App Goes To Confession

People can be finicky about confessing sins. Likely it has always been so. It struck me as illustrative that the parody apps came out before the real thing.

In the news this week is the release of a Church-endorsed (imprimatur and all) iPhone application to help a penitent make a good examination of conscience and confession. This is not the confession booth app where you can confess and have others give you the thumbs up or down. Or this one.

Check this one out.

From the web site, here are the features:

  • Custom examination of conscience based upon age, sex, and vocation (single, married, priest, or religious
  • Multiple user support with password protected accounts
  • Ability to add sins not listed in standard examination of conscience
  • Confession walkthrough including time of last confession in days, weeks, months, and years
  • Choose from 7 different acts of contrition
  • Custom interface for iPad
  • Full retina display support

There’s a certain salaciousness that comes with confession in the talk show/celebrity era. Tabloid headlines at grocery checkout plead for my interest in some famous person’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I don’t think the current culture is averse to sin as much as they make a spectacle of it. And mockery raises it’s ugly head too. Every serious ethical or moral person has a balance to maintain: how to maintain a healthy balance between confidence and contrition and avoid deceiving oneself in any sort of indulgence at either extreme.

That said, this looks like a good development. Used in concert with a good spiritual director, I can see it being very useful. Any confessors seen penitents with iPads or iPhones lately? This was one of the testimonials on the Apple site:

As a straying Catholic looking to come back to the Church more fully, this app gave me the extra confidence I needed to go to my first confession. The examination of conscience was a great start in taking a look at my wrongdoings. Unfortunately, my confession did not follow the guidelines on the ‘confession’ section of the app, but I believe that was because my priest chose to go a more unorthodox route(?).

I’d be very interested in seeing what the liturgical expectations in this app are. Does it include Scripture readings as the rite suggests? Any users out there with feedback on it?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Rite of Penance, spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to App Goes To Confession

  1. Chip says:

    I’m one of the developers of the app. We did not include the words or actons of the priest within the app, only what the penitent must say and do. We had to be careful because the Rite of Penance is copyrighted and we did not want to get in trouble. The confession section follows this order: sign of the cross, “father, it has been X (days|weeks|months|years) since my last confession”, a list of the sins that the penitent wanted to remember, the act of contritition that the user wanted to use, respond to absolution with “amen”, and then psalm 136:1 (if it is used). Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to respond in a timely manner.

    • Todd says:

      Chip, thanks for the input.

      The comment from the user intrigued me, as what might seem “unorthodox” (an unfortunate term) might actually be part of a more traditional questioning approach by the confessor. A priest might not have let his penitent get away with a stiff reading of sins, but quizzed him for more of a sense of contrition.

      Additionally, the rite calls for the priest to (optionally) read a Scripture passage. As a liturgist, I think that should be a standard approach, but I know it’s likely not.

      As for the legal issues, yes the Rite of Penance and some translations of the Bible are copyrighted. It is possible to get permission to “reprint” them in an electronic format.

      I’d have to see the app to check it out for what you *could* do with it.

      Off the top of my head I’d say an app for planning a wedding liturgy might have some promise. It would be necessary to get the copyright permission to produce readings, prayers, vows, and those options.

    • Mike K says:

      Chip–

      As I don’t yet have an iPhone or iPad (hoping to get the iPhone once Verizon gives it 4G and all the bugs are worked out), I can’t download it presently, but will note the imprimatur from Bishop Kevin Rhoades – a bishop who is considered “conservative” but has a clue on how to evangelize (something everyone from any side of the spectrum can agree needs to happen more often). Praise God!

      As someone who is poor at examining his conscience (probably because of the slight bit of ADD I have and my general weakness at being self-critical), I look forward to downloading this app and using it quite frequently. Thank you for your effort in producing it!

  2. I uploaded it yesterday, Chip and Todd, I think it’s a keeper. As Todd and God knows, I go tangential quite easily and often, and advanced aging creeping up steadily….yikes. This will be a great help to keep me focused and on track with my confessors, and enable me to systematically examine my sinful failures with a clear eye.

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