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Confessing Sins to My iPod

Sin. Everybody’s against it. But everybody does it, so we must like it.

Growing up Catholic, as I have, you learn a lot about sin.

I won’t tell you my personal favorites, but there are lots of sins to choose from: Lust. Jealousy. Lust. Anger. Lust. Drunkenness. Lust. Disrespect to parents. Lust. And I left out all the really juicy ones.

Okay, I probably shouldn’t joke about it. Sin is a serious matter. That’s true even if some people think that perfectly okay things are sinful. They won’t dance or listen to music because they’re afraid of going to hell. Others won’t let a drop of alcohol pass their lips. And others are big into chastity.

Avoiding sin isn’t really about being obsessed with our guilt or being afraid of punishment. It’s about being the best people we can be. Some of us take it to extremes, but the idea is still valid.

The Catholic solution is to recognize that we’re inevitably going to sin, so we need a way to make up for it. We make up for it by confessing our sins to a priest, who prescribes a penance and grants absolution.

Confession on Your iPod

It had been a while since I went to confession, so I got a new app for my iPod Touch: “Confession: A Roman Catholic App.” It was developed with advice from two priests and has the official App-roval of a Bishop in Indiana.

First, you enter your name, sex, birthdate, and some other information so it can personalize the questions and advice it gives you. Under Vocation, I was going to put “student,” but I found out it means religious vocation or marital status. So I put single. For the date of my last confession, let’s just say that I’ve committed a few sins since then.

After you login, it creates a “custom examination of conscience” asking about how well you’ve followed the 10 Commandments. Each Commandment gets its own screen. On each screen, there’s a checklist of things you should do or not do according to that Commandment. As you work through the checklists, the app compiles the sins you should confess.

I was okay on the first commandment, but I had a little trouble with the second. Yes, I probably have used God’s name lightly or carelessly. Yes, I have wished evil on another person, but it didn’t last long and I try not to do anything evil to other people.

Third commandment, I didn’t do very well on that, because I’ve missed Mass and done work on Sunday. Fourth, I’m fine on that.

The fifth commandment, I knew that screen would have a question about abortion. I haven’t had one. But I have probably abused alcohol a time or two.

Sixth commandment about adultery. Well, I haven’t been involved with anyone who’s married. It also asks about any sexual activity outside of marriage, impure thoughts, dressing modestly, and a couple other things. If you don’t mind, I’ll keep my answers private on those.

I’m sure that the questions about abortion and “dressing modestly” were there because I’m a 21-year-old woman. So the app really does customize the questions for who’s using it. That’s why it wants your sex and age.

Seventh, pretty much okay. Eighth, yes I’ve gossiped and I sometimes have uncharitable thoughts. Ninth is all about impure thoughts, and I have those: in some situations quite a few. Tenth, yes I do sometimes envy what other people have.

Based on your sins and how long it has been since your last confession, the app displays a customized introduction for you. Then it gives you a list of sins to confess to the priest, based on the answers you gave earlier. As you confess a sin, you touch the iPod screen to check it off your list. When you’ve finished the list, the app gives you a prayer of contrition and tells you how to respond to what the priest says.

A Good App for Everyone

Even though the app is designed for Catholics, a lot of the questions it asks apply to people of any religion or even no religion.

It’s easy to make fun of something like this. But “Confession” is a good tool for anyone to examine if they’re being the kind of people they want to be.

Copyright 2011 by Rinth de Shadley.

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