by Fr Richard Heilman | December 15, 2015 10:14 AM
The picture shown above is the walkway to my rectory where I offer the Sacrament of Confession anytime I am home.
After many months, the “My Confessor” app is up and running again! Here was the original story from the NY Daily News back in 2013 – read HERE. Shortly after using the app in 2013 we, unfortunately, found many bugs in it and needed to take it down. The new version was just made available in the App Store today!!
The app is free to download from the Apple App Store. Just search “My Confessor” or download it HERE. It is only available for Apple phones right now, but we hope to make it available for Androids soon. For now, I am the only priest using it, while we check for bugs … I’m the guinea pig; the test rat 😉 . So, Catholics in my area with Apple phones will be able to take advantage of it. Any priests who want to be on an email list for future notifications when it becomes available for all priests, can email me at email@example.com
We’ve redesigned the look 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 🙂 ).
The app is quite simple. 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.
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. I know many of my brother priests will say that this is all the time that is necessary, since few go to Confession anymore. 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. Also, I have discovered that many are simply uncomfortable with “face-to-face.” It could be that they are embarrassed of their sins, or just that this format is uncomfortable for some. By providing a way for them to simply check my availability on an app, and still have the opportunity to participate in the Sacrament anonymously, I am hopeful this will make the Sacrament accessible to many more people.
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