Become a Saint, Through Novena Prayer

I’m pleased to announce that we have released version 2.0 of our Pray: the Catholic Novena App!

The Novena Year In Review

A little over a year ago we launched the novena app, and to our delight it has helped tens of thousands of Catholics pray more novenas than they ever had in their life.

Our goal was to help Catholics pray (and complete!) more novenas, deepening their faith, and thus transforming the world for God and truth.

We launched with about 15 novenas, and each month I added more. We are now at 37 novenas and counting. We started with only an iPhone version, but through a successful Indiegogo campaign we crowd sourced the funds to pay a developer to port the app to Android.

Along the way, I’ve been inundated by emails every single day from Catholics praying novenas using the app. I wish I could have responded to every one of them, but just reading them has been a blessing.

Pray 2.0, Based on Your Feedback

No app is perfect, and over the past year we heard the feedback from our users on the features that would make the app better. We have begun implementing them and in the new version of the app on iOS the first one is already live: configurable reminders.

The app had a default reminder set to go off at 8 am each morning. Obviously that doesn’t work for some people, so now when you start a novena you can choose what time to get reminded to pray each day.

Boom! Now you’re reminded at just the time each day that you usually pray your novena.

You can also instantly add a reminder for the start of the novena to your iPhone’s calendar, so that the upcoming novena you don’t want to forget that starts in four days, will automatically notify you.

UI Refresh to Help You Pray

One neat thing about having so many faithful Catholics installing our app is that we can see on the backend the statistics:

  • How many people install the app, launch it, and immediately start praying a novena?
  • How many people install the app, and then some time later start a novena?
  • How many people install the app, but never pray a novena?

This last use case was one that made us sad: the whole point of our app is to help Catholics pray novenas! So if someone gets the app and never prays a novena, we have failed to help them in their prayer life.

“Well,” you may say, “that happens sometimes, what can you do about it?”

In fact, we can do quite a lot. The initial experience after installing our app is…you get dropped into a list of novenas. It is not obvious what you are supposed to do, tap one of them? Scroll down? Which one is the next one?

So, my fellow Devoted Coder Chad Pav and I got our heads together and streamlined the app to make it clearer as to what you should do when you open the app for the first time, selecting the next few novenas that are starting soon and encouraging you to pray one of them.

Hint hint: pray the Immaculate Conception novena!

Now, some Catholics know the exact novena they want to pray, so they can tap the See all Novenas link or tap the Novenas tab in the bottom middle of the screen, and they will go to a list of novenas, grouped by month, with a handy search bar at the top.

This new design we think we funnel people into the action they are looking for, namely, to pray a novena! And once they have prayed a novena, if it is a new devotion for them, they will see the power of such prayer before the throne of God and be encouraged to continue to pray.

Immaculate Conception Novena Begins

Providentially, the Immaculate Conception novena begins today!

This novena was the first major one that our community prayed when we launched the app a year ago.

The novena is “locked”, and you can unlock it by becoming a patron for a small amount through an in-app purchase.

Originally, people could unlock novenas by sharing the app with their friends. But we received emails from people asking us to allow them to be patrons to unlock all novenas, as they had already invited all their friends to the app!

So we introduced the patronage model, and wonderfully, many people have become patrons, enabling us to continue adding novenas, features, and pay the monthly hosting bills.

Here’s to another year of growing in faith through novena prayers. Happy praying, happy Immaculate Conception novena starting, and happy beginning of Advent in just a few days.

God bless,
Devin & Chad
Devoted Coders

A Different Way to Tithe as a Catholic

We as Catholics have an obligation to support the Church.

This support, however, can be accomplished in many different ways.

A New, Old Way to Tithe

One way that my wife and I have decided to tithe is by donating directly to a person whom we want to support.

This person doesn’t have to be a non-profit organization; rather, if we believe in their mission and the work they are doing to spread the Gospel, we give to them directly.

In times past, I would only donate to non-profits: the perception is that they aren’t in this for the money, and also I could get a tax deduction. But, over the years I have realized that non-profit status doesn’t ensure wise decision-making, or a noble mission, or even what I would consider appropriate compensation paid to leaders of the organization.

I also care less and less about whether I can deduct a donation. Sure, it is nice to save money, but if I can directly help someone doing good and spreading the Catholic Faith, then I am not going to let the tail wag the dog and refuse to give to them simply because they haven’t jumped through the hoops of being a non-profit.

What Direct Tithing Looks Like

We continue to donate to our parish, to the local Church, etc., but we also now deliberately give to individuals as well. Of course, these are people with whom we have a lot of trust, but they are free to do with the money what they want.

You can give to someone via monthly recurring payments through your bank or their bank or through various services.

Some people also have set up Patreon accounts which facilitates exactly this kind of giving. I recently met Ryan Grant, the guy behind Mediatrix Press, and he has a Patreon account where people can donate to his mission on a recurring monthly basis.

He is translating classic Catholic works from Latin into English, books that have never been translated before. This kind of work doesn’t pay well; it’s hard to make a living selling Catholic books, but it is a noble and incredibly valuable service to the Church, so people can support him directly in his endeavors.

I was inspired by him and by other Patreon users, so I made a Patreon account where you can support me directly in the Catholic evangelization that I do.

What exactly would you be supporting? Here’s a partial list:

  1. Online courses helping over 500 Catholic men conquer porn addiction
  2. Powerful apologetics books that have led to hundreds of conversions
  3. Online courses equipping Catholics to lead their friends into the Church
  4. Mobile apps that help deepen Catholics’ prayer lives.
  5. Webinars that teach Catholics practical apologetics

Why This Is Happening

We see increasing fragmentation in various Catholic spheres. Sometimes we decide that we can’t fully support certain organizations or collections that are asked for, because those groups or decision-makers are not making wise choices.

Instead of deciding not to tithe at all, we can find people and organizations within the Church, whether non-profit or not, and directly donate money to them. In doing so we are making an intentional choice about where our donations go and do not have to worry that people we don’t know or trust are going to make poor decisions with the donations.