THE P RTAL November 2017 Page 17 Using Smartphones and Tablets to aid prayer A modern question is pondered by Donato Tallo H is Eminence Robert, Cardinal Sarah, is the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. His Eminence, who is originally from Guinea and was ordained to the priesthood in 1969, has demonstrated that he is certainly a man of deep faith. He is someone who has done a great deal to defend both reverence and beauty in liturgical practices as well as being a strong defender of traditional Catholic liturgy and the celebration of ad orientem Mass. Moreover, Cardinal Sarah has been a strong voice in the Roman Curia on many important matters and has certainly been very vocal on matters of both social justice and traditional Catholic teaching. At a recent conference in Rome in September, Cardinal Sarah made a comment that subsequently sparked a great deal of debate. The address delivered by the Cardinal at the conference was entitled ‘Silence and the Primacy of God in the Sacred Liturgy’, during which the Cardinal said, “Perhaps it is very practical to pray the breviary with my own mobile phone or tablet but it is not worthy; it desacralises prayer”. be able to use the app. While of course there always is the possibility of distractions when praying using a phone it is important to examine the matter from the other perspective and consider that using a breviary does not mean that distractions won’t be present when a person is praying. Whenever I stop to pray using the app on my phone I always put my phone into airplane mode, meaning I will receive no incoming messages or communications while airplane mode is activated. All of us should be concerned with how we are internally preparing ourselves for prayer and whether we are holding a smartphone or a breviary as our aid to a Sacred Office, this should not influence how we mentally and emotionally approach our prayers if we close ourselves off to distractions and open our hearts to God. Smartphones and tablets really have changed the world and of course there are arguments that are in support of them and others that are not. With regard to smartphones however, it is clear that at one point a phone was simply just that - a phone - a device used to call and speak to another person, but now of course smartphones play an important part of many people’s lives. Smartphones for many people are not just phones, as well as being devices used to communicate with people either by calling, texting or other messaging apps many people use their smartphones for a range of other purposes in life some of which include e-mails, browsing the Internet, shopping, As someone who leads a busy life, the ease of having, banking, managing travel, reading the news, weather and knowing that I have, an appropriately approved forecasts and checking sport results to name but a few. and easy to navigate app on my smartphone with the Moreover, for many people their smartphones are also Liturgy of the Hours, Mass readings and a lot more their cameras, alarm clocks, diary and map, many people besides on it is simply fantastic. My smartphone goes also use their phones to watch videos, listen to the radio everywhere with me, I am never without it and, in all and access a range of media and social networks. honesty, it would not be practical or easy for me to carry my breviary around with me everywhere that I go. The Church needs to be encouraging prayer and devotion to God especially in our secular and narcissistic By having an app on my phone that is liturgically world, which can be incredibly toxic to all people but correct and laid out simply but clearly, I am able to especially the young. I feel the use of approved and pray the Liturgy of the Hours wherever I may be as my appropriate liturgical apps should be promoted and phone is always with me, I don’t even need a signal to ... continued at the foot of page 22 Ø Since reading this comment, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting and pondering on this issue. Cardinal Sarah is indeed a very wise man; he is very supportive of the Ordinariate and is also someone who I personally find very inspirational, it is clear that within his ministry he is certainly concerned with the salvation of souls. However, as someone who uses an app on my smart phone in order to pray the Sacred Offices and read the Daily Mass readings, I personally beg to differ with His Eminence on this matter, but of course in a respectful and polite manner.