By Kathleen Naab
ATLANTA, Georgia, MARCH 14, 2011 (Zenit.org).- For those who have been away from the sacrament of reconciliation for a long time, but are unsure what to do in order to return, the Penance Project is part of the answer.
At the Penance Project Web site, an android app and a penance kit are available for free, full of clear, simple answers and step-by-step guidance for going to confession.
The project was founded by Jason Morrow, a husband, father and professional in the information technology field, as well as a student of contemporary Franciscan life.
Morrow told ZENIT that after becoming a Catholic in 1995, "much of my ongoing conversion is supported and strengthened by the grace provided by the sacrament of penance" -- grace that he is eager to invite others to share.
ZENIT: We can almost begin to speak of a "craze" for promoting confession through technology. What is the benefit of this new fashion in evangelization?
Morrow: We are part of exciting times in terms of new media and new methods of evangelizing and educating people. Technology, and the ease of access to information through it, has grown quickly and is becoming more widespread each day. I imagine that times were just as exciting, if not more so, when books were becoming widely available through the technology of the printing press. In my mind the benefits of these new methods mirror closely the benefits of the "old."
ZENIT: Your android application is only part of the Penance Project. Tell us what else the project offers.
Morrow: We primarily offer what we call "The Penance Kit." It is a collection of information that answers the questions:
1) What is the sacrament of penance and why is it important in our lives?
2) How do we prepare for the sacrament?
3) What is involved with doing it and how do we make a good confession?
4) What is absolution?
5) What do we do after confessing and receiving absolution?
6) What are some ways to pray?
All of the information we provide is available for free from many good sources. We hope to add value by seeking that information out, organizing it, making it simple to understand, making it easy to relate to, and providing it all in one place.
One kit is given freely to any requester for a single household who agrees to a few conditions:
-- To offer their favorite prayer at least once for the intention of spreading the Gospel.
-- That if they no longer need the Penance Kit, they will give it away to someone else who can learn from it.
-- Not to sell the contents of the Penance Kit.
The kit can also be downloaded from our Web site and printed for those who do not wish to request that one be mailed to them. Some reasons to request a kit and possibly donate to the project are:
1) We laminate the paper so it will last a long time and hopefully be passed along to other people as needed.
2) We include some prayer cards we like with some nice artwork that we are not talented enough to create ourselves.
3) Donating supports the evangelization of the sacrament. Specifically it helps provide for Web hosting, paper, printing, laminating, postage, incorporation and related fees, and the rental of a post office box.
ZENIT: Both the application and, as you mentioned, the kit are free. How do you support this apostolate?
Morrow: The apostolate is incorporated as a non-profit and is fully supported by donations, as we do not sell content or advertising. We are blessed with generous people who give money, time and talent to help the project and spread the word about the sacrament.
ZENIT: Does your zeal for promoting the sacrament of reconciliation come from a personal experience?
Morrow: Very much so. I was brought into the Church on the Easter Vigil in 1995. Once I correctly understood the sacraments, specifically Eucharist and reconciliation, the zeal was ignited. So much of my ongoing conversion is supported and strengthened by the grace provided by the sacrament of penance. That grace is needed by so many to receive the Eucharist. It is extremely hard to humble yourself before another, confess your sins, and ask God's forgiveness, but once that forgiveness is received, the hardship of the process is well worth it.
Many people have been away from the sacrament for a very long time and may be reluctant to return because they do not know exactly how to prepare, what exactly to do or say, etc.. Others may not understand it at all and may have misconceptions. The Penance Project hopes to educate everyone on the why and how, so they can experience the joy gained through God's forgiveness.
ZENIT: The video testimony at your Web site answers the question "why I am Catholic" in seven minutes. Does the Penance Project have an apologetic aim as well?
Morrow: I would not say that apologetics is a primary focus, but it is an aspect that can not be left out of our evangelization efforts. There are a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about the sacrament of reconciliation. Before my conversion I was told things that where completely false. We would like to make researching the true teachings of the Church about reconciliation as easy as we can -- be it through a Web page, a mobile device, social media, a laminated information packet, or any other media through which we can effectively communicate.
By Kathleen Naab