In his World Communications Day address in January 2010 Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Roman Catholics to "make good use of their presence in the digital world." In direct reponse to our Holy Father's invitation a tiny South Bend, IN based company called Little iApps, in partnership with two Catholic priests, has created an innovative new program for Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch they have dubbed "Confession: A Roman Catholic App". I heard about this exciting new app for the first time just a few days ago on a local radio talk show. After hearing positive feedback from a number of callers to the show I wanted to learn more. What I have discovered in just the past couple of days gives me great hope that this application may be just what is needed to return the Sacrament of Reconcilation to the prominence it once held within the Catholic Church.
Fifty or one hundred years ago going to confession was an integral part of the life of every good Catholic. Most practicing Catholics availed themselves of the Sacrament several times each year. But amid the turmoil following the Second Vatican Council which took place in the mid 1960s it seems that less and less emphasis was being placed on going to confession. Many good Catholics, myself included, fell away from the practice. And I can attest from personal experience that the longer you are away from the Sacrament the more difficult it is to return. That is why a tool like "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" can be so important. The application is a very user friendly, step-by-step guide to the sacrament. One of the key components of making a good confession is a careful examination of conscience. At the beginning of the process the user is asked to create a profile listing such personal attributes as age, marital status and gender. Next comes a careful and thorough examination of conscience which is comprised of a series of questions based on the person's age and state of life. Thus the questions asked would be quite different for a young mother and a 60 year old man. Finally, there are 7 different Acts of Contrition listed. I suppose that the idea is to choose the one that is most apropos to your own situation. Now according to the developers of the program who were recently interviewed by Diane Freeby of Catholic News Service "The app is really for two kinds of people. For Catholics who go to confession regularly it gives the user information. After entering their vital information including age, sex, vocation and last confession date it generates an examination of conscience based on that information". But perhaps more significantly, this new app is assisting another group of people. "It's also for people who have been away from the church and want the opportunity to go to confession. You go to the examination of conscience and it literally walks you through, step by step, your confession as you are in the confessional. Individuals who have been away for the sacrament for some time will find "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" to be a useful and inviting tool." I can certainly appreciate how such a program can be a huge help to those who have literally forgotten how to make a good confession.
In his 2003 book "Lord, Have Mercy: The Healing Power of Confession" the noted Catholic author and theologian Scott Hahn makes a compelling case for every Catholic to make confession an important of his/ her spiritual life. I could not agree more. I truly believe that "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" can be a tool that can help make that happen for a great many Catholics in this country and around the world. But apparently there are some misconceptions about this program that need to be cleared up. The Catholic League wants to make it abundantly clear that "This application was never designed as a substitute for Confession: on the contrary, it makes it clear that only absolution by a priest in the confessional constitutes the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Even though most Internet stories mention this, many of the headlines are misleading." I will close with an observation by the Rev. Edward Beck, ABC News religion correspondent who recalls "Some of my most poignant and transformative moments as a priest have occured in a confessional, on both sides of the screen. I'm all for whatever makes it easier for others to take that cleansing plunge." I completely concur. The average Catholic must come to a more mature understanding of this sacrament and needs to make frequent confession an important part of his/her spiritual life. Otherwise, we are sure to fall into the trap of blaming everyone else--our victims, our parents, our boss or perhaps even the government--for our own shortcomings and failures. "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" should help to make the experience much more meaningful for all of us.
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Confession: A Roman Catholic App is an application (or "app") for the iPhone that is intended to guide members of the Catholic Church through the Sacrament of Penance, also known as Confession, or Reconciliation. According to the developers, the application does not replace confessing directly to a Catholic priest, but is intended to help Catholics determine what sins they may committed, as well as guide them through the appropriate prayers in the sacrament.
The application is published by Little i Apps, LLC, and has received the Nihil Obstat from the Reverend Monsignor Michael Heintz, PhD, and an Imprimatur from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend.