by Fr Richard Heilman | February 25, 2016 4:19 PM
The app is free to download from the Apple App Store. Just search “My Confessor” or download it HERE. It is also available for Android phones HERE. For now, I am the only priest using it, while we check for bugs … I’m the guinea pig; the test rat 😉 . Any priests who want to be on an email list for future notifications when it becomes available for all priests, can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The app is quite simple. First, it is just to check for the priest’s availability … not for actually hearing confessions 😉 You can see by the little light bulb whether I am available for confession. Also, I indicate how long I will be available, and I can leave another message there too. The app also shows the Manner of Making a Confession (the “how to”), and there is also a place for making an examination of conscience. When you tap the sin, it lights up. You can keep it that way until you confess it, and then just tap it again, and it returns to normal. Finally, there is a page for FAQs. There you will find such things as my address and information for priests to contact me to be added to a list of those interested when we make this available to multiple priests.
I love the design of the app, especially because I love the painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo entitled, “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” In fact, I hung a copy of that painting in our new Confessional over in Church. As you can see, the Father is embracing the son who has returned. One of my favorite parts of the story is that “the Father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him” -Luke 15:20. The Father was looking on the horizon every moment of every day hoping *this day* would be the day he saw his son return home again. That’s what our Father in Heaven does when we stray … he hopes we choose to come home again to His embrace. Then the son thinks he is “forever garbage,” never again worthy to be called his son. The Father will hear nothing of it … “get the robe, the ring and the sandals” (all signs of being completely restored as his prince), and then they had a party, much like one would hold for dignitaries. WOW!! (check out the little dog … he is happy he is home too 🙂 ).
This is how I set things up in my rectory. After someone has checked the app and knows I am available (remaining anonymous), they come over to the front door of the rectory and ring the intercom. I then call them in and they will step into my small foyer (the pic is their view as they walk in). To their left is my office door, with a Confessional screen in it. They kneel down, and they are going to Confession (again, anonymously).
On the other side of the door, I simply wheel my office chair over, put on my violet stole, open the Confessional screen door, and greet the penitent (again, all while maintaing the anonymity of the penitent).
Just behind the penitent – on the right side of the foyer – is my private chapel. After making their Confession, penitents are welcomed to stop in before the Blessed Sacrament to offer their penance.
I believe we are living in times when secularism – inside and outside the Church – has taken a devastating toll on our people and the world. I recently wrote about it HERE. Suffice it to say that spiritual warfare will always be with us, and evil seems to be running unabated in our times. Why? Because the vast majority of us are, what I call, “Naked on the battlefield.” No Grace! So, no spiritual armor and no spiritual weapons to stand against the power of evil. Unless there is some worldwide effort to reconnect to the Divine Life of God – a brand new awakening in the power of supernatural grace – we are totally defenseless to this onslaught! So, if someone’s armor is diminished by a collection of venial sins, or lost completely by mortal sin, I want to provide an easy and accessible way to get them armed and ready for battle again.
Also, I pray doing something like this app has the effect of stressing the importance of this Sacrament of Mercy. Many speak of the phenomenon of Confession offered for 30 minutes, once a week, as actually making a statement as to its importance. But, I have also heard countless stories of parishes where, once more Confession times were offered, many began to understand the importance of Confession, and started going again.
Finally, I did this for simply logistical reasons. I think when people read in their bulletin that Confessions are available by appointment, many feel uncomfortable “bothering” the “busy” priest, and so very few, if any, call for an appointment. By providing a way for them to simply check my availability on an app, I am hopeful this will make the Sacrament accessible to many more people.
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