Apple, which is a cargo cult based around the teachings of the charismatic Apple CEO Steve Jobs, has been making inroads into more traditional religion here in Rome. The basic philosophy is that you hand over money for a gadget you do not need and feel good about yourself for five minutes.
Now it seems that a Roman priest has got the idea that it is good idea to bring in the religious icons of the rival religion into his church.
Reverend Paolo Padrini has decided that from now on an iPad will be placed on the altar during the celebration of mass.
The idea is that instead of a nice heavy book with the ritual written on it, the priest will see the rite on an Apple iPad application. A few hundred years ago Padrini would have been burnt at the stake for even suggesting such an idea.
A free application will be launched in July in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Latin.
Padrini is a bit of an Apple fanboy. Two years ago he developed the iBreviary, an application that brought the book of daily prayers used by priests onto iPhones. So far some 200,000 people have downloaded the application.
The iPad application contains the complete missal – containing all that is said and sung during Mass throughout the liturgical year.
There will be upgrades to feature audio as well as commentaries and suggestions for homilies as well as musical accompaniment.
Padrini has a parish in Tortona, in Italy’s northern Piemonte region. He said that people should not be scandalised that on altars there are instruments “in support of prayer”.
Padrini, 36, said he expected priests who have to travel a lot for work would find the application most useful, noting that he recently had to celebrate Mass in a small parish where the missal was ”a small book, a bit dirty and old”.
He stressed that the iPad application, like the iBreviary, was launched at his own instigation and with his own money and is not an official Vatican initiative.
Prayer is not unusual when holding an iPad. Such prayers include “I hope my spouse or parents do not find out how much I paid for this”, “Dear God, give me multi-tasking”, “Jesus, why has this thing disconnected again?” and “Lord give me the strength to hold this thing for longer than five minutes”.
Still, given the fact that the Eastern and Western branches of the Catholic Church fell out over when the bells should be rung to indicate that the communion wafer and grog had become the blood and body of Jesus, we would have thought the placement of an an Apple on the altar would be a bit radical. After all Apples were what started the whole Christian thing off in the first place.