Q. How do you know if one of your friends has the iPhone?
A. He will tell you.
Unfortunately, the joke above is founded on reality. There is something of a social status attached to possession of the iPhone, a Blackberry, and such like, and the manufacturers of these contraptions play on it. It is, for instance, not possible for me to post to Facebook from my iPhone without the Facebook application leaving a public note in addition to my comment explicitly stating that I have done just that. For the first time ever, I have full access to all of my e-mail accounts on the go, yet if I send an e-mail to somebody, the signature line that automatically appears reads "Sent from my iPhone". At least I have the ability to change this but the default setting is nothing more than a boast. None of this is particularly lenten or indeed Orthodox in spirit.
So why do I have it? Well, this is not the place for discussion of my unseemly and unlenten lusting after material possessions or for extolling the benefits of the iPhone. Let it suffice to say that some of the practicalities of life, including church life, will be made considerably easier and more efficient now that I own one. So how do I go about easing my conscience and possibly helping others at the same time?
Well, there are applications and other software compatible with the iPhone that are designed to aid the spiritual life of Orthodox Christians. I have done much googling and have found the following that I have so far found useful. You can find these by searching for the titles in the iTunes store. iTunes can be downloaded here. I bring them together in one place here for the benefit of my sisters and brothers who may benefit from them and who may find it a difficult or tedious task to find them in various places on the internet.
This is the well-known calendar from the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church (which can be viewed in the sidebar of this blog), but as an app optimised for the iPhone. It gives the Saints and other commemorations for each day, along with the main troparia and kontakia, the fasting rule, the full text of the daily appointed readings both from Scripture and the Synaxarion (Martyrology), and a selection of icons for many days of the year. While the default is to give the details for the current day, any other date may be easily viewed instead.
(I understand that the Greek Archdiocese of North America has produced something similar for those who follow the calendar of Meletios Metaksakis. I will not be linking to it from here but think that this knowledge may be useful to some readers).
Ancient Faith Radio
Just what it says on the tin. You can listen to the music or talk versions of AFR on the iPhone by downloading this app. I find the talk on AFR to be really rather good but my preferred option for the music is the next one.
Orthodox Christian Network
I have actually always preferred the music of the Rudder on OCN to that on AFR and I'm delighted that this is also available as an app. I would recommend this for Orthodox music on the go. Of course, the Ark is also available for people who like That Sort Of Thing™.
There is, however, a flaw in this app and the previous one. The iPhone allows for audio apps to continue running in the background while the user does other things, so it is possible to listen to music, news reports, and such like while sending text messages, browsing the internet, or whatever. For some reason, these two apps don't allow for this. If you try to go to another app while listening to either of them, the audio will simply stop, so you will have to choose between either forgoing your music while you do other things on the one hand, and listening to your music but restricting your ability to use the phone for anything else on the other. I hope they fix this in future releases.
This is not a specifically Orthodox app, but there are numerous books available for purchase and download through Kindle, including many Orthodox books. Among them is the Orthodox Study Bible, complete with patristic footnotes. I would recommend exploring this app and seeing what other Orthodox treasures are there to be had.
For those for whom the cost of the OSB download would perhaps be a little steep, the Douay-Rheims Bible is available in a number of apps. It seems the nearest thing to a complete Orthodox bible available in English in this format.
Be slightly wary of this one. It is from an independent group and contains one or two minor things peculiar to that group. However, if you are willing to ignore the small amount of strangeness, you will find a superb selection of daily prayers, patristic quotations, catechetical materialas, a calculator of the date of Pascha and the moveable dates based thereon, as well as the text of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. Despite my caution, this is the best Orthodox app that I have found so far.
While searching the developer's website for the purposes of this post, I stumbled upon PrayDaily, another app from the same source, which seems to be a collection of prayers for various times of day, various needs, mealtimes, and such like. I have not used it myself so cannot recommend it but it may be downloaded here in case you wish to explore it.
Orthodox Prayer Book
This contains a good selection of prayers for different times of day, before and after meals, and for many needs in life. There is also the provision to compose one's own prayers and thoughts for each day, and to save them for future use. Prayers take a reader service format, making them usable in the absence of a priest without the need for on-the-spot modifications. This is a very good app, attractively laid out, and ideal perhaps for commuters to be able to set aside some time during those busy days to pray without lugging a book around. In future releases, I would like to see a preparation for Confession included (along with evidence that at least some proofreading has taken place) but otherwise, this is an excellent app and I would certainly recommend downloading it.
Early Christian Fathers
This is the book as it appears on the CCEL website, which contains a wealth of patristic and early conciliar material. Anybody already familiar with that site will know what a treasure this is. (Also available are the "Confessions" of Augustine of Hippo, from the same source.)
These are the few that I have found, considered worth downloading, and used. I am sure that there are others and I would be grateful if reader were to share them in the "comments" section. For instance, there is the "Church Slavonic Bible", which I do not have but which I imagine could be useful for practising reading Cyrillic script.
Orthodoxy hasn't really taken off in this area in the way that Catholicism particularly and Christianity more generally have, and these things are difficult for an individual to gather together. The more we share with each other, the better for us all, I think.
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