When I gave the imprimatur for the text of the iPhone application created by three faith-filled young men in South Bend on preparing for confession, I did not know that this was the first time a bishop had given an imprimatur for material on an app. I also did not anticipate the huge response by the media. Last week was quite a week as we received calls and messages from media throughout the world.
Part of the reason for all the attention was that some media sources erroneously reported or suggested that the app allowed one to go to confession via iPhone. That certainly is not possible and it was more than puzzling that anyone would think that the application could replace in-person confession. Nothing on the app would suggest such a thing. It is meant to help penitents prepare for confession. These false press reports sowed some unnecessary confusion.
Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman for the Vatican, explained to reporters, as I have done, that one cannot go to confession via iPhone. He explained that the new application can be useful in helping people make an examination of conscience. It can help people to prepare for the sacrament of Reconciliation. I commend the creators of the app for their work and creativity. I am hearing from people around the world how helpful this app is for them, especially young people who are engaged in this newer technology.
Perhaps all the publicity generated is a very positive thing since it has people talking about the sacrament of Penance. The interest in, and popularity of the new app shows that many are open to learning more about this great sacrament and are seeking help in preparing for confession.
This week I was reminded of the words of Pope Benedict at the Mass he celebrated at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., in 2008. Speaking of the sacrament of Penance, he said: “The liberating power of this sacrament, in which our honest confession of sin is met by God’s merciful word of pardon and peace, needs to be rediscovered and reappropriated by every Catholic. To a great extent, the renewal of the Church in America and throughout the world depends on the renewal of the practice of Penance and the growth in holiness which that sacrament both inspires and accomplishes.” I pray that the new app, developed here in our diocese by three fine young people, with the assistance of two of our priests, will contribute to this renewal which our Holy Father encouraged.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, we will hear the words of Jesus: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The Lord calls us to holiness.
In order to reach this perfection, to grow in holiness, we need the Lord’s grace. We need the Holy Spirit to give us grace for repentance and conversion. Jesus gives us the wonderful sacrament of Penance for the forgiveness of our sins. It restores us to God’s grace. It revitalizes our hearts and souls so that we can grow in holiness.
Christ personally addresses us every time we go to confession. Through the priest, he says to us “your sins are forgiven.” This happens in a personal dialogue with the priest who acts “in the person of Christ” as he hears our confession and imparts absolution. This is something deeply personal and cannot be done through an iPhone!
We receive spiritual strength every time we receive the sacrament of Penance. I encourage all to go to confession regularly. If you need help to prepare, you may want to check out the new app!
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