How about a little digital evangelization that can — almost literally — spark your spirit?
Catholics now have a sure-fire way to know when their religious fervor needs some rekindling.
A new iPhone application gaining popularity across the country tracks users’ religious activity — everything from reading Scriptures to posting prayers — and reflects it in the flame of a virtual candle tied to the app that grows larger and brighter with every completed task. Stray from the path and the flame burns out — only to be rekindled if another user physically “bumps” mobile devices with the holder of the extinguished flame.
The free app called Ignio — “ignite” in Latin — was released last month as an innovative way for Catholics to encourage young people to be more active followers.
Although religious applications for mobile devices have been around for a while — with everything from digital compasses that point Muslims in the direction of Mecca to daily inspirational text messages for a variety of faiths — Ignio creators boast their app is the only one that helps Catholics live, share and track their faith.
“We’re lighting a candle of hope,” said Andres Ruzo, a Dallas businessman and Roman Catholic who helped create Ignio.
The 50-year-old CEO of Link America Inc., energized by a trip to the Vatican with a group of businessmen last year, reached out to some savvy, young designers and developers in Dallas to create the app.
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” Ruzo said, explaining that Ignio is sort of a play on that proverb since Christians believe Jesus Christ is the “light of the world.”
After downloading the app, Ignio appears on the cell phone screen as an unlit candle. Ignio users can choose candles with images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St. Francis or other Catholic symbols.
To spark the candle’s wick, the user must physically “bump” or repeatedly tap iPhones with a current Ignio user.
The flame stays lit as long as one participates in a variety of spiritual activities, such as posting prayers on Ignio, commenting on friends’ prayer requests, using the app to find a nearby church or just to “check-in” to let friends know you are at church or were there that week. Ignio also keeps track of how often one reads the prescribed daily Scriptures and verses found on the app.
But one must use Ignio at least once within a two-week period or the flame dies.
“It’s so simple,” Ruzo said. “The more you pray with others the bigger and brighter your candle glows.”
And: you can download the app right here.