had to go to the missalette for the entrance antiphon which was absent from the app.  I assume whoever wrote the app goes to a church where they always sing the entrance prayer.  With a quick switch and switch back, I was determined to continue and follow along with the order of the mass.  Father Joe stumbled a bit over the words and the order of the Penitential Act, which I of course attributed to him noticing me all the way in the back with an iPad and thinking "Is that jerk really checking his email during my service?" which I suppose could be another temptation if I got accustomed to bringing my iPad into church but for now was the farthest from my mind.

We got to the readings and the app was actually following along very smoothly and more importantly correctly.  It had the right first reading and it was the right version.  It had the right Psalms as well, which is another thing missing from the missal.  It didn't have the little prayer in between the Alleluias before the Gospel but it had everything else and got the Gospel correct.  It was after this that I finally put the iPad down and stopped following along thus ending my experiment.

I have no doubt that in the future missalettes in the pews will be replaced with tablets as we move forward.  I imagine older people with trouble with eyes and ears being able to increase the size of their text so they can see it and follow along enhancing their church experience.  I imagine churches saving tons of money on books and such with a BYOD (bring your own device) policy.  I also believe that the potential problems (such as email checking or game play) can be overcome and are not deal breakers to our religion going forward in the tech world.  I just don't think I am ready to lead this charge and don't think our parish is ready for it either.

The app Laudate  is good tool and source even if it doesn't make it into mass with me.  I have found a couple other websites and apps throughout the years (like ) that have used one part of my person (the nerd part) to enhance another part of my person (the Catholic part) and always am on the lookout for good options though I believe everyone has to have a very critical eye on apps and websites and not blindly accept their accuracy or teachings without having a priest or diocese or someone take a look and make sure they are okay.  Maybe in the future we will have tablets and Diocesan approved apps but that is something that your generation will be more involved in than my generation.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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