There's a buzz today about the new iPhone Confession application approved by Apple, available to millions of Catholic parishioners for a download fee of 1.99. When I first read the story on the wire this morning, I laughed a little under my breath thinking, "Really? Confessions over an iPhone? What's next?" But I held my verdict to read more of the issue.
I think it's important that we take a look at why confession is such an important piece of the church. Many of my Catholic friends scoff saying things like, "I'll just go to confession, throw up a few hail mary's, and it will all be alright." Theologically I think I struggle to see how people can knowingly go into a sinful act and regulate their forgiveness through an act of penance, but hey…I'm still learning.
Some of my Protestant friends always poke fun of the time honored tradition, or better yet Sacrament of the Catholic church called confessions. They point to verses in the Bible where they don't need anyone to stand in the way of forgiveness because Jesus completed all the forgiveness ever needed when He died on the cross and rose from the grave. They claim a direct line to God through the priesthood of Jesus.
I do, however; think there's another way to look at this.
Confession is a wonderful part of connecting our lives with others. Sure, it's silly to just walk up to a group of your friends and start throwing up the last months worth of sin in hopes they'll just turn the other way. We all know how Gossip starts, and most of the time our 'friends' aren't able to handle the gravity of what we're dealing with.
So to have a place where we might go and "Confess your sins one to another and pray and be healed" (James 5:16) is an important part of our faith. In face, I might go so far to say it's a necessary part of connecting with each other.
It's easy to share the good things in life that make us feel like we are being successful on our journey. But it's hard to share the things that we do making us seem like failures. Nobody wants to hang a sign around their neck describing the embarrassing parts of their lives. NOBODY!
I think, without studying it deeper, confession is a wonderful tradition providing a safe place for the repentent to seek help and forgiveness for things in their lives that are less than extraordinary.
With all that said, the iPhone confession seemed to negate everything I was thinking. How can you connect with each other if your confession is to some cloud of technology. But then I saw this. (CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE). The Catholic News Source helped the world see the iPhone confession application isn't a replacement for confessing your sins, it's simply a pre-cursor to help people prepare.
"It's essential to understand that the sacrament of penance requires a personal dialogue between the penitent and the confessor, and absolution by the confessor who is present," Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters
So before we let this article get too much out of hand by the mainstream media, or before we created more division as we try to understand how apple has managed to work itself into the confessional booth; let's take a long hard look at why confession exists, and how this might be another great way to help people find real connection to forgiveness.
There are so many people in the world hurting because of poor decisions, the fact they can begin a journey of their own through a piece of technology might be a good thing.
What do you think?