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eMissal app provides instant access to music, readings and prayers

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Oregon Catholic Press has designed an eMissal app that allows worshipers access to prayers, readings and songs used in liturgy.

One thing lost during this Covid pandemic that doesn’t get mentioned is the ability to share. Not only must we stand six feet apart, but resources like church missals and hymnals cannot be passed around from one person to another for fear of spreading viruses. This limits the ability of some worshipers to sing during Mass. To allow all people to participate fully in the liturgy, Oregon Catholic Press has designed a new easy-to-use digital worship resource, the Breaking Bread 2021 eMissalapp.

The app features instant access to music, readings, prayers and the Order of Mass, providing churchgoers with everything needed to take part fully in the celebration. They can even prepare for Mass by meditating on the readings before heading to church or turning on the livestream.

The product came as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic when OCP realized many churchgoers were without the aid of missals and hymnals. Many parishes were asked to remove the shared books from pews during the early weeks of the pandemic. People who participated in livestreamed Masses were often without those resources in their homes.

“We recognized, certainly people are doing the best they can in terms of church participation, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they had a resource they could use to really follow along with the readings, even prepare ahead of time by reading the Word of God and meditating on it,” explained Wade Wisler, publisher for OCP. “We’ve been thinking about developing an app like this for a long time. We realized there was truly and urgent need now.”

A quick demonstration of the Breaking Bread app shows it opens up to the upcoming Sunday’s Mass. It describes the opening procession and includes words the priest may use to address the congregation. The full texts of prayers and readings are included. The Communion Antiphon and prayer after Communion follow. Hymns and psalms can be selected from a selection of over 850, so the Mass can be customized to that of a particular priest’s style. If a song is listed in the parish program, parishioners can pick the songs as easy as flipping through the pages of a hymnal. Wisler finds “All Glory, Laud and Honor” quicker than finding “Hey Jude” on iTunes.

There are other apps that provide the readings, but Breaking Bread’s music selection is unique.

“The beauty in that is, it allows people to sing along with the church as part of our worship,” Wisler said. “We’re not called to be passive spectators in the liturgy, are we? The Second Vatican Council emphasized that the assembly is called to full conscience and active participation. Our worship is a sung worship. We sing as part of our worship of God. It’s one of the most beautiful things that we do. So, this app provides the music that people need to sing along, to participate in the sung worship.”

Developed quickly and released on Ash Wednesday, the app has been sanctioned for the rest of 2021 liturgical year by the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops. Phones and mobile devices have been a concern for pastors in the past, who see them as a distraction in church. “But this is an unusual year, isn’t it?” asked Wisler. “(The USCCB) approved it knowing there is a real need for this in the Church.” The USCCB also gave special permission for parishes to reproduce and use USCCB-owned copyrighted material as worship aids without charge.

Wisler doesn’t know if the USCCB will give the same allowances next year. He thinks the church will realize that the readings and prayers should be as accessible as possible and hopes to produce an approved 2022 edition.

The app is available for all iOS and Android users, and costs just $4.99 for every Sunday of the 2021 liturgical year.

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