You know you’re supposed to be there, but as you wait for your turn in the pew, you just can’t help the feeling of wanting to flee. Whether it’s the fact that you honestly don’t know why you’re there – other than feeling like it’s “time” – you can’t remember what you’re supposed to say to the priest, you’re afraid you’re going to screw something up, and so forth.
Furthermore, even though one may want to be a “good Catholic,” it’s not necessarily an easy task knowing when to pop into the confessional and speak frankly of your faults and shortcomings with your priest.
Perhaps it would be far less stressful if you had an iPhone app that would tell you exactly what you needed to do to prepare, what to do once there, how to interact with and respond to the priest, future reflections, etc.
Reuters recently broke the news that Pope Benedict XVI officially sanctioned what creator Little iAppscalls, calls “the perfect aid for every penitent.” Discussion quickly followed, as Time, BBC, PC Mag – and many, many others – covered the controversial creation.
Contrary to first impressions, this app is not intended to confuse or replace the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation; rather, this tool serves as an aid to the penitent, reviewing the procedure of the sacrament and the expectations therein.
Much like FitNow’s Lose It! app, which tracks your daily caloric intake and exercise, the $1.99 Confession: A Roman Catholic App allows you to track your sins and your penance, respectively. Before entering the confessional, one can be fully prepared, have proper expectations and undergo a quick refresher on the following series of events and prayers.
The app clearly has a purpose, and more so, it has the potential of helping one to become a better Catholic. Though, at the same time, this very tool could easily become a fad, something whose seemingly significant purpose and ability to make a substantial and positive change in its users’ lives comes and goes as quickly as Kabbalah in Hollywood.
The app almost portrays faith as an object of convenience, rather than something ingrained in daily life or a thing of true value; it almost makes the concept of faith a game or a burden to track in one’s planner.
It’s not that the pope made a poor decision to sanctify the app, either; the real question is exactly how the app owner uses it.
During the 45th World Day of Social Communications in January 2011, the pope compared the significance and impact of the current cultural and social developments to that of the Industrial Revolution, which brought “a profound transformation in society by the modifications it introduced….” He continued, stating that with such new capabilities once thought impossible, they demand serious reflection. Essentially, he urged that – most of all – young people “make good use of their presence in the digital world.”
Technology, whether it’s simplifying lives or creating one more platform necessary for monitoring them, is the future. Our generation sees it as a necessity, as a recent survey from Pace University and the Participatory Media Network shows that 99% of 18- to 24-year-olds have social network profiles.
Whether it’s how we communicate to our professors outside of class, how we tout our client’s most recent news item or how we prepare for confession, social media and technology has irrevocably penetrated our lives. And perhaps for the better.
I can’t quite say that I’m not planning on snagging my roommate’s iPhone before going to confession or perhaps borrowing it on a daily basis to log my sins and track my penance…I just can’t say that it will necessarily be something that will last forever, or be as impactful as initially perceived or perhaps intended.