It seems like everyone I know has an iPad (even my brother)! In August, at the CNMC in Boston, the iPad was the hot new toy. Half a dozen conference-goers used it to tweet live, multiple keynote speakers presented with their iPads and a hand full of exhibitors incorporated the device into their sponsor tables. (If you can’t tell, I’m a little jealous…)
There’s no doubt that the iPad is revolutionary and absolutely cool! The slim touch screen device is quickly becoming a hit in the publishing industry, education, and even the business world. Despite all the press coverage the iPad has received, no one seems to be talking about how it will integrate into how we experience of our faith. Based on what I saw at the CNMC, it is obviously a big hit with the Catholic new media crowd. So, here are my thoughts on how Apple’s iPad might influence the Church and the way we interact with our faith.
1. The Bible
Okay, so this is obvious. A lot of people think of the iPad as a Kindle replacement. Sometimes I think we forget how powerful the written word is (especially when divinely inspired by God). As Matthew Kelly says, “we become the books we read”.
The iPad could also help a lot of visually impaired Christians. For example, the associate pastor at one of our local Catholic parishes has a degenerative eye disease. He currently uses a special digital magnification device to read the Gospel, but this could easily be replaced by iBooks or the iBrieviary app for the iPad (it’s awesome and FREE). I wonder how many people would be shocked if they saw their parish priest do the Gospel procession with an iPad?
This is my first year as a school of religion teacher, and let me tell you, it’s hard to keep the classroom focused. I’m teaching seventh graders (or what I call the “awkward years”). So far, I’ve found that the key to keeping my kids focused is through engaging learning activities. I think interactive Christian-based games would be a huge hit in Catholic education. One of the best parts about the iPad is that it encourages collaboration. No matter the age group: bible jeopardy, Noah’s Arc mix and match, interactive Church history timeline, stations of the cross; the list goes on and on… kids would soak up this stuff (meaning the Church’s beautiful message).
SEE ALSO: The Top 5 Best Catholic iPhone Apps
If you’re an iOS game developer, PLEASE TALK TO ME, I’m sure we could come up with some great ideas! Our most important task as a Church is to pass down the message of Christ’s love to the next generation, so why not put it in a form they resonate with?
3. Christian Media
This is where I think the iPad can be an invaluable tool. Using this device to enjoy your music and movies is incredible. As a Church I believe we need to get better at meeting people where they are in their faith. The public is using mobile devices, and it’s a natural progression for the Catholic message to get optimized for devices such as the iPad. Catholic TV and SQPN are two organizations that create some of the best Catholic content in the world. Both could benefit massively by having either an iPad app or a mobile version of their website. Having those resources in your hands makes it that much easier to evangelize. Popular Catholic news sources should develop a mobile friendly version of their sites. The only way to spread the Truth is to get it in front of people in a way that they currently get their media.
Who says you can’t pray with a mobile device? My friend Paul Camarata uses his iPhone all the time at mass to follow the readings. He uses the Magnificat for iPhone app. Applications such as this make it easy to have access to all your Catholic resources in one place. I would feel perfectly comfortable bringing an iPad to adoration with me. It would definitely take some restraint to not play Angry Birds on it though. Catholicism is a beautiful and very sensory driven religion. One way to meditate on Mary could be to flip through famous images of her, like Our Lady of Guadeloupe, on your iPad.
5. Church Administration
The iPad makes quick administrative tasks simple. For example, people could use it outside of mass to register parishioners for a retreat. In my SOR classes, we could just mark off attendance as the kids come into the room. By using apps like Numbers, a choir director could plan the music for mass for the next six months. So many possibilities, but only so much time to write a blog post.
In the future, more priests will use their iPads to celebrate Mass. Will it happen regularly? No. Maybe for a few priests (Fr. Roderick or the iPadre). However, I do think the average priest may use it for celebrating impromptu masses in remote locations. Recently I attended a friends wedding where the celebrant used an iPad to perform the marriage ceremony. It was definitely different, but hey why not!
What are some ways you think the iPad could be integrated into the Catholic Church and in your faith life?