I pray that anyone who got a succinct email from me today, will forgive any offense; I was tired. It’s entirely my fault and I apologize. But, staying up till 1 AM to find the perfect app to fit my prayer need was well worth it.
It probably wouldn’t have taken so long if the iPhone’s native app store search function was more keyword friendly. (To anyone with connections, will you have them work on that please? kthxbai) Two hours later a Google search gave me my app in the second search result. Phew. I knew it had to be out there. It was such a simple idea, I knew someone had to have thought of it; it was just a matter of finding it. After the first hour of looking, I was thinking I’d rather make my OWN app. But, alas, I don’t own a Mac, and can’t use the dev kit.
That got me to thinking of what my favorite apps are, and how many other jewels are out there that I’m missing that could also help me develop a stronger prayer life. So, here’s the list of the apps I’m using now, things I love about them, and a few suggestions for the future. Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t spend a lot of money on apps, so some of the big names (iMissal or Universalis for example), you won’t see on this list. But, I’ve found others that do just as well. And naturally, this is limited to iPhone apps because that’s all I have. No iPads or Androids here. Nevertheless, maybe a jewel is hiding in here for you too.
Oh and, I’m going to limit myself to just detailing the apps I actually use. A few of the apps I have installed I don’t actually use, probably because I have something else that is similar, better aesthetically, or more current. There’s lots of apps I’ve tried though so any questions you have, send them my way! Maybe it’s in here somewhere, just on a different page.
This is the one that kept me up all night. It’s actually not limited to Catholics, nor developed by one, which is fine because it’s perfectly simplistic. All I was looking for was a prayer app with programmable text notifications. Think: alarm clock for prayer. But, I didn’t want to use an audible alarm because a ringtone going off everyday at 3:00 PM might annoy some of my colleagues. Yet, nothing I have has that capability. I tried just plain to-do lists and calendar apps, but those almost all had to be purchased in order to set recurring alarms.
And then I found Pray! Pray! simply lets you create a list of items, categorize them, and add reminders. It’s completely open ended and, consequently, infinitely adaptable. I have lists of just prayer intentions, a few favorite poetic prayers for safekeeping, and some simple one-worded reminders (like for Liturgy of the Hours, which is on a whole separate app). I think the name of the app is genius. It’s not just a name, but a command; something that I was looking for in particular, as opposed to just a “to-do” or “reminder” type notification.
Pray! is a one-man show and was launched less than a year ago so there’s lots of room to grow. One suggestion from Twitter was a password function, I would also add photos to that wish list. Typing a whole prayer is definitely less preferred over just snapping a picture of a prayer card. (Or for the truly determined, there’s at least one app that I know of that will convert an image to text, which could be copy/pasted into Pray! as a workaround in the meantime.)
Anyway, I love this app, and have prayed more today than in a long while! Woo hoo!
Mass Times by The Catholic Directory.com
This might be the first app I ever installed on my phone and it has been indispensable ever since. I treat my bookmarks here more like a phone book than anything else! Whatever I can’t find within the app, is easily located on the parish’s website, which is viewed in-app.
I feel silly that it was actually a few months before I realized that the daily readings for mass and videos were included too. Only for the current day though. There are slight differences with the word choice (thee vs you) with the readings, but with the same meaning. I don’t know what translation they’re using. Probably something open source.
iBreviary Pro Terra Sancta (Link)
Did I say free? Because it’s FREE. Like Liturgy of the Hours every day of the year for FREE. And it’s good too! No cut corners here. The app has been fully revamped since “iBreviary Pro” but features the same skeleton. It’s got Office of Readings, Lauds, Daytime Prayers, Vespers, and Compline. That alone makes this app phenomenal. But, it doesn’t stop there. It’s got the entire missal (not just the readings but the priest’s prayers, too), Saint of the Day articles and image, daily Lectures, a treasury of Prayers, and I think what is a comprehensive listing of Rites (including Blessings and Sacraments). It has everything from emergency rites, to Blessing of the Roses of St. Rita, to the Marriage rite. (I know, huh?!)
Sadly, the only problem as of now while writing this blog is that every time I tried to open the Missal menu, the whole app crashed. Which is strange because I just used it earlier today. Hmm. Hopefully a force-quit will clear that up.
If my copy of this app were a book, it would be worn, highlighted, dog-eared, and bookmarked like you wouldn’t believe. It would also be huge because included in this app is enough books to be a library. I can’t list them all, but the big ones are: two complete Bible translations (Douay-Rheims & Clementine Vulgate), both the Novus Ordo & Tridentine calendars (with color coding!) plus readings, St. Louis de Monfort’s 33-day Preparation for Total Consecration, hundreds listings for prayers, novenas, papal encyclicals, rites, spiritual writings and devotionals (with a large selection available in Latin) and some of them in audio too. Like I said, huge.
Everything is easily accessible though, because it’s organized by category and searchable on top of that.
They update with new stuff on occasion, too. With this much content however, a few typos slip by, but a quick email will ensure they catch it in the next update. My only complaint would be the GUI (graphical user interface) looks a little dated even with the limited amount of text customization available. Also, as I’m right handed, I often find myself accidentally swiping the scroll bar with my thumb when I’m trying to select something else. I don’t know if it’s because this one is wider than others (it uses abbreviated words like “IHS DM” for the Divine Mercy category instead of the alphabet). This usually results in frustration for me because in this aspect, the app differs from everything else and I forget to change my habits when using it.
Almost everything about the faith I could ever need is here, which makes the $2.99 price tag paltry in comparison.
I don’t know a lot about the creator of this app. I know that it was launched way before the new one, “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” ($1.99) which has an imprimatur. I haven’t tried Confession, so I can’t provide a comparison.
But, the rundown for iConfess goes like this… Under the Examination of Conscience menu, it lists the 10 Commandments, 7 Deadly Sins, and a few other categories. Under each one is a list of statements, which you can flag as applicable. These flagged items get filtered on to the “For Confession” tab. The idea is that either during or after Reconciliation, you mark off the flags as they are confessed so you don’t forget anything. There’s a log for notes or to keep record of penances, prayers, and articles on the topic of this sacrament. I find it to be quite thorough.
I hear a few complaints on crashes or non-responsiveness but any problem I’ve ever had was resolved with the latest update. This app is simple yet thorough, practical, and hasn’t left me wanting.
Virgin Mary (No website)
An impulse buy, I haven’t regretted it. The app has over 75 images of Mary, and the reverses all have prayers. I love that the images have captions referencing who the artists/time periods are, resulting in frequent Ah-ha moments. (Like that La Pieta was finished in 1499 AD.)
Currently my app is glitching with a bar across the bottom, making it impossible to read the captions. Also, the prayers are seemingly random, so it makes me question the origin of this app. The developer this app is listed under has no information about “Virgin Mary” on their site.
But my favorites really are my favorites. It’s nowhere near as practical as something like iPieta, but it’s still enjoyable.
- Art Image Rosary Classic, $4.99
Interactive, animated rosary, featuring optional background music (Gregorian chant), clicks, vibration on the “Glory Be”, and prayer text. The app features artwork of the current decade in a chapel setting with flicking votive candles and mediation before each mystery. It also has some common optional prayers to add to your rosary routine, such as the Litany of Loreto and Prayer to St. Michael. My favorite rosary app, it truly delivers an experience rather than a reference.
- Rosary Guide, FREE
I really am grateful for this app because it taught me how to pray the rosary in Latin. It’s touch-based, but not overly animated. A glowing light works it’s way around the stationary rosary to keep you on track. Each bead prompts the prayer text and cannot be turned off. With no music, images, meditations, or vibration, this is the simplest rosary app. I think that makes it ideal though, because some people benefit from as few bells and whistles as possible. My only complaint is the lack of Retina Display support, meaning the beads appear grainy.
- Rosary – Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, FREE
The rosary app features the most intricate and elegant art work and does not have an interactive rosary. (And that’s a good thing!) It features only the mysteries and prayers, making it perfect for someone who has a tangible rosary in hand, and is only looking for a guide for mediation. Each mystery features a bible verse and artwork which can be viewed in full screen. I wish the artwork titles and artists were referenced within the app though. Currently they can only be found in the App Store description.
StationsOfTheCross by Ave Maria Press
- Price: $0.99
- I got this app because it was recommended to me by a seminarian I know. Unlike the traditional Stations, this app is based on JPII’s 1991 new biblical interpretation of the stations. There are 14 stations, each with original artwork. If you know the prayers by memory, then you can just flip through the photos as you pray. Otherwise, the text will pop up but covers the image. Overall, the app is beautiful, clean, simple, and effective.
Divine Mercy by The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception
Does anyone know if the Divine Mercy Chaplet is copyrighted? Because the other DM apps disappeared and this is the only one. And boy, is it a big one. The interactive chaplet is only 1/16th of this app. There are 15 other menus to choose from, featuring articles about St. Faustina and excerpts from her diary, “Mercy Popes”, a Timeline, Stations of the Cross, 3 Divine Mercy images, several novenas and prayers and more!