Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ascension, Ipod, Soundtracks and Prayer

I'm writing another article for Catholic Digest, this time about how the internet and all related gadgets can help our prayer life (e.g. online breviaries) or hinder it (we spend so much time on the internet surfing good catholic websites that we don't have time to pray).

I'd love your comments on this. How has living on the "digital continent" helped you? Or does it keep you from prayer at times? If the latter, what is the solution? A digital fast?(how often and  for how long?) Do online prayer aids help give you quality prayer time, or does making prayer one more chunk of time spent  screen-staring leave you feeling something isn't quite right with it?

Your thoughts please!  I assume permission to publish them, by the way. I'll use just your first name, or make up a pseudonym for anyone with  usernames that don't sound like ordinary names.

As we wind down the feast of the Ascension of the Lord,( or head toward  it depending on what diocese you live in)  I'll share my digital prayer experience this evening. I am now using my new ipod touch, rather than the Kindle, for the Liturgy of the Hours. I realized today  that my music playlist will keep going while I use other apps, so...tonight I said Evening Prayer II for  Ascension Thursday with the theme music for the 1961 biblical epic King of Kings as a background. This particular piece of music always moves me. It helps me to "see" Jesus better than almost any other piece of music, with the possible exception of Handel's Messiah. This is a slightly embarrassing admission, because I was trained in classical music, and therefore should have the good  taste to get my religious/emotional highs from the works of Bach, Palestrina, Gregorian chant, etc. But somehow, nothing sends me to the foyer of heaven quite as well as this piece of Hollywood bravura. Here's a bit from YouTube. The music is easier to hear starting around 00:44. The actual movie is somewhat less inspiring to me than the music, except for evoking childhood nostalgia. But the footage below is appropriate for today's feast:


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  2. When I first discovered digital prayer aids (divine office app, rosary apps, etc.) I was a little put off by the whole idea. I downloaded them for convenience when traveling but I didn't feel right using them at home--and NEVER in church! It's taken me a few years of living with these prayer aids to really take to them. I fully admit to using the divine office app so much that my paper breviary is weeks behind. But the app makes it so easy to jump right into the prayer, without worrying about flipping and checking page numbers--that particular distraction is out of the equation.
    With electronic aids, though, it's easy to get "off topic." I still rarely pull out my phone in church to use a prayer app, because it would be so tempting to check my email or facebook. Even at home, the transition from a prayer activity to anything else takes a fraction of a second, and in some ways, I do think that can ruin the moment.
    It's all about balance, really, and that's probably something that will challenge me throughout my whole life in one way or another.

  3. Thanks! I might be using some of your remarks in the article. You might become one of my regular, trusted sources!