By REY FLORES
Dan Gonzalez is a man on a mission — a 25-year mission that has led him to create a terrific new software application, more commonly known as an “app.” The app that Gonzalez has created is the recently launched The Mass Explained app, which is taking evangelization and Catholic education into the 21st century.
The Wanderer recently had the opportunity to interview Dan about his work. (Also, read our review of The Mass Explained app on p. 1 of this week’s issue.)
Q. Why should people be excited about this new app?
A. It’s a terrific new tool that can help Catholics of all ages grow even stronger in his or her faith. Its purpose is to reach this generation that is embarking on a critical time of transition — when the faith of their parents either becomes their own, or it does not.
Q. Tell us about how this app can bring an already practicing Catholic closer to the faith.
A. Let’s say that your average “Joe Catholic” is already attending Mass, but he doesn’t really know the history of the Mass or why we do certain things in the Mass or what certain prayers really mean, that is who this app was designed for.
The app brings together information through visuals, sound, music, video, three-dimensional interactive media that makes learning about our faith, specifically the Mass, a truly enriching, entertaining, and enjoyable experience.
Q. What motivated you to create this app?
A. This app was written (in my mind) 25 years ago. This is the information I wish I had known then (as a lapsed Catholic). The Mass is not an empty, meaningless, man-made ritual, but rather, it is a divinely instituted sacrament, rooted in Scripture and tempered by Tradition. It is the holiest thing we can do on earth.
Q. So, from epiphany to launching — this was a 25-year process?
A. I was raised Catholic — Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation — but my faith never really interested me. While in college, I started to attend a nondenominational Bible study.
After attending the Bible study for a few weeks, I became very close friends with the leader of the group, James (the names have been changed to protect the innocent). James and I had a lot in common: We both loved music, had an affinity for sports and were illustration majors, although he was one year ahead of me in school.
Q. Bible study? Tell us more.
A. The Bible study usually consisted of a reading followed by an explanation. It’s kind of like what happened at Mass, but with one big difference: I wasn’t bored to tears, not even a bit. I started to love the Bible and read it constantly. Over time I grew to respect James’ ability to navigate the Bible. He would quote Romans 10:9 here, John 3:3 there, and a little Isaiah for dessert.
He made the Bible come alive. It made sense. He brought it down to my level. He would answer any question I had and anything he said was Gospel truth to me. He slowly started introducing other works outside the Bible. I devoured anything James gave me to read. He became my best friend. I was growing in my knowledge of God and he was my guide.
Q. James seemed to be a huge influence; what happened next?
A. To take it a step further, James invited me to attend one of his nondenominational church services. Now, till this point, my mother’s voice was still in my head. “Don’t forget to go to church!” I attended Mass every Sunday morning at a nearby chapel. My pagan art school did not have any religious services. I didn’t see the harm in attending James’ church service instead. It’s all the same, right?
Q. How did you finally make it back home?
A. One evening, something happened that had never happened before, and has never happened since. I am not one to experience the paranormal. God spoke to me. Not like the “God speaks to all of us in the recesses of our hearts” kind of way. Or the “God speaks to me in the depths of my soul” kind of way. No. This was real. This was audible. This scared me to death. I was in my room and the voice said: “The reason you do not feel at home is because I am not there in the flesh.”
That was it. He said it once and offered no explanation, instruction, or clarification.
Q. An absolutely miraculous story, Dan. What is up next for you?
A. I now take off my developer hat and put on my marketing hat and try to get this app out to the masses. I am happy to be able to introduce people to a way that they can grow closer to God and our Catholic faith, specifically the Mass.
Q. Who do think can benefit from The Mass Explained app the most?
A. This app is ideal for high schools, home schools, seminaries, RCIA classes, Bible study and prayer groups, Young Adult Ministries, Emmaus and Knights of Columbus meetings, and adult catechesis groups.
Visit www.MassExplainedApp.com for more information and to purchase this app.