Frequently asked questions


  1. Is this site Catholic?
  2. Universalis doesn't agree with what my missal/breviary/priest says. Why?
  3. Whenever I visit the web site, it tells me that today is January 11. Help!
  4. Divine Office, Liturgy of the Hours, Breviary - why so many names?
  5. What is the Invitatory Psalm?
  6. "Psalm 94(95)": Why do some psalms have two numbers?
  7. What are the stars * and daggers † in the psalms?
  8. What translations are you using?
  9. I have an obligation to recite the Office. Can I use your site?
  10. Can I print out your pages for my own use?
  11. Can I print out your pages for other people's use?
  12. Can I copy bits of your Web site into mine?
  13. Can I put links to your Web site into mine?
  14. Is this site approved by the Catholic Church?
  15. What about the Responsorial Psalm at Mass?
  16. What about the Psalm-Prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours?
  17. What about the two-year cycle in the Office of Readings?
  18. How do I add Universalis to Google Calendar?
  19. What calendar should I use?
  20. Do you publish any books or CD-ROMs?

Is this site Catholic?

Yes, it is. The Mass readings and the Liturgy of the Hours are those of the Catholic Church and their content is the same as in the Latin edition of the Liturgy of the Hours published by the Vatican. The calendar used is the General Calendar, with local calendars included where we have details of them.

Universalis doesn't agree with what my missal/breviary/priest says. Why?

This question is about different texts. If you are concerned about a different translation, see this answer.

If the calendars don't match, then either you've chosen the wrong local calendar for your location, or we've got something wrong. Please let us know if you find any discrepancies: there are bound to be some because this is such a large project.

Similarly, do please let us know if a reading doesn't match what you expect.  It could well be that we've mistyped something.

On the other hand it may just be that there is more than one allowable reading for the day in question, or that your book has got things wrong. This blog entry goes into more detail. This blog entry gives a detailed example where the lectionaries seem to get it wrong and Universalis (together with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) gets it right. (Actually, the lectionaries are right if you read the rubrics carefully, but it's easy not to notice this).

If you see a discrepancy you don't understand, do ask us. Let us know what you expected to see and what you are seeing, and we will do our best to help.

If Psalm 94(95) appears inside an Hour when you would have expected something else, this is not a mistake but the result of an allowable variation in the Invitatory Psalm.

One final point about the Office of Readings: Universalis is based on the 1985 edition of the Latin Breviary, which is a bit of a mess in that the General Introduction refers to a 2-year cycle of Scripture and patristic readings but never specifies it; and the texts in the breviary itself are for a 1-year cycle. Universalis therefore does this 1-year cycle of readings. Now that details of 2-year cycles are more widely available, Universalis may at some point switch to a 2-year cycle, but given the amount of translation that needs to be done, this won't happen at once.

Whenever I visit the web site, it tells me that today is January 11. Help!

If Universalis appears to get stuck on a particular date, and it stays the same day after day, this is not a fault in the site, but a problem at your end.

Check the URL that you are using
It is just possible that the Web address (URL) that you are using to access Universalis has a date built into it. Look at the address that your browser says it is displaying (the thing that begins with http://www.universalis.com/).  If it has an 8-digit number in it somewhere (something like /20020111/) then that is an explicit date. Remove the date and one of the slashes, and try again. (If you see something like /0100/ or /-0500/ then don't worry, because that is a time zone and not a date).
About the cache
Your web browser stores recently accessed pages on your computer (in an area called a "cache"), so that if you ask for a page again, it does not have to go back to the original site and retrieve it again.  This cacheing process is a good thing, because it saves time and Internet traffic, but it can be a bad thing if the page has changed since the last time you looked at it - your browser won't know this, because it won't be looking at the site in order to check.
Universalis relies on using a single page address for today's readings, which means that so the content of a Universalis page will change from day to day. The HTTP standard, which defines how web pages are retrieved and used, has a provision for this: if a page contains an expiry time, then the browser should discard that page from the cache when that time is reached, and should retrieve the page again if the user asks for it.
Universalis marks all the pages that it generates with an expiry time, and most of the time, most people's browsers respect it, and all is well.  Very occasionally, something goes wrong and the browser obstinately remembers a Universalis page long after it should have forgotten it: this means that every time you visit Universalis, your browser doesn't even bother to contact us: it just serves up the same old page over and over again.
Check your computer's date and time
If your computer's battery has gone flat and it thinks that this is 1980, the browser will keep Universalis pages (which expire in 2003 or later) for ever.
Shift + Refresh
With many browsers, if you hold down Shift while pressing the Refresh button, you are telling the browser to ignore the cache and go straight to the web site.
Clearing the cache
For a more general solution, you can empty the cache and start again.  In Internet Explorer, you do this by selecting "Tools > Internet Options > General > Browsing History > Delete > Temporary Internet Files".In Opera, use "File > Preferences > History and Cache". In Firefox, use "Tools > Clear Private Data". In Safari, use "Edit > Empty Cache". In Google Chrome, click on the "Customise and Control" spanner and then select "Clear Browsing Data > Empty the Cache".
If this doesn't help
There must be another cache operating between you and us. Possibly you are accessing the Internet through a "proxy server", which is a computer that acts as a cache and filter on behalf of a whole group of users - the users on a local network, or the customers of a particular Internet service provider. If this is the case, you will have to contact whoever is responsible for the proxy and get them to make it work properly; or find a way of telling your browser to connect directly without using the proxy at all.

Divine Office, Liturgy of the Hours, Breviary - why so many names?

It is called the Liturgy of the Hours because the different parts of it are intended for different hours of the day. In "Divine Office", the word "Office" has its older meaning of "function, purpose, duty". "Breviary" has the same root as "abbreviation". It is so called because it is a single compendium that brings together antiphonals, lectionaries, responsories, and other sources of liturgical materials.

What is the Invitatory Psalm?

The Invitatory Psalm opens the whole Office of each day: it calls us together to pray and praise God throughout the day's work. You should recite it at the beginning of the first Hour that you say each day. On the Web we provide two versions of Morning Prayer and the Office of Readings, one including the Invitatory Psalm and the other omitting it. In the downloads, the Invitatory Psalm is presented in a separate page.

The Liturgy gives you two options with the Invitatory Psalm. Either you can use Psalm 94(95) always, or you can choose between Psalms 94(95), 99(100), 66(67), and 23(24). In the Universalis downloads we offer you two choices: "Psalm 94(95) always" or "Rotate among the allowable Invitatory Psalms".  On the Universalis web site we always rotate, to give you more variety.

There is one slightly unexpected consequence of this rotation through the Invitatory Psalms. Suppose that the rotation has brought up Psalm 99(100) as the Invitatory Psalm to be used today, but that psalm happens to appear in (say) Morning Prayer. In that case the rules say that in Morning Prayer Psalm 99(100) should be replaced by Psalm 94(95), to stop you having to recite the same psalm twice. Universalis follows these rules exactly. We only mention this here in case you wonder why, on such a day, the choice of Morning Prayer psalms doesn't match what is printed in the books.

What translations are you using?

The Mass readings, and the Scripture readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, are from the Jerusalem Bible. The Jerusalem Bible is authorised for liturgical use at Mass in the United Kingdom and in several other parts of the English-speaking world. (By the way, if you are thinking of buying a bible, you should be aware that the New Jerusalem Bible is different from the Jerusalem Bible).

In the downloadable versions of Universalis (iPhone/iPad, Android, Mac and Windows), the Mass readings (and only the Mass readings) are also available in the New American Bible version, which is authorised for liturgical use in the United States. This version cannot be displayed on the Web for copyright reasons. In the United States you get the RSV (1st Catholic Edition) for the readings in the Liturgy of the Hours. From December 2024 England, Wales and Scotland will start using the English Standard Version (ESV) and this will be included in the downloadable versions.

There are two versions of the psalms and antiphons in the Liturgy of the Hours in Universalis.

Why do some psalms have two numbers?

Hebrew bibles and Greek/Latin bibles number the psalms differently.

Greek Hebrew  
1-8 1-8 Hebrew=Greek
9 9 and 10  
10-112 11-113 Hebrew=Greek+1
113A 114  
113B 115  
114 116 Hebrew=Greek+2
115 116 Hebrew=Greek+1
116-145 117-146 Hebrew=Greek+1
146 and 147 147  
148-150 148-150 Hebrew=Greek

The Greek numbering is used for liturgical purposes, and the Hebrew numbering for scriptural studies. On the Universalis site, we quote both numbers, Greek first and then Hebrew: eg. Psalm 94(95).

In the USA, the Hebrew numbering is used in the liturgy as well. Converting the numbers from Greek to Hebrew has caused an error in the US Lectionary: the psalm for Thursday of the thirteenth week in Ordinary Time in Year I of the two-year cycle is Psalm 114(116), but the American liturgist calculated 114+1=115, so in the USA and the USA alone, Psalm 113B(115) is mandated. This mistake is not repeated on Sunday of the 24th week of Year B of the three-year cycle, where the correct psalm, 114(116), is used.

What are the stars * and daggers † in the psalms?

These symbols are guides for chanting the psalms. The most common pattern is "out and back", where the first line goes up at the end and the second line goes down:

The fírst line goes up at the énd, *
and the sécond comes dówn again.

Sometimes the verse is longer, so there is an extra line at the beginning that goes nowhere:

The nóughth line is all on one note; †
the fírst line goes up at the énd, *
and the sécond comes dówn again.

These symbols appear in the Latin, and in the apps and programs they can appear in the English also if you turn on the appropriate setting.

The accents indicate stresses. The Grail psalms structure lines according to the number of stresses they contain, rather than the number of syllables.

I have an obligation to recite the Office. Can I use your site?

We are happy for you to do this. However, if you are using the web version of Universalis (as opposed to an app, program or e-book) you should bear in mind that the psalms are not the officially approved translations.

On the other hand, if you are in a situation where you don't have your breviary with you, using Universalis is certainly far, far better than doing nothing at all.

Can I print out your pages for my own use?

You are welcome to do so.

Can I print out your pages for other people's use?

We have to be a bit careful here. We do not want you to do anything that might infringe or weaken our copyright, so we must ask you to contact us before you reproduce anything. We'll normally be happy to let you reproduce as long as (a) you don't do it for gain and (b) you credit us, with our Web address (www.universalis.com) and (c) we judge the quantity, frequency, and purpose to be reasonable.

Can I copy bits of your Web site into mine?

No. On the other hand, if you want the effect of having Universalis content in your own site, there may be ways round this prohibition. Look at our Free Services for Webmasters page for some suggestions.

Can I put links to your Web site into mine?

You are very welcome to do so. How to Link to Us gives some guidance. If you would like a link from us to you from our Links page, you have only to ask.

Is this site approved by the Catholic Church?

Liturgy of the Hours: Everyone who has heard of the project has been enthusiastic and supportive, from parish priests and religious to senior figures in the Church. We can see from our sales records that many priests and bishops have bought the downloadable versions (some cardinals use Universalis as well). However, this is not a clone of any one of the printed books, and so the site cannot receive official approval. We believe that this is unfortunate, but we fully understand the reasons for this policy and support its application.

This situation is scheduled to change when the current revision of the Breviary is complete. The revisers are aware of the need to license electronic versions of the texts. Various dates have been put forward for the completion of the revised version, but it is a complicated process and the best thing is to say that it will be ready when it is ready.

Mass: All the texts shown here (Order of Mass, and readings and prayers) are the official texts, officially authorised.

What about the Responsorial Psalm at Mass?

The owners of the Responsorial Psalm don't allow it to be published on the Internet. It is present in all the Universalis downloads.

What about the Psalm-Prayers in the Hours?

The psalm-prayers are prayers after each psalm, to deepen the reflection on that psalm. They do not officially exist, yet. They were put into the 1970 revision of the Liturgy of the Hours but never published.

The General Introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours talks about a “Supplement” which includes the psalm-prayers, but the Supplement hasn’t been published yet. (On the other hand, it’s only 53 years late).

Because the texts exist even though they are unpublished, the compilers of the American-language breviary include them in their books. It is important to note that these psalm-prayers are completely optional: you should use them if you find them helpful and not use them if you do not. (It appears that one of the reasons for not including the psalm-prayers in the official 1970 revision was precisely the fear that people might misunderstand this point.)

We have been given copies of the unpublished psalm-prayers, and each of our apps and programs will let you choose whether you want to see the psalm-prayers. These psalm-prayers are available in both English and Latin.

Some psalm-prayers exist in two alternative versions. The printed American books print one version only; Universalis will show you both.

What about the two-year cycle in the Office of Readings?

Until practically the last minute, the Office of Readings was going to be enriched by having its First (biblical) and Second (patristic) readings spread over a two-year cycle, allowing thorough coverage of the whole of Scripture. Unfortunately, at the last minute, practical considerations intervened and the two-year cycle was abbreviated (hurriedly and dramatically, according to some stories) to a one-year one.

Accordingly, although the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours goes into great detail about the make-up of the two-year cycle, the actual published Liturgy of the Hours only has a one-year cycle of readings.

This blog post goes into more detail, but basically the situation with Universalis is that the published and printed one-year cycle is provided by default, but you can switch to a two-year cycle if you prefer it. The two-year cycle is also official as far as the First Readings are concerned, but the situation with the Second Readings is more complicated: we use the official one-year Second Readings, but match them to the two-year First Readings whenever it is possible.

How do I add Universalis to Google Calendar?

  1. Go to the calendar page.
  2. Go to the bottom of the page and make sure that the local calendar in "Calendar used" is the one you want.
  3. At the bottom of the page, press the button marked "Add to Google Calendar".

What local calendar should I use?

Different localities have different local calendars of their own.  These have some local feasts, and occasionally transfer celebrations of the General Calendar to a different date.  Each of the pages with the Hours and the Mass readings has links which let you choose the local calendar you want.

Do you publish any books or CD-ROMs?

No, we do not: we only publish web pages, apps, programs, and e-books.