Lent: There’s An App for That

Essays — By on March 22, 2012 at 7:43 am


Lent: There’s An App for That.

I was on the elliptical machine last night, plodding along as I listened to Sara McLachlan, when my iPhone burped up a reminder for me from my Bible App.

“Are you observing Lent?” it asked me, interrupting my leg’s rhythm and setting my machine on pause.

I was intrigued and the (imaginary) thought bubble formed over my head replying, “Yes. Yes I am. Please continue.”

It replied quickly, with its alert tone of voice, “Find a Lent Reading Plan.”

To which my thought bubble replied, “I just may. Thank you for the suggestion, Bible App.”

Returning to my fitness machine, and ambient music mix, I thought how accessible faith practices are in this inherently digital age. A few months ago, nostalgic for my Catholic beginnings and the tradition of the Rosary, I plugged in “rosary” to the little engine that could inside the tiny virtual house that Apple built and there it was, a way to pray the rosary for every season and inclination. Click, App bought.

Last night, after my friendly neighborhood Bible App reminded me about Lent–which I had already intended to follow with enthusiasm–I figured I would look into what other Lenten gems my Apple guru could produce. The first page of search results brought up seven Lenten Apps as well as two Station of the Cross Apps and one Confessions App. I clicked on “Lent Lite” (it was free).

My new App will give me a freshly plucked Thomas Aquinas quote for every day throughout the 40 days of the Lenten season. I can also set a time of the day I want it to appear. The Lent without the “Lite” App will have to wait till 2013, after I had adequately worked out my spiritual ritual muscles for even more intense reverence–I would guess (or when I was prepared to dish out the $1-$2 for the upgrade) .

As I returned to my Bible App, the original curator of my curiosity I decided to take it up on its offer and see what juicy options it had to offer. I clicked on the question “Are you observing Lent?” and I was given the following selections: Words of Jesus During Passion Week, Lent for Everyone, 40 Days of Lent, Devotions for Lent from Holy Bible, and The Story of Easter. Detectible. When I made a selection, the following screen popped up a summary and a green button with white letters urging me to: “Start Plan”. Turns out you have to log into facebook or google to get access so I figured, for now, and add additional apps as necessary.

What a fascinating paradox of ancient and new; Biblical scriptures and ancient Christian traditions neatly modeled and molded into edible bites through a near endless virtual library of services and products. The Apps for everything seem to have an endless capacity for mass producing efficient ways of prayer, reverence, penance, and spiritual practice.

In an almost science fiction new world order of accessibility, do I have any excuse to not be prayerful, penitent and fully immerse myself in the Lenten (or any) season of Christian faith and ritual? Not really.

But, that devilishly alluring “Angry Birds” is also one click away, and I am weak. So weak.

TB Pasquale is a writer, trauma psychotherapist,and a practitioner/educator on the contemplative dimension of faith. She writes and blogs over at www.crookedmystic.com about her own crooked path in the Christian tradition and contemplative spirituality. She is in the process of working on a book-length series of personal essays on her “genealogy of faith”.



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