Published on November 6-7, 2010 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
Picture it: a cell phone commercial featuring the newest ‘apps’ (application software). A voice says to you: “Looking for a place to eat? There’s an app for that.” “Want to find out what’s showing at the movie house? There’s an app for that.” “Need to pay your bills? There’s an app for that.” The voice goes on to present various other scenarios and, for each need and circumstance, it never fails to remind you the viewer that “There’s an app for that.” Finally, you tell the voice: I’m Catholic. Is there an app for that?
Then you’ll hear the voice of your techno-savvy pastor: “Yes; and there’s not just one app for Catholics. There are several. And the best ones are even free to download.”
Most Catholics with iPhones, iPods, iPod Touch, and iPads don’t even realize that there are a number of apps out there that could help them to grow in our Faith. Here are some of those that I have checked out for myself.
If you’re traveling and you need to find out where you can go to Mass, there’s an app for that: Catholic Mass Times. It helps you find the closest Catholic Churches and provides their Mass times and phone numbers.
If you want to pray the rosary and you forgot your beads, there’s an app for that: iRosary (for $2.99). It works like a traditional rosary, but tells you the prayers, remembers your place, and is right on your mobile device when you need it.
If it has been a while since you’ve gone to confession, and you need help examining your conscience or remembering the Act of Contrition, there’s an app for that: iConfess (for $2.99). But, it won’t tell you what sort of penance you will receive. That is still the priest’s job.
If you want to pray the Divine Office (the daily prayers of the Church), or meditate on the readings for Mass, there’s an app for that: iBreviaryPro. It even allows you to see all those prayers, readings, and Mass parts in four other languages: Italian, Spanish, French, and Latin. This app can be downloaded for free. There are others that are similar to it but they cost money to download. iMissal (for $4.99) is a complete missal, features a Bible verse every day, and includes popular Catholic prayers. iMass (for $1.99) presents the Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Personally, I prefer subscribing to podcasts, audio files that I can listen to in my mobile device, especially when I’m driving. I have two favorites. The first gives me the daily Mass readings: search for Daily Readings from the New American Bible on iTunes. The second presents the daily prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours: search for Divine Office-Liturgy of the Hours of the Roman Catholic Church by DivineOffice.org. Both of these offer a free subscription and an opportunity to listen to God’s word and to pray at every free moment.
For our young people whose lives seem to revolve around their cell phones and laptops, these apps are especially a God-send. Let’s face it: Cell phones aren’t just for calling and texting. The Internet isn’t just for email and web browsing every searchable item on this planet. The iPod isn’t just for music. This modern technology can also be an instrument for our sanctification; these devices can help us to pray, to learn about our Catholic Faith, and to live out that Faith, if only we choose to use them also for that purpose. When it’s all right there at our fingertips, it would be a shame for us not to make the most of the good and the holy that this technology does have to offer.