July 13, 2010

Catholic Foursquare

So, I have been using/playing with foursquare. What is my justification for introducing such a potential distraction and trifle into my life? Well, I have two; the first is ministerial and the second personal. First, I have always tried to conceive of my internet presence, in part, as a way for people--especially those who might be interested in religious life or discerning a vocation--to have a glimpse into what our life looks like, both inside the heart and in the activities of daily life. The foursquare application does some of this by revealing some of the places, movements, and activities of my days. Second, I have been constantly challenged in my religious life to 'get out more' and to be attentive to visiting confreres and friends. As a game, foursquare encourages me to do some of that stuff.

All that being said, the other day on the bus, having visited the foursquare "venues" St. Mary's Church, El Poblano Cafe, and "Ghetto" (i.e. "Getty") Square, I was thinking about the potential this application might have for Catholics. In playing foursquare, one can earn "badges" for checking in a certain number of times, for checking into a number of similar places, or with a certain number of people, as well as for many other little accomplishments. Several particularly Catholic badges come to mind:

Daily Communicant: That's five check-ins at daily Mass in one week!

Frequent Penitent: That's two check-ins for confession this month. Thanks for your good example!

Adorer: You've checked in at adoration in three different churches!

Triduum: That's all three stations of the Paschal Triduum liturgy for you!

Midnight Mass: You're lucky to still have one!

All Souls: You've checked in to a cemetery on All Souls day or during its octave. The plenary indulgence in available to you.

First Fridays: You've made the nine First Fridays! The Sacred Heart is your refuge!

First Saturdays: You've made the five First Saturdays! You are a devout agent of reparation!

These are just examples. I'm sure readers will come up with several more in the comments. There could also be particular badges for jubilee years, special observances, indulgences, and pilgrimage sites and shrines, etc., as well as ones for charisms, e.g. a certain number of check-ins at churches or institutions of Franciscan inspiration could earn a 'Franciscan' badge, etc.

In the course of using foursquare one may also become the "mayor" of venues by checking in more than any other user. Mayorships can also be usurped by other users. Some businesses offer special deals for foursquare 'mayors,' and so it could be for my Catholic version. For example, a Mass could be offered each month for the intentions of the mayor of a certain church.

So, you devout foursquare API and iPhone and Android app developers, I'll look forward to it. The EULA must include a pledge to resist using the application to indulge any Pelagian tendencies.


Jane said...

I'd love to see this app...might even get me to buy an iPhone. :)

I can think of other badges - how about a "service" badge, for cleaning the church or hall, a "minister" badge for showing up for all appointed ministries (EM,Greeter, Lector, Cantor) as scheduled... so many possibilities!

Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

Fun idea :)