I faced something of a dilemma this week. I offered mass at Dunkeld on Sunday morning, which is a half hour drive from Hamilton.

At a quarter to nine, while I was busying myself in the sacristy, I congratulated myself for having arrived early enough to prepare for Mass at a relaxed pace. That bubble quickly burst, though, when I realised that I had left the missal in Hamilton!

When the new missals were published last year, the Hamilton parish bought one large altar edition and two smaller chapel editions. The smaller country churches celebrate mass on a fortnightly basis, so it was deemed better to buy two missals which are used weekly, than six missals which are used infrequently.

Luckily for me, the Universalis app on my iPad contained the Order of the Mass, complete with Propers of the Day. So I was able to proceed with my iPad sitting snugly on the missal stand. Far from ideal, and certainly not intentional, but an adequate substitute!

I wonder what I would have done if I was in New Zealand. The NZ Bishops Conference has explicitly banned use of the iPad as a substitute for the missal:

The Missal is reserved for use during the Church’s liturgy. iPads and other electronic devices have a variety of uses, e.g. for the playing of games, using the internet, watching videos and checking mail. This alone makes their use in the liturgy inappropriate.

There was an alternative available to me on Sunday. The Dunkeld sacristy is still furnished with the old sacramentary, which I suppose is licit to use at a pinch. I have never used the sacramentary as a priest. Although I was ordained six weeks before the new missal was introduced Bishop Peter dispensed me from using the old translation. He didn’t see much point in me learning to say a mass I would have to unlearn in a matter of months.

Perhaps the moral of the story is to keep a missal in my car at all times. I do have a study edition I could keep on hand. But faced with the same dilemma again, even under New Zealand type restrictions, I think I’d still choose the iPad over the sacramentary.

What would you do?

(I bet there’s a host of seminarians who have an answer to this one. Especially since its study week, and writing lengthy blog comments is much more satisfying than swotting for exams!)