Andy buys me a tablet for my birthday, and soon I discover what apps are all about. I wonder if there are any Catholic apps and start looking.
“I’ve found an app for confession,” I tell my husband.
“You can confess your sins online?” he asks, not really believing anyone can.
“No! You use the app to examine your conscience. You still have to go to confession.” I think about it and add, “I guess you could take your tablet or phone into the confessional to remind you what sins to confess.”
I usually write a list of my sins. I know some priests don’t like this idea because lists can be lost and found by someone else, who might read them. But if I don’t have a list, my mind instantly goes blank, as soon as my knees hit the kneeler.
But recently, I’ve had a problem with my list. In the dim light of the confessional, my old-middle-aged eyes can’t make out the words. I have an idea: If I had an app on my back-lit tablet, all my sins would be neatly set out in a nice large font… confession would be so easy.
I buy the app. Andy buys one too.
We give ourselves usernames and choose passwords. We fill in the gender, vocation in life, date of last confession and birthday details. We are ready to examine our consciences.
Soon I am scrolling through the Ten Commandments:
The First Commandment…
Do I not give God time in prayer every day in prayer?
Do I not seek to love Him with all my heart?
I scroll and click when appropriate, and scroll some more. Soon I’ve covered the entire Ten Commandments. Soon some of the boxes have numbers in them. Soon I’ve completed my examination of conscience.
The next night, I sign into my confession app and scroll and click, and click some more. I wish not sinning was as easy as examining my conscience.
But there is one problem with the app. Some of my sins don’t seem to fit neatly into any of the options. Am I abnormal? Am I more sinful than everyone else? I become frustrated and eventually I give up on the app.
Then one day I remember my app. Soon I will be going to confession. Maybe I should have a look at the sins I recorded and add them to my list. So I click on my username, and immediately the password box appears. Password? What is my password? I can’t remember. I try one possibility. Invalid password. I try another. Invalid password. What could my password be? I feel like a safe breaker, an invader of secrets. Will the whole app close down after so many attempts? … Access has been denied. Invading another’s privacy is a sin. Please see your priest for confession. I give up.
I tell Andy about my problem.
“Didn’t you write your password down?” he asks.
“Of course not! I don’t want anyone getting into my app and seeing my sins.”
“Can you retrieve your password?”
“No.” My sins are safe. Too safe. No one is going to see them ever again. Not even me.
This morning Andy and I are going to confession with the girls.
“Have you written down your sins?” I ask Gemma-Rose.
“Yes,” she replies, waving her piece of folded paper at me.
“Are you sorry for doing those sins? Are you going to try and not sin again?”
Gemma-Rose nods and then says, “You sound like a priest. Father always asks me that.”
The older girls have good memories and have memorised their sins. I keep repeating mine in my head, hoping I don’t go blank at the crucial moment. And Andy has his mobile phone, complete with confession app.
Later Andy tells me how wonderful the app is: “It summarises your sins in one list. It goes through the confession process. There’s even prayers to say. Easy!”
I think about those sins locked inside my tablet, never again to be seen by human eyes. I suddenly realise that not even God can see those sins now. With all my other venial sins, they were cast into the unending ocean of God’s mercy at confession this morning. Never again will God think about them. They are gone… password or no password… gone. Isn’t confession wonderful?
So why does my heart usually sink when I think about making my confession? Why do I not run eagerly to confession more often? I think about Gemma-Rose emerging from the confessional. She screws up her list of sins. All gone. Her soul is pure and clean. She always smiles.
Andy is entering the date of his last confession... today's date... into his app. “Hey! All my sins have disappeared!” All the boxes are empty. He smiles.
All my sins have disappeared... yes, that's certainly worth smiling about. Can you see my huge smile?