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Review of Traditional Latin Mass Sunday Missal with Kyriale (Kindle Edition)

7 August, 2014 0 Comments

Reviewed by Lyle Dunne

Traditional Latin Mass Sunday Missal with Kyriale (Kindle Edition)
Patrimonium Publishing, Sydney, 2013; $5.85; also available in Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

Traditional Latin Mass Ordinary and Kyriale (Kindle Edition)
Patrimonium Publishing, Sydney, 2013; $3.99.

At the price, any traditionalist Kindle-owner should have one.

I’m not, to say the least, an enthusiastic adopter of new technology, but I find my Kindle very useful, especially when travelling, and a particular boon to those happy few who appreciate classic (or at least out-of-copyright) literature and are not total Luddites. It’s amazing how well technology and tradition mesh, sometimes. (Look at Oriens!)

The Full Missal

For example, I recently bought the complete works of RL Stevenson for about $3, after trying the free sample: Kidnapped, Treasure Island, The Black Arrow, and Dr Jekyll AND Mr Hyde!

In truth I’d been thinking about the idea of a Kindle Missal for a while, before I discovered it existed. I even had an idea about how I’d do it: a weekly subscription, which would contain both ordinary and propers, integrated so one didn’t have to keep swapping from one to the other – partly because I find this distracting, and partly because the Kindle doesn’t have coloured ribbons.

I realise I’m here revealing something of my approach to praying the Mass: I’ve never really cast off the training wheels of the written text. I try to read every word of the propers and ordinary, including the priest’s prayers, even though I often get out of sync in the Canon. I’m not saying it’s the only or even the best way, but it’s where I live. So this review reflects the view of the print-fixated.

This edition, which I’ve been using sporadically for a year or so, has taken an approach that is much less labour-intensive (for the producers), and thus more cost-effective. It follows the format of a printed missal for the ordinary and propers, with “hotlinks” to the kyriale and prefaces, communicantes and hanc igitur. (I suspect that the writers are much much focussed on the kyriale than I am.)

This works fairly well for tracking through the ordinary, and using hotlinks and the “back” button to dip into and out of the kyriale etc. (A note to already-overworked bulletin editors: would it be too hard to list which setting the choir are using on any given Sunday?) So one can toggle between ordinary and kyriale (etc), or propers and kyriale, but switching between ordinary and propers is problematic. Sometimes the back button works; often it throws you out of the Missal altogether.

In the absence of coloured ribbons, one has to find one’s way back via the table of contents, which at this end of the liturgical year involves a distracting amount of scrolling.

(In fairness, I have to say the Kindle reviewers of this missal seem to have no such difficulty, so perhaps it’s just me.)

Of course, if you’re at a Sunday Mass in an English-speaking country, you can supplement it with the bulletin for the readings and propers.

Ideally, I was thinking, I’d like to have access to a few favourite prayers before communion, and for thanksgiving; but paradoxically, this might require a separate prayer-book, as it’s easier to flip between two books (since Kindle keeps its thumb in the page) than two sections of one. Then it struck me that perhaps I needed the ordinary and kyriale as a separate book from the propers. But of course Patrimonium has the very thing, the Traditional Latin Mass Ordinary and Kyriale, so that should make life a little easier.

Ordinary and Kyriale

This latter publication, and the latest version of the full Missal, have simplified the hotlinks to the Kyriale, just using the numbers of the Masses (“XI”) rather than, say, “Mass XI – for Sundays throughout the year: Orbis factor”. This saves a page or two each time, but I find that the fat-fingered can’t find Mass V reliably without increasing the font size to about two words per line.

A further limitation is that the Kindle doesn’t support the two-column format generally used in Latin-English missals, nor the use of colour, so Latin and English appear as alternative paragraphs, the latter in smaller font, indented and in brackets; rubrics are presented in a smaller font again, in italics.  I think this is the best possible approach, and really only a very minor limitation.

I should note that there are other Kindle traditional Missals available, which are basically scanned versions of paper missals – in one case, an 1806 version; these get a big thumbs-down from reviewers, though they may be better than nothing. (The low cost of Kindle publishing, and frankly the lack of quality control by Amazon, means there’s some very dodgy stuff out there at the cheap end of the market. The idea seems to be that if the 99c Divine Comedy turns out not to be the translation advertised, who’s going to bother complaining? Answer: reviewers. Always read the reviews.)

I also note the New Zealand Bishops in 2012 banned the use of electronic missals by clergy during Mass; I’m talking about a missal for the laity. Some traditionalists assume there’s a blanket ban. (Some of us don’t like novelty. Who knew?) I’ve seen arguments online that it’s disrespectful. Seriously. (Someone countered with a description of children chewing hymnals.) If you meet such objections, point out the great advantage of adjustable print size for those with impaired vision – a side-effect of motes.

As to scandal – yes, I could be reading anything. I’ve been known to consult St Theresa of Avila during foreign sermons. But then, I could be thinking anything. Exhausting, this brother-keeping; best left to Experts.

In summary, this is an important development, of which Aussies should be proud: it’s a potential boon to the entire traditional movement. It may not be a complete substitute for a paper Missal, largely due to the limitations of the medium (no, Holy Cards don’t fall out and remind you to pray for people) but it’s a valuable supplement.

At the price, any traditionalist Kindle-owner should have one. I suspect you may find you also want the separate Ordinary – but you’re still up for less than $10 in total.

In coming weeks I hope to look at electronic missals on other media, and the E-breviary. If anyone would like to review a favourite (or an un-favourite), drop me a line. But, weak reed that I am, I have a prejudice in favour of a machine that doesn’t do email, facebook or text messages.

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