I’m not a Catholic, however I can’t help but be fascinated by the church’s ~2000 year history. I’ve even attended a midnight mass or two on Christmas Eve with friends over the years, and I’ve got to tell you — for sheer pageantry, tradition and eye-candy, it is hard to beat a Roman Catholic service performed in a beautifully decorated cathedral complete with full portions spoken or sung in Latin; it’s really impressive.
However there are rites and procedures expected by those practicing Catholicism that I don’t fully understand, and one of them is confession. From what I have observed in movies, confession generally follows this sequence: a congregant will go to their church, step inside a confessional booth, speak to a priest through an identity-concealing screen (that never seems to truly obscure either party), confess sins committed since their last confession, receive a list of tasks in order to perform penance, perform the penance, and then receive absolution. I know I’m probably skipping a step or two, but that’s the basic gist, right? Or at least it has been until now.
There is a new iPhone app that at first glance appears to replace at least part of the confession equation … the church and the priest. But that’s not quite true: you’ll still have to show up at church for absolution, but evidently the app is supposed to help make the process less intimidating and “perhaps a bit more fun.” Really?
According to Father Edward L. Beck, C.P., a Religion Contributor for ABC News,
If you are worried about all your personal sins being viewed in cyberspace, fear not — the app customizes each user’s list and is password protected for privacy. Once you go to confession, your nefarious revelations are wiped away. So you can text your heart out on your first draft, and then decide how you want to edit your transgressions for the spoken word — all in the service of making the “big reveal” a little less ominous.
Father Beck goes on to say:
In all seriousness, I think this app may be a boon for the sacrament. While confession (or the Sacrament of Reconciliation as we professionals are wont to call it) may be on the decline, I can attest that it remains a powerful venue for grace and healing.
Some of my most poignant and transformative moments as a priest have occurred in a confessional, on both sides of the screen. I’m all for whatever makes it easier for others to take that cleansing plunge.
So I guess the confession app is a practice run, perhaps something to make the congregant feel less apprehensive about sharing … or something. I’m honestly still shaking my head and wondering about it all.
Confession: A Roman Catholic App, is available through iTunes for $1.99.
Link: ABC News
via @Holley5 on Twitter