Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
When will the mockery of the Catholic Church cease? Not anytime soon it seems.
Penance – the new free iPhone application that allows users to anonymously “confess” their sins to other users, and to give “absolution,” makes a mockery not only of the Church and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but also of the Church’s structure.
By “confessing” and “absolving,” users are able to accrue “horns” or “halos.” The more notable “confessors” are ranked with titles such as “Saints” to “Bishops,” “Cardinals,” and “Holy Father/Mother of the Church.” The highest ranking users are allowed to issue week-long edicts to those below them.
What’s fascinating is that the very same folks who like to rail against the authority and the hierarchy of the Church seem to have no problem submitting to a false hierarchy.
By creating a virtual hierarchy and a virtual “sacrament,” they’ve made a mockery of the real one – a real Sacrament with the power to transmit Christ’s grace and forgiveness through the Church’s priests.
How ironic that, while the authentic Sacrament has fallen into disuse in some areas and is practically unavailable in some parishes, that a game mocking the Sacrament is finding folks who want to take advantage of what an anonymous online “confession” can offer.
Would that the application’s users walked into a nearby Catholic Church, entered the confessional, and took advantage of an authentic anonymous confession from a real Catholic priest. In exchange, they would receive the very real saving power of Christ, a healthy dose of grace, and some divine assistance in resisting the temptations that confront them.
Culturally and spiritually, we’ve lost touch with the reality that we are, as C.S. Lewis said, born on a battlefield.
There is a supernatural world that surrounds us. There are angels and demons. There is good, and there is evil. This is Theology 101.
God will not be mocked.
As Ephesians 6:12 says, “we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
So, if we’re living on a battlefield, let’s turn then, not to the false god of technology and false “sacraments,” but to our authentic Heavenly Father and to the very real Signs and Sacraments that he’s given to us so that we might truly get closer to Him.