In many parts of the world this is a strange and disturbing time. Everyone’s situation is different, everyone’s needs are different. It is impossible to say the right thing to everyone (or even to anyone) in a newsletter that is sent out to thousands of anonymous addresses. But let me say two things.
First, at a time when populations are being epidemiologically added, multiplied, counted, almost (it seems) weighed, remember that you are not “1.0 units of population”. You are a person called into being uniquely by God because without you, the masterwork of Creation in all its splendour would have had something missing.
Second, you have been anointed a priest, and anointed a prophet, and anointed a king. It took place a long time ago at your baptism and you were probably not paying attention, but it did happen and now is the time to live those anointings.
As priest, you can open yourself to those you come across, and bear witness to the infinite value of their being and to the love of God for them. You can be there for them and with them, you can be quiet together, or even listen. There is nothing like an open heart and a safe pair of ears.
As prophet, your voice must not be embarrassed to tell of the wonders of the Lord. Do not keep the truth of your faith secret for fear of derision. As long as people do not feel they are being preached at, you will find them remarkably tolerant. Do not expect the seed to grow before your eyes – that is God’s job done in God’s time – but do at least sow and scatter it.
As king – to see how to live your anointing, see first what a king is. Think of a gardener who is at the service of his plants and his crops, which he feeds and weeds and waters; then think of a king who at the service of everybody, keeping them safe and orderly free from want. The gardener serves whoever owns the garden; the king serves whoever owns the universe. Whoever and wherever you are, you are in some sense king of something. And we are all of us servants of each other. The more we do it, the easier it becomes.
When you can’t get to Mass
Someone told me today that she finds it oddly disquieting, when Sunday morning comes round and she is not planning to go to Mass because she never does, to find there is no Mass to go to! Of course if you are in the habit, is is more disquieting still. So please remember that the Mass readings are always there in Universalis – go to universalis.com to find them, and tell all your friends to do the same.
The pattern of many people’s days has been turned upside down and inside out, with complete rearrangements in terms of both time and place. A structured prayer life help to give time back its shape; but don’t bite off more than you can chew. What about Lauds (Morning Prayer) in the morning and Compline (Night Prayer) last thing at night?
If you have the Universalis app, you can also pray the Rosary, and listen to it as well (the recording was made by the pupils and monastic community at Downside).
Sometimes, in times of stress, it is hard to “let go” enough to be able to pray. In that case, you will find that the Spiritual Reading page in the Universalis app is not liturgical at all: it is simply daily teachings and reflections of wise and holy people from every period in history. Try it.
Parish web sites
Some parishes have been in touch asking if they can use our pages to give Mass readings to their parishioners. Our page about this is here.
Lent in Isolation
The people who did the Newman Canonisation web site last year have come up with Lent in Isolation, a more active kind of spiritual resource for people who cannot go out to church. It is only just starting, but have a look at it.
News about Universalis
There are some more instructional videos on how to use the Universalis apps on Android and iPhone/iPad, and you will find them in the apps themselves: tap the screen, go to the Information menu, and you will see a command labelled “Video Instructions”.
Since more of you may be thinking of listening to the Hours or the Mass readings, we have adjusted the subscriptions so that they all give you an introductory free month for trying them out and getting into the habit. universalis.com has the details.
Just in time for this newsletter, one of our users, Adrienne Chalmers, has produced audio instructions for blind people who want to use Universalis with VoiceOver on the iPhone. In her first recording she concentrates on getting into the app and going to the Rosary page. The instructions can be found as part of the blog post at https://universalis.wordpress.com/2020/03/22/praying-the-rosary/