May 23, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Wednesday, 23 March 2011 00:00
I confess I go to confession often — maybe too often — so I bought that new app designed to help you tabulate your sins on your iPhone the same way the IRS audits questionable tax returns. Some of you are probably scratching your heads and wondering, “Sin? What’s that? Is this guy living in the Dark Ages?”
The application, which is called “Confession: a Roman Catholic App,” is for us technophiles who Twitter and text-message like teenagers. We’re hip, we’re cool, we’re sinners.
When you type in your age, marital status and gender, the app walks you through a personalized examination of conscience based on the Ten Commandments and asks questions like, “Have I wished evil upon another person?” (every day) and “Have I abused alcohol and drugs?” (not recently) and “Have I been angry with God?” (nolo contendere) and “Have I gossiped and lied?” (never)
You can check off sins on your iPhone and create a cheat sheet to help you during those tense moments in the “reconciliation room.” Sad to say, I’ve confessed the same sins so much they’re etched on my conscience, and even the priest knows what I’m going to say next. Self-improvement isn’t one of my strong suits.
The app, however, isn’t a virtual priest, so you still have to visit the real thing, preferably with a Roman collar, to be absolved.
As a society, we’ve lost our sense of sin. We confuse right and wrong and typically choose wrong. Because of this, theft, profanity, adultery, lying, lust and envy have become socially acceptable and led to cultural phenomena like Charlie Sheen, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, Bernie Madoff and his coconspirators, child-porn purveyors and the greedy con men who caused the global financial collapse.
Some Catholics believe confession is medieval, but others are returning to the sacrament because something inside is telling them, “Hey, you sinned” — which means you knowingly and willfully did something wrong.
In the olden days, Saturday afternoon confession was busier than McDonald’s at lunchtime. The lines were long, and several priests were on duty, giving out penance like meter maids handing out parking tickets.
You could always tell whether the toughest priests were behind Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3 because no one was in their lines, except some unsuspecting sucker. Moments after he closed the curtain, a booming voice would reverberate from the dark recesses of the confessional: “WHAT did you DO???” followed by frightened whispers and then that terrifying voice again: “You’ve got a BIG PROBLEM!” (Besides being the hardest confessor, the old geezer was usually hard of hearing.)
When the humiliated penitent snuck out, we’d all politely look away, especially if he’d been confessing sex sins.
I haven’t endured anything like that in decades although I sometimes think I deserve a good yelling. Nevertheless, I’ve come to appreciate confession as a form of sacramental spiritual therapy, which has led me to believe I’m not as good a person as I thought I was and I’m not as bad a person as I thought I was.
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