Tweeting While in the Adoration Chapel…

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I was in the adoration chapel and I had an urge to tweet. I was so enthralled by Fr. Robert Barron’s eloquence on the life of St. Thomas Aquinas that I couldn’t hold it in. I just, couldn’t help myself, I HAD to project this moment of celestial clarity through the closest means digital evangelization possible.

But as “tweet sent” brandished my screen, I suddenly felt all filthy. Was I supposed to tweet in the adoration chapel? Would Jesus approve?

I then took my uneasiness to the interwebs of had friends and mentors weigh in on exactly what was acceptable and what was not acceptable when it comes to using technology in the adoration chapel.

Here’s what we came up with:

I found this on one parish website:

Please do not use cell phones, pagers, electronic devices.  Adult adorers are permitted to have these devices for emergency use only (e.g. if they are at adoration in the middle of the night, are a doctor or nurse on call, etc.) and only in silent/vibrate modeUnder no circumstances should children or teens have any hand held email/web devices, small computers, cell phones, pagers, electronic games/toys, or other electronic devices in the adoration chapel. (source)

Suffice to say, I think this rule goes too far. To negate the use of technology for the group that most often uses it could potentially lead to lower adoration attendance from that age group. I know I’m a techie and the majority of the spiritual books I read are on my kindle, I use the Divine Office App and I sometimes jot down some Godly notes on Evernote.

Does that distract me from the True Presence?

The truth is, I honestly don’t know. St. John Paul the Great and Blessed Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to spend hours in front of the Eucharist with pen and notebook in hand. Sheen himself said in his autobiography that there isn’t a word he wrote that didn’t see its birth under the observance of the Sacrament.

And still, the questions remain. Sure, advances in technology have made it easier for us all to access truth, but what if Truth Himself is right in front of you. Does the knowledge He wishes to impart unto you come from the reflection of your smartphone or the glass encased beam that strikes your eye from the monstrance?

The Diocese of Marquette answers:

“One of the challenges of Christian spirituality in our society today is to avoid the heresy of activism on the one hand and escapism on the other. The practice of perpetual adoration should lead the faithful to a sense of gratitude for God’s tremendous love and a response of reaching out in the spirit of love to their neighbors and the community, especially to the poor. Pastors should be attentive in their preaching and catechesis to encourage the people of the parish to ponder Jesus’ teaching in their hearts and put it into practice. Parishes may want to place prayer cards throughout the adoration chapel which remind the people to pray for the parish, the community and our brothers and sisters around the world, especially the poor and the oppressed.” (source)

When all was said and done, I came to the following conclusions:

  • Tweeting  in an adoration is unacceptable.
  • Reading and writing the old fashioned way (using pen and paper) is fine, but proceed with caution.
  • Reading and writing using technology? Use only as a last resort. Books still exist in their natural papyrus form. Our brains have been programmed to respond to physical texts since the invention of written language. We’re still trying to figure out what to do with digital text.
  • Listening in silence is best spiritual investment possible as it allows for grace to enter, the heart to swell with Love Himself, and the soul to manifest said Love in deed as one leaves the presence of the Most High. (Unless you are Blessed Fulton Sheen or St. John Paul II who could simultaneously do all of this because of their heroic piety).

What about you? What are your thoughts about the use of technology in the adoration chapel?

TJ Burdick

TJ Burdick

TJ Burdick is the lead author of One Body, Many Blogs, Advice for Christian Bloggers. He is also a school teacher by trade, a lay Catholic by grace and a husband and father of three by vocation. He writes to help support Catholic charities and to put food on the table for his family as his teaching wages are very humble. When he is not enjoying time with his family, you can find him planning his next big lesson or locked inside an adoration chapel. You can find more of his work at @ tjburdick.com.

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36 thoughts on “Tweeting While in the Adoration Chapel…”

  1. I have to respectfully disagree that non-physical books have no place during adoration.

    I’m a relatively new adorer, and at first I brought physical books to read or used the ones provided in our perpetual adoration chapel. To my dismay, I found that our chapel is so dimly lit (unless you happen to get a chair by the doorway into the foyer. The chapel is in a small house.) that it was almost impossible to read them. I’m only 38, but I’ve already had cataract surgery, so it’s probably not just the lighting. Now, I use my iPad mini which only has a wi-fi connection – and that’s not available in the chapel. When I arrive, I kneel and pray for however long I want/need to. And then I pray using the Divine Office app from the introduction to day through the midmorning readings. I also have several lectio divina books on my Kindle app that I read from.

    My hour is from 9-10 on Mondays which is during and after daily Mass at the church across the street. So there is a constant stream of people in and out of the chapel. The other week I counted five people in a chapel that has chairs only for eight! Obviously this is wonderful, but it can be very distracting when you’re trying to pray and the front door is opening and closing every five minutes. Perhaps when I’ve been doing this longer I won’t be distracted so easily! Until then, I’ll keep using what works best for me.

  2. There’s no basic difference between reading a book or a screen, or between jotting words on paper or a Memo app. The key thing is to eschew any outside communication (except on emergency call) so you devote your entire attention to God. So if you’re using a smartphone it has to be on silent and in flight mode. “Flight mode”! How perfectly appropriate …

    1. I think there’s a huge difference in reading something in a book or screen. A book is not a screen period. Not that I ever focus on it, but you don’t have the tactile impression of fingers turning the page. You’re reading something, content, on a screen, not in a “book” Don’t know where it was, online maybe, but there was something about how studies had shown ( maybe it was a paragraph that I read in a newspaper) that people who read stuff online/tablets, didn’t have the same “memory” recall as those who did so on books. Caught my interest..
      I guess “reading” something if it’s easier to do so because the “light” is easier, will/might justify the means right? But it’s funny that you say “eschew any outside communication) when you’re dealing with an object ( the ipad) that is used, ( I believe) for “inter-communicating” with the “world out there”. It has internet connection right? So…. just thinking…

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  4. No. There should be no electronic gizmos in church. It’s bad enough having mobile phones going off accidentally.
    How would you feel about having the Holy Gospel read from an iPad?
    We are weak and foolish beings and need protecting from ourselves. If the congregation is all following the liturgy on their computer, how long before you see your neighbour checking their emails? Or the sports scores?
    Let’s just say no.

    1. The congregation shouldn’t be following along on any medium. Missals were a function of the fact the Mass was in a Sacral language that some did not understand, and the whole theology of using the vernacular and proclaiming the word is that it is there is a theological difference between to HEARing the Word vs. reading words.

      However, the question about using electronics at Mass to proclaim the Word from is fundamentally different from the question at hand. The question that was proposed is about using electronics in private prayer. ABSOLUTELY you are correct that their is too much of a chance for distraction and abuse using electronics in Public worship, however in private worship of the Sacrament its a completely different question.

  5. It most certainly distracts us others that might be in there for adoration. In our church, the majority of the people in contemplative prayer are of an older generation and find such behavior as disruptive. Please keep others in mind as you play with your toys.

    1. Does that mean that if someone finds the noise from rosary beads distracting, or someone pacing, or someone kneeling or sitting, that we need to eliminate all of these practices as well? St. John Paul II, following the example of St. Domenic, often would prostrate himself cruciform on a Chapel floor in prayer, some might find that distracting!

      Unless their is a violence to what someone is doing, meaning a pushing into your space, and important skill for Church in general is learning how to ignore others (which is to say respect their prayer) and keep your eyes focused on your own heart and Jesus.

      1. I pray at an adoration chapel where Irish Travelers frequently come to adore. They have some very distracting prayer practices, i.e., Storm Novena, where they pace in & out the door to the chapel and offer prayers in between, and other practices. I once was in the chapel when a Traveler, I was not familiar with, came in with her teenaged daughter. While the mother was pacing back & forth behind me, the daughter was up front kneeling at a statue of the BVM and touching her. This was very distracting for me, but I didn’t let on to them. Without warning, the daughter came over and knelt down almost on top of me. It gave me the creeps, and I just got up and left the chapel. When others are in the chapel praying, we should pray in silence so as to avoid distracting others. When praying alone or gathered with like-minded people, there’s no problem with these types of devotions. It’s all about being respectful of each other and giving each other space.

  6. To begin with, the picture of the Monstrance with the little blue bird seems disrespectful to me. And yes, I agree with you, electronic toys OFF in front of the KING OF THE UNIVERSE. I always thought books and such seemed strange as well. Do we understand whom we are kneeling in front off at this alter? The answer is absolutely not. How can someone ADORE when they’re occupied with anything else? We can’t. “Be still and know I am God”.

    1. So…what you are saying is that Jesus only wants to be present to us when we are adoring him? He is unwilling, and displeased, to have us come into his presence to study, correspond, teach, etc.

      There are a lot of Saints who would disagree with you.

      There is a time for all things and while I agree that profound Adoration is essential, the whole purpose of Emmanuel, God being with us is to sanctify every moment of Human Life. So if it causes us to ignore him that is one things, but if we do something with Him, isn’t that what His plan was all about?

      1. I relate completely to Fr. Robert Barrons description of ADORATION…or ADORATIO. He speaks about worship as adoration which in Latin literrally means “mouth to mouth.” We breathe in God’s breath and exhale God’s praise. Fr. Gaitley also touches on this in his book “Consoling The Heart of Jesus”.

        Your comment is God’s reminder to me that each of us are created very different…and will adore Him in our own way. I am definitely very contemplative which is why I commented the way I did.

  7. Sorry i disagree. I love taking pictures of Jesus Our King in the Holy Eucharist and posting it on Facebook to Evangelize. …….all the world needs to know that Jesus is in the Montrance and come see HIM!! AS St Paul says “encourage one another”..we should ALWAYS show off Our King!!!

  8. Jesus is God, he doesn’t need tweets to communicate, your prayer is sufficient enough to get the job done where it needs to be done. So, pray large and ask Him to bring the graces where they need to be. In Heaven, there are no electronic devices and we communicate instantly. Angels do it all the time. God Bless you in your evangelization efforts-you have the most supreme supercomputer sitting front of you in the monstrance—-it is so simple–all you have to do is ask…remember the scripture: seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened, ask and you will receive…simple very simple…..

  9. Another thought just popped in my mind ( smiles). I believe I saw a woman read from one of those gadgets ( sorry am not sure if what she had was a phone, or ipdad? or can you, well guess you can only read from an ipad right?) Found the “light” a bit disturbing. It was a distraction to me at least. And yes I know that someone could say well just look in another direction. What I’m getting at is that sometimes we can get distracted very easily, and/or without meaning to and I just didn’t find that “light” ( which was very different from the light in the chapel) something helpful. It was another distraction so to speak.

    1. Reading a book people may need a light too! Personally all things being equal, I like a chapel pitch black with only the Sacrament illuminated… but you can’t always get what you want! Question is, is a little bit of light which allows someone to read…perhaps a book that they could not afford, or a book which in prayer the Holy Spirit encourages them to take up and read…is that little bit of light an unreasonable and thus uncharitable inconvenience? Remember…there are lots of things that you do that may be much more distracting to others than the blue light of a device!

  10. I would go with St. John of the Cross’s advice and suggest that if it leads you to deeper prayer and adoration, then it is good. If it’s distracting, then keep the electronics off. Don’t worry about what others are doing with their devices. I personally do use the Laudate app on my iPhone to read Scriptures, and sometimes I love to take a pic of our Lord before I leave. I can look at His picture later and it melts my heart. How about everyone can decide for themselves rather than trying to lay down a hard and fast rule by which we can judge our own and others’ holiness?

    1. Oh stop. No one is judging anyone’s holiness. This is just people expressing their feelings. We should listen to what others are saying with openness and a willingness to change if we are the minority. I know I will now be more accommodating to electronics in church if it helps my brother draw closer to our Lord.

      1. Mary Ann, I certainly did not mean this in a harsh way; I apologize that it came off that way. God bless you and yours.

    2. Exactly. ….we need to flood the Internet with Holy pictures etc….Many Catholics i know are not aware of Adoration…..we have to Evangelize and spread the word

  11. Erica Johnson Marten

    I had never considered bringing an electronic device into Adoration until I began working on a Rosary devotional. One day, in need of spiritual direction, I brought my laptop, sat in the very back pew of the church (our church does Adoration in the church) and typed my notes while I prayed. I was very respectful and made sure not to make noise. I “wrote” for two hours and felt very inspired. At the same time I felt uneasy about using a computer, but the thought of using a pen and paper to jot notes was out of the question. I’ve spent hundreds of hours praying and penning a Rosary Meditation. I can’t think of a better place to write this, but I also have a deep understanding of the sacredness and holiness of Adoration. I have mixed emotions. Thoughts?

  12. Could you not spend one hour with me? One hour without your cell phone or laptop? I think the intercession of St. John of the Cross is greatly needed in our day. Why? Because of his great teaching on detachment. If we can’t unplug for one hour (emergencies aside) to give God his due, we are certainly a slave to technology. And another great Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila) teaches us that if God impresses something on us in our prayer time, we will remember it, then one can write it down later or discuss with a spiritual director. I don’t believe she ever wrote during the hours of mental prayer in the convent. Let us pray for each other! Peace be with you!

    1. What about those who spend one hour and then want to go back and spend a second hour sanctifying are work before the Lord? You are making the assumption that a cell phone or tablet means less time one on one with God, whereas the fact is it could mean more! And do you really want to say that 1 hour without the Sacred Scriptures is better than one hour with…I have thoughts about St. John’s opinion on the matter…those same scriptures can be illuminated in pixels.

      Also, in what objective way does your line of thought not carry over to books and paper? Before the 15th century these items were designer luxuries and definitely not ubiquitous as they are today. Was the 15th century “churchie” person shaking their head saying, “Could you not spend one hour with me? One hour without your books, and pen, and paper?”

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  14. While I agree that silent contemplative prayer is essential in front of the Sacrament, given the option between being there praying, or not, I would think praying even if in an non ideal way is better than not praying. And tweeting God’s praises, if it helps you think and pray and adore the Sacrament, is better than sitting in the chapel distracted and unable to concentrate. We are not monks, or even 19th century farmers, our society is full of communications and habituated to this over-stimulation it is for younger people difficult to let go of. And at times we have to! When I take my kids on retreat I demand their phones so that they can let go and let God; however I also don’t drop them into a silent retreat, I use activities and group discussions to help them listen to what God is saying, because while he might be (IS) speaking to them in the silence of their heart, they don’t know how to hear it yet. Silent adoration is only the last part of a day that is built upon listening to God in various ways from very active ways to progressively more passive ways.

    Personally I use my phone to pray the Divine Office, look up scriptures, and when I am alone to play music, all while in front of the Sacrament. Also, when I am distracted, or can’t decide where I want my homily to go, I often answer questions on Facebook’s “AskACatholicPriest” page or tweet out a prayer to someone in need.

    God speaks to us in creation, every part of creation, created as it was by His Word, can be meaningful, and although we have to be careful not to allow our electronics to become distraction they can in fact aid in prayer. I recommend that if you do use electronics in the chapel that you limit yourself to 10-15 minutes or less, as you should BTW a book, or plan to use it just occasionally to look up a scripture. Make sure you leave time for meditation and contemplation, and silence in a holy hour, but be honest with yourself too if you are honestly praying with a device what difference is there between that and praying with a book? I remember a famous priest from EWTN surprising me once while we were on retreat together because he was praying the Mass from his tablet (a practice that has since been disallowed by the USCCB pending study). When I asked him about it he said, “there is nothing sacred about paper!”

  15. Reading a prayer from your iPad or from a book makes no difference. But…. I saw someone playing a game on their phone once while in the adoration chapel. I’ve seen others browse their Facebook page and making comments.

    Playing games, updating your status is disrespectful, as would reading a Spider-Man comic book.

  16. Jenny Tomsic Bioche

    No devices, never. Saying you read a Catholic Ap is fine when you’re on a subway, but this is the REAL PRESCENCE Brothers and Sisters! You’re putting convenience over our Lord. Posting pictures of the Blessed Sacrament might appear to be evangelizing, but it is not. Telling your brother to come to Mass with you is. It’s why priests tell families “no photos during baptism”. Adoration is a sacred act, and if you need to read a prayer, bring a clip- on light.

  17. Jenny Tomsic Bioche

    No devices in Church or the Adoration Chapel, never. Read a Catholic ap if you’re riding the subway. Devices distract, and we are placing convenience over our Lord who is there in the Real Presence. Taking a photo of the monstrance and tweeting/facebooking it is not evangelizing. Telling your errant brother to get back to the sacraments is evangelizing. We are becoming a faith of robots if we think we can’t pray without something electronic. If the chapel is too dim – bring a pen light.

  18. I spoke about this with one of our priests, and he felt electronics during adoration would be appropriate, ONLY if one was using it as an aid to prayer (using the Laudate app to pray, for example) but for a person who would find it too tempting to check emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter etc, he said it would be best to avoid it completely. There are many devotionals dedicated to how one should spend their ‘hour of adoration’ and many divide it into segments..20 min of spiritual reading (so i can see a kindle or Laudate app being utilized for that) 20 min of meditation, 20 min silent rosary (again and app might be used to aid in meditation of the Mysteries). It all comes down to how you pray and whether the electronic device is an aid to grace or an aid to temptation.

  19. I know exactly how you feel. When I first became a Christian, I wanted to get out at red lights and shout at the other drivers; do you know how great Jesus is! I believe we should always be that way.

  20. Definitely definitely a big NO to tweeting, texting, etc. in the Adoration Chapel. While it’s “nice” and “convenient” to have “Godly Notes” on Evernote or the Divine Mercy Chaplet, there are several issues with this, the first being that it sets a TERRIBLE example for other people in the chapel who may not know or understand why you have your phone or tablet (or heaven forbid, laptop) out. For those who are addicted to social media and the internet, this will not even allow them a reprieve from the constant temptation. There are plenty of books written on paper that clearly state what they are that you can be reading. If you don’t have a printed version of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, then use your device – – at home. If it’s too dim to read (or whatever other vision issue you may have), then use that time to pray and meditate and to just BE with Our Lord. Please let this be one, sacred refuge from the world.

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