Digital Prayer


Prayer doesn’t get much more “old school” than the Liturgy of the Hours.  In fact, its basic structure (psalms, canticles, readings) has remained pretty much the same for about 1000 years—but the Liturgy of the Hours, also called the Divine Office, was prayed even before that, in the earliest monasteries.

As a Secular Franciscan, I pray Morning and Evening Prayer on a daily basis, either individually or with the other Franciscans in my fraternity.  It’s a wonderful way to pray the Psalms and to unite in prayer with the worldwide Church.  In fact, in November 2011, Pope Benedict XVI said that there was one prayer he wished all Catholics would learn to use:  the Liturgy of the Hours.  You don’t have to be a priest or a Sister to pray it.

Unfortunately, praying the Liturgy of the Hours involves a learning curve, and that discouraged many people.  When you’re trying to learn this on your own, it feels pretty complicated.  Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue!

Thanks to a few handy websites and apps, now it’s easy to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.  You can smoothly and seamlessly pray your way through the Psalms, canticles and readings without needing 17 bookmarks and a quick-reference guide.

All three of the resources below offer a free online breviary plus the other features listed here:

  • Divine Office offers apps for android, iOS, Mac, and Kindle Fire.  Users have the option of downloading audio prayers (great for listening during your commute to work!)  You can also download several days of prayer at a single time, which is a wonderful option when traveling.  This app costs $19.99.
  • iBreviary is a free app for android, iOS and BlackBerry; there is also an option to add a widget to your own website that contains the prayers.  Instant downloads are also available up to a week at a time for convenience during travel.
  • Universalis allows you to download the prayers up to a month at a time and save them as e-books to be used with a Kindle, Nook or other e-reader.  You get a one-month free trial to see if you like the services this program offers; after that, you can purchase a license for the program.  There is also an app for iOS devices which costs $20.99 but has the entire Liturgy of the Hours contained within it; you will never need to connect to the Internet to download the day’s prayers.

While there’s plenty to be said for keeping it “old school,” I find digital prayer to be much less distracting.  It’s easier to focus my mind on the prayer when I’m not worrying about whether I’m on the right page.  My biggest obstacle (other than finding the charger for my iPhone) is the transition.  Instead of finishing the prayer and then sitting and reflecting quietly with the book in my hand, it’s very tempting to jump onto Facebook or Twitter as soon as I’ve finished with the final blessing.

The key, I’m finding, is to look for balance.  But these digital prayer tools have made the Liturgy of the Hours more accessible and less frustrating for me.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2012 Barb Szyszkiewicz


About Author

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom, Secular Franciscan, managing editor for Today's Catholic Teacher magazine and editor at Her three children range in age from high school to young adult, and she enjoys writing, cooking, and reading. Barb is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.


    • Most of my fellow local Franciscans are much less “techy” than I am, and they think it’s hilarious that I use an iPad as a prayer book. I’m noticing, though, that they all want to see what it looks like–EVERY time we get together.

  1. Great to see you here, getting the high tech word out about the LOTH!
    But I can’t get my ipod touch to download a whole week at a time on ibreviary, so some day we’ll have to talk about how to do that. I keep hitting the “download week” button, but never get more than a day at a time.

    • Daria, I just tried it and it worked fine. After you download the week, stay in the Settings screen. Beneath the words “Download Week” you should see the prayers for the following 7 days. Choose one of those days, then Pray/Breviary/(hour of your choice) and check it that way. In order to switch to a different day, you need to return to the settings and choose one of the other available days. A bit cumbersome, but it gets you there. Let me know if it doesn’t work on yours!

  2. Pingback: Tech Talk: Changes Ahead for Divine Office App and Website - - Celebrating Catholic Motherhood

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