Top Christian Apps for iPhone and iPad

A year ago, on the Clifton Diaconal Formation Blog, I published a list of my favourite Christian iPhone apps. I figured a year on it was time to revisit that post and update it. I have added a couple of new apps and commented on some of the new functionality particularly functionality for the iPad.

Confession: A Roman Catholic App
Catholic Calendar
Free Candle

As I am known in my Christian circles as a geek and my geek circles as a Christian, I am often being asked about Christain Apps. In fact last year even Radio Bristol asked me to come in to talk about the new Confessions App that was in the news a lot, so that's where I will start.

A Confessions App, it's called Confession: A Roman Catholic App.

It's one of several confessions apps available I it's one of the better ones I think. It is very easy to use both in preparation for confession and if you choose to in the confessional with the Priest. I typically use this app on my train journeys from Bristol to Leeds, which I have to make every 3-4 weeks for work. I can spend a quiet hour using the app to help me examine my conscience and plan what I want and need to talk about in confession. The app contains a list of questions against each of the 10 commandments that really help me examine my conscience. For example “Do I not give God time every day in prayer?” When I read this question I instantly think of the times I have missed, skipped or if I am really honest avoided morning & evening prayer. Then it also makes me consider the times I did pray but didn't give the time to God, when I just ran through the prayers.

There is a tick box next to each question and if you check it, it will appear in the next set of screen that you can use when confessing. There is also an option for adding your own items that aren't included but you want to talk about in confession.

The second part of the app allows you to use the iphone to help and prompt you in confession, It really helps me use concentrate on confessing before God and the Priest what I have done wrong and the things that I regret rather than worrying about remembering or getting confused by what I should say and when I should say it. It starts by prompting you with phrase like “Father it has been 3 weeks since my last confession”, it cleverly knows when you last used the app for confession and works out the number of weeks for you. On the next screen it list all the question you checked and on the last it has the text for an act of contrition. It works really easily and for me has been a real help.

The app allows multiple users if you share iTunes accounts, but each user is password protected so your sins and still between you, the priest and God.

The App is also usable properly on the iPad and makes full use of the extra screen size. However for me it much more useable on the phone, just because of where I choose to use it. If I prepared for confession at home more ofter rather than on trains, the iPad size would make things easier. But even then it would be a bigger device to take with you to confession.
Having spoken to a few people about this app, many people have jumped to the wrong conculsion about it. It isn't an app to replace confession, allowing you to confess to the phone. It isn't an app to let you publish your sins on facebook and twitter, someone actually tweeted “The official Catholic Confession app costs $2 and I can't even post my sins directly to Twitter or Facebook.” It isn't an app to automat confession, you can't phone in your confession.
What it is, is a great little app that help you prepare for and enjoy the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

My most used app year ago was Universalis, and it still is. In the last year it has made many improvements, including being fully updated with the new translation. This is the an amazing App for those wanting quick and easy access to prayers of the divine office and the missal.

It contains the full breviary for the divine office and now full missal. It is very quick and easy allowing you to read and pray the office. It also contains the readings for the day at Mass and a brief but illuminating biography of the saint or saints of the day. For anyone wanting to pray the divine office this is a must have, and by far the best of the small number of divine office apps there are on the apple app store.

The extra space on the iPad makes that a joy to use when preparing for reading at Church or in my case prepareing homilies. It is also very easy to lead prayer direct from the screen. Anyone who has sight problems will appreaciate being able to zoom in on the text with a simple apple pinch of the screen.

There are two versions one which is free (and called Catholic Calendar) and one for about £15. The free version requires a data connections either via wifi or over the mobile network. For your £15 pounds you get everything downloaded on the phone so it can be used anywhere, you also get to use some addition translations most importantly for me the Grail psalms. As an added bonus for your £15 you can also download and use the Web and PC versions which are very useful if you are preparing to lead prayer for a group and need booklets printed out.

Third on my list is iRosary, it's a lovely rosary application that from my techy perspective is absolutely beautiful. The screen can be configure to show meditative artwork, or the words of the rosary, or both. The beads are shown down the right of left of the screen depending on if your right or left handed. A small stroke of the screen will move the beads on just as if you were praying with beads, and there is a small vibration of the phone each time the beads move on so you can pray easily with your eyes closed. Again this is a train favourite of mine, everyone else in rush hour has there laptop out or the paper open and I am quietly praying the rosary. It's a wonderful way to spend time between Bristol and Paddington.

This app also uses the iPad screen well, with more space for pictures allowing your eyes to guide yor reflection on the mysteries. For me though the iPhone is much more similar to beads as it sits in the hand and would therefore be my prefered way of using it.

The last on my list right now is PocketSword. I have been using this in various forms for years. There are versions for the PC and most smart phones. In it's simplest form it allows you to carry a bible around with you, but that's only a small part of this app. It's links to sites that allow you to download many different translations as well as commentaries and bible dictionaries. For anyone wanting to study the bibles this is great. When I am preparing homilies or lectures this is always used. I use it most though on a Thursday evening, when I sometime teach at church. If I get asked an awkward question I have an opportunity to look up the answer while everyone else is having a cup of tea in the break. Great app and Free.

The iPad version of this is great. Much more room on the screen and it now becomes a real study tool when you want to spend time with scripture. When I am preparing homilies and courses you will find my typing on my laptop but using books and the iPad as resources. Pocketsword is one of the best.

A new and really simple app is Free Candle. All it does is show a candle on the screen and while it's a long way short of a real candle for prayer or meditation, it is usable in a car or office where you wouldn't be able to light candles. It has a few different types of candles depending on your mood, and because the iPhone has a microphone it detects when you blow the candle out.

When leading the stations of the Cross last Lent I used the StationsoftheCross app for one of the sessions. It has lovely artwork and a simple scripture reading and prayer for each station. This app is ideal for both personal and group devotions.
The app isn't iPad enabled but is useable as an iPhone app on the iPad. It's a shame really as the picture are wonderful and it would be nice to be able to show then off on the iPad screen.
The app is only £0.69 and is very similary to the many £1.99 little books you can buy at the back of churchs, so good value in my opinion.

I am really interested to know what you think of the iPhone apps and which ones you like using. please drop me an email with your favourites

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