Society is right to be obsessed with the sacrament of confession.
News item: “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” tops all “Lifestyle” apps (digital distribution applications for users of Apple’s electronic mobile devices) at Apple’s App Store. As the Register went to press, “Confession” not only was No. 1 in the “Lifestyle” category, it was also in the Top 100 of all Smartphone applications from Apple.
The mainstream media responded as only it can. An Associated Press video clip showed a reasoned explanation from a Catholic priest and the developer of the application, but given more prominence were people on the street decrying the Vatican’s approval of “virtual confession.” Kyra Phillips of CNN further missed the subject, saying on air, “So you don’t have to go to church. You don’t have to go see the priest. All you do is you go on to this app. … You log on to it, right? And then you press the confession button and now the confession begins. …”
Society and mainstream media are obsessed about confession. They don’t ignore confession and the grace of God. They just don’t comprehend it.
Far from being a case of “Hotline to Heaven” or “Bless Me, Virtual Father, for I Have Sinned,” as the mainstream media chirped, the application stands as yet another resource for Catholics to use while examining their consciences — prior to “whispering into the ear of Christ.” In fact, the app is so good that one story reported that Protestant pastors and even non-Christians were recommending “confession.”
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the new application “could be useful in helping people make an examination of conscience.” Confession preparation often entails people reading prayer books for inspiration or, pencil in hand, walking through each commandment writing out questions and answers to fortify themselves. Now, penitents can use a touch screen that does the same thing before meeting with their confessor.
Just as Adam and Eve handed to us the capacity to sin, our need to seek forgiveness is written on our souls. Just look at the profusion of “reality” television shows that make confrontations and confessions between people key to programs’ development. The conflict is good for ratings, but it doesn’t count for anything eternal — as real confession does. It’s a profane imitation of a real, sacred thing.
In Mark’s Gospel, Christ showed a connection between physical healing and the forgiveness of sins when he healed the paralytic. In the Gospel of John, Our Lord showed the connection with spiritual healing when he forgave the woman caught in adultery.
Pope Benedict has devoted significant energy in promoting the sacrament. Last September, he told the bishops of Brazil that “Jesus came to save not those who have liberated themselves by thinking they do not need him, but the sinners who acknowledge their reliance on him.”
He said we need the Divine Sculptor to “remove the waste that makes us unrecognizable as an image of God. [Through confession], we become more and more like Christ — who is the true Image of God.”
The Holy Father knows the potential for good (and bad) that exists in new media technology. Technology can go a long way in distracting us from keeping our eyes on Christ. But the latest technology has always been used by the Church to point the way to Christ.
For instance, in this issue on page B1, the Register features a clip-out guide to the Rosary using images from The Passion of the Christ. On NCRegister.com, you can download a free resource, “How and Why to Go to Confession.” Just go to our website, click on “Resources” and then “How to Be a Catholic Guides.” EWTN has helpful books on confession at EWTNReligiousCatalogue.com.
So whether we use a Smartphone app or a booklet on Divine Mercy, let’s prepare ourselves. Especially now that we’re approaching the penitential season of Lent, our dispositions should be oriented for the long road to Calvary — a road paved with reparation and forgiveness.
Yes, society is right to be obsessed with the sacrament of confession. It is longing to be healed.