When it rains it pours… the CTV called me today about doing a segment for Canada AM (Wednesday, 9 Feb, 2011 at 7:40 am ET) on a new App for Confession…or as we more properly call it… the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The new App by Little iApps is a novelty in that it has an “imprimatur” from one of the U.S. bishops. An imprimatur (latin for let it be published) means that there is nothing in the content that is contrary to the faith. It’s not quite the same as an endorsement.
I got the App for my iphone and at first I was both a little skeptical and freaked out by it. Skeptical because I had already seen some screen shots of the pages and it seemed like a laundry list of “sins”. This is not exactly the way I like to approach the sacrament for myself or for those to whom I minister. The freaky part was when the App required as user name, date of birth, date of last confession, state in life (single, married, religious, priest) and password. TMI!!!! Is this going to get uploaded to the Vatican???
In fact it’s quite the contrary. There seems to be good security… everything gets wiped out after you celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The information requested actually creates a personalized examination of conscience ( a reflection on your life). In my case, as a friar, a member of a religious order, it guided me through questions about my vows… even asking things like lust, masturbation and flirting. For a second I thought this was another sex obsessed group trying to push their negative agenda. But in fact the questions were just as challenging in othe areas of life.
To be sure this App uses very traditional wording and theology. Traditional in the sense that it’s a checklist of things you should not do. It’s focus is not on the virtues for which you strive and at which you sometimes fail…. ok often fail 🙂
After the reflection process, the App takes you step-by-step through the actual celebration of the Sacrament. Funny enough it isn’t entirely accurate… well kind of… In fact when the person comes to celebrate the Sacrament the priest is supposed to great them and share some Sacred Scripture with them ( a short reading from the bible). In my experience I have rarely seen priests do this. I sometimes try it with people in my parish and people look at me kind of weird… Anyways… I just thought that a new App might attempt to get us into the habit of starting with God’s Word.
Where was I? The App takes you through the Sacrament and after having recalled how much God loves us and when the time comes to confess your sins (that’s where the name Confession comes from) the App gives you a listing of all the “sins” you checked off during your reflection. Then you are prompted to express your sorrow for your sins (you would have previously selected the formula for expressing this, which is called an Act of Contrition) and then the App guides you to the conclusion of the Sacrament.
So would I use it? I think it might be helpful to prepare for the Sacrament… the checklist does get one thinking… for sure. As a priest and confessor, if a person came in with the iphone, smartphone or ipad, I would probably think it was kind of cool. But then after lusting after the technology, I would gently tell them to put it away.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not counselling or therapy. It’s not a spiritual car wash. It is an act of worship, primarily focused on God and God’s great mercy, kindness and love for us. It’s all about HIM! The priest is the human vehicle, the beating heart that the penitent interacts with to encounter God’s love. In the Confession it’s beating heart connecting with beating heart… it’s a moment of great spiritual intimacy where the priest is called to express the tenderness and compassion of God. Not even my beloved Apple has an App for that!
The App is called Confession: A Roman Catholic App is available for $1.99 US… a bargain for Canadians 🙂