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Archive for February 10th, 2011

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession …”

And so started my first session in the dark closet that is a Catholic confessional. I was seven, and scared shitless. The rumors that flew through my particular gaggle of initiates ranged from a congratulatory bowl of M&Ms appearing to the floor giving way at the pull of a lever by a priest unhappy with what he was hearing, and although we’d been well prepped by having the required words drilled into our young brains, no one had bothered to explain the process beyond how bloody vital it was we get it right.

And how I wanted to get it right! After all, there was a brand new dress at home (Bridal white and with a veil, even, and what 7-year-old girl wasn’t put all aflutter by the thought of walking down an aisle in that?), the wearing of which depended upon passing the test of confessed.

Of course, I had by this time succumbed to curiosity enough to have taken a peek or two into the blabbing box … an action I was expected to confess, I suppose … but all had happened in guilt-ridden anxiety and I’d not had anything like a good look around, so its mystery held fast, and by the throat.

Nervous as a Catholic school girl in her first confession, appropriately, when nunned through the door, I dropped to my knees and began the ritual that was pouring out my soul. I told of pinching my brother and filching a cookie and might have mentioned skipping threesies in a game of jacks, all the horrific acts a child was compelled to tell if that dress was to happen.

I must have run on for at least five minutes, then …

a little screen slid open and the priest, who’d apparently been torturing listening to the kid in the closet on the other side of him, was ready to hear MY confession.

One more time, and from the top …

That was a long time ago, and, dammit, to think now I could have just phoned it in!

The news that the popester has given the nod to a new app for iPhones and iPads that makes confession a breeze almost makes me wish I was a Catholic school girl all over again.

Okay, that’s nowhere even close to true, but idea of the $1.99 app on sale through iTunes is cracking me up.

The Catholic Church has approved an iPhone app that helps guide worshippers through confession.

The Confession program has gone on sale through iTunes for £1.19 ($1.99).

Described as “the perfect aid for every penitent”, it offers users tips and guidelines to help them with the sacrament.

Now senior church officials in both the UK and US have given it their seal of approval, in what is thought to be a first.

The app takes users through the sacrament – in which Catholics admit their wrongdoings – and allows them to keep track of their sins.

Ah, the hilarity out of the Vatican!

A bit of explanation for those not familiar with stuff catholiky:

The Sacrament of Reconciliation, more commonly referred to as Confession by most Catholics and Christians, should be a vital part of the Catholic faith.

… When the person enters the confessional, he should kneel (or sit), bless himself (with the sign of the cross) and say “Bless me Father for I have sinned.” The person will then tell the priest how long it has been since his last confession. Then the priest will tell the person to confess his sins. From there, the person will tell his sins to the priest. Once he is done, the person should say an “Act of Contrition.” Once the person has done all of this, the priest will give the person penance. The penance will usually consist of a set amount of prayers (such as The Lord’s Prayer or The Rosary) the person must say. The priest will then say a prayer and absolve the person of the confessed sins.

… Confession helps to rid people of any guilt they may have been feeling because of their sins and also allows them to experience the love and forgiveness offered by God.

Got it?

Okay, so now a bit about sacraments in general:

A sacrament, as defined in Hexam’s Concise Dictionary of Religion, is what Roman Catholics believe to be “a rite in which God is uniquely active.” Augustine of Hippo defined a Christian sacrament as “a visible sign of an invisible reality.” … Examples of sacraments are Baptism and the Eucharist. Therefore a sacrament is a religious symbol or often a rite which conveys divine grace, blessing, or sanctity upon the believer who participates in it, or a tangible symbol which represents an intangible reality. As defined above, an example would be baptism in water, representing (and conveying) the grace of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Forgiveness of Sins, and membership into the Church. Anointing with holy anointing oil is another example which is often synonymous with receiving the Holy Spirit and salvation. Another way of looking at Sacraments is that they are an external & physical sign of the conferral of Sanctifying Grace.

Apparently, God is now “uniquely active” via iPhone. If one leans toward buying into the church stuff in the first place, this might be bloody fucking handy, dontcha think?

It looks like the new app gives a commandment-by-commandment rundown of possible infractions and provides a handy checklist, making it harder to “forget” transgressions, since lord knows! forgetting is no excuse for not unburdening and taking your holy lumps.

Kill anyone?
a) yes
b) no
c) Does a Muslim count?

Commit any rape?
a) yes
b) no
c) Just an alter boy.

Tell any lies?
a) yes
b) no
c) Only about the alter boy.

Piece o’ cake, heh?

And if that’s so easy, why not apps for sacs other than reconciliation?

There could be a do-it-yourself baptism app, a “Do you take this woman to be your wedded wife” tick-a-box app, and even one for performing last rites and burials. (Pre-order holy water, salt, unction oil, even vacuum-packed communion wafers through the post … $49.99 the set … and have all on hand for the next religion-related emergency.)

If you’re expecting a crowd, everyone will certainly have their phone with them, so have them download the appropriate app and join in the Kyrie, eleisoning. Think of the fortune saved in candles, since the soft light of touch screens would create the same sort of mood, and processions could be led by iPads raised in solemn tribute.

Yep. I think we’re on to something here, and at the right price iTunes and the church might both be happy.

And here’s a little something from me composed before this app thing made news:

The Sacraments

Water drip
Salt to lip
Hand that baby over

Tiny room
doom and gloom
all that’s just to cover

tongue to host
holy ghost
Quite the cool maneuver

Pick a name
now you’re tame
Don’t contain your fervor

Troth to plight
wedding night
doesn’t bind a lover

Finished toil
unction oil
No, you won’t recover

In a grave
no one saved
Now it’s finally over

Amen. Log off.

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