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  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. (e.g. Mr.CelticHunkyCoolness, AthanasiusAgainsttheWorld, etc.)

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 recent digital prayer experience from Thusday evening. I am now using my new ipod touch, rather than the Kindle, for the Liturgy of the Hours. I realized   that my music playlist will keep going while I use other apps, so… 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 vestibule  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. But the footage below is appropriate for the feast of the Ascension:



Daria Sockey


Daria Sockey is a freelance writer from western Pennsylvania. Her articles have appeared in many Catholic publications. She authored several of the original Ignatius Press Faith and Life catechisms in the 1980s, and more recently wrote five study guides for saints' lives DVDs distributed by Ignatius Press. She now writes regularly for the newly revamped Catholic Digest. Her newest book, The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, will be published by Servant Books this spring. Feel Free to email her at

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  • I prefer to use a physical Bible rather than rely on the internet, except when I travel. That’s when I love it that I can check the readings for the day instead of lugging my 5 lbs. New Jerusalem Bible across boundaries.

    I have downloaded rosary apps on my iPhone, but never use them because I’ve memorized the decades. I prefer praying the Rosary with my eyes closed to focus better than meditating on an image. Being a visual person, even Catholic art can distract me easily.

  • Pargontwin

    There’s something about computers in general that can be very addictive.  I’m an inveterate gamer, and I find I quite literally have to tear myself away, or I’d keep going until all hours of the night.  My solution to this was to dip into my long-unused military discipline and not even turn on the computer until all my work was done, and then only allow myself a certain amount of time online.  When the alarm goes off, that’s it. 

    I tried the Liturgy of the Hours online once; it left me feeling like something was definitely “off” about doing it that way.  So much of my screen-time is for pleasure or research (which, for me, is another form of pleasure) that reading the psalms from that same screen just doesn’t feel like prayer.  For some things, you just can’t replace hardcopy.

  • S.

    I got the Universalis app for my iPhone, and I love it.  It is the equivalent of the full 4-volume set.  I don’t have to flip around to different sections.  I don’t have to haul my breviary around with me anymore.  The mass is in there, too.  Ultra convenient.

    I also like Pandora Radio.  They have various types of sacred music in their library, so I can listen to that as background music while I work if I want to.

  • mallys

    I have iBreviary on my iPod. It is marvelous for me, since my arthritis sometimes makes it difficult to deal with heavy books. Ditto 3 Bible translations, CCC on Kindle, etc. Makes going to Bible study much easier — it is all in my purse instead of a big bag of books. I love being able to go a little earlier to daily Mass and pray the office in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament!

  • Ronald Moffat

    Recently, I attended Mass at a parish I don’t often visit, and discovered they had put up two EXTRA large TV screens, one on each side of the sanctuary.  That Mass was a disaster!  To begin with, the sanctuary space is more or less circular so most of the people in attendance were both under and behind both the screens; it was extremely distracting trying to view one or the other of them in order to see what was being displayed.  Then, there were two priests and a deacon at the altar and the celebrant kept directing the others attention to one of the screens so that they would follow along with the whatever text was up there, rather than refer to the song books.  About 5 minutes of this and whatever concentration I might have had going into the Mass was gone.  I kept asking myself, is there no place where the long arm of electronic media doesn’t reach?   I sincerely hope this isn’t a taste of things to come.

  • Daria Sockey

    Ugh! That sounds hideous. I’ve seen it in protestant churches but never in a catholic church. I hope you have an alternate parish you can go to. 

  • Daria Sockey

    I also love having a nice light purse on my shoulder and all those books on Kindle. That’s one reason why our generation (assuming your arthritis isn’t the juvenile variety!) should seriously consider getting up to speed on some of these things.