Love and Joy
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, December 19, 2022, New York City
What a night at the big cathedral! Every “highway and byway” within the city block expansive holy space was filled with visitors, of every possible background, race, country, and religion, all mysteriously drawn to the beauty of the place. Some came to find God, some came to pray, some came just to see it, but somewhere deep within them, it seemed many were longing for a little peace, a little love, a small slice of Him—even when they didn’t know it. We placed our 20 some odd missionaries, strategically at the major cross sections, and all through the long afternoon they kept our at times 7-strong contingent of holy priests busy hearing confessions, many ones that had not been planned, many that had been too-long delayed. By 4:00, we were already out of our large supply of rosaries, and then fell back on our Immaculate Heart of Mary medals and candles for prayer intentions.
One theme of the evening was the number of families who were wholesale guided into unexpected confessions by the missionaries. One mother daughter team, who’d been talked into confession by one of the missionaries, were so blown away by the sudden entrance of God’s love and mercy into their lives that they later sought the missionary out, and found him at a remote, dark corner of the church using his phone to try to secure more rosaries! Like many of the penitents on this glorious night, they had a tear of joy and gratitude in their eyes.
We had several new missionaries last night, who had come to learn about it from a friend or a talk or a book, and came with less experience but hearts full of joy, love, and enthusiasm for the Lord. Their stories, included below, evidence the deep truth of our missionary motto, “Love, Don’t Think.”
A Merry, Joyful, and Loving Christmas to all!
December 20, 2022
“The Mystery of the Holy Spirit”
Along the Left Nave, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I think the majority of the people we "touched" today truly wanted someone to reach out to them, maybe subconsciously. They wanted to be in the Cathedral for one reason or another, but needed a hook to pull them closer to God. It was important that lay people were there to help fish them out of the crowds. Again, thanks to you both for making this happen!
A young couple, CJ and Frankie, that Steve brought to our station came into the Cathedral at Frankie's request because "that is what you do at Christmas time". As it turned out, CJ really wanted to go to confession, but Frankie was not strongly interested. When Frankie saw the effect confession was having on people, she too wanted to partake. And so the young couple shared this incredible experience together, not only bringing them closer to God, but closer together as a couple.
Something unexpected for me was to see people waiting for confession become friends and share phone numbers. The most unlikely people to connect were an older Polish woman and a young Canadian man. They eagerly read through the guide to confession together while waiting their turns and then waited for each other after confession and shared phone numbers.
We had several foreigners in our station including a 91-year old German woman who wasn't sure she had anything to confess - but then spent over 20 minutes in the confessional! She returned feeling quite liberated!
Another remarkable thing was how long people waited to see the priests. Even people who were quite on the fence about confession waited a good 30 minutes for their turn. And prayed while they waited!
For me, the real Holy Spirit moment came with Valerie, who was in town from Westchester with her sister, fresh from seeing the Rockettes and trying her best to keep the Christmas spirit alive despite losing both parents 10 years ago. When I asked if she wanted to join us for Reconciliation Monday, she was quick to say that it had been so long since she had been part of formal Catholic traditions. While she never officially left the church, over the years she had fallen into her own level of spirituality with God. When I shared with her that at one point I hadn't been to confession in over 30 years, I could see how she related to me. I offered some ideas of how she could start her conversation with the priest and she grew more and more interested. After some back and forth with her sister and Angela (also on the mission), Valerie became so excited about reconciliation, she waited another 30 minutes to have her turn. After 14 minutes with the priest, she came out full of smiles and hugs, and with the phone number of the priest! It turns out he is local in her area and she is going to meet with him again! Another example of how God works in mysterious ways!
December 20, 2022
“Good thing we’re talking!”
Near the Main Altar, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. One man came in with his wife and three kids, preteen and teens. Tired looking, like so many that evening, and lugging their bags and boxes from their day’s Christmas shopping. I gave them all rosaries and we talked about where they were from and how they liked the City, etc. When I mentioned confession the man said “Oh, I haven’t done that since I was a kid.” So I told him that it was Reconciliation Monday, and how probably most of the people going to confession that day hadn’t been in 5, 10, or 20 years. He seemed to think about it, then look at his wife, and then he said “Sure, I’ll go.” As simple as that!
Another guy was there with his teenage daughter and two younger sons. They were sitting where they could see the Our Lady of Guadeloupe picture, so I pointed out that she was crushing the snake - the devil - and asked them if they wanted a Miraculous Medal. The father and daughter helped put the medals on the boys, and then I gave one each to the father and daughter. Then I mentioned that it was Reconciliation Monday, and the dad seemed to pick up on that right away, because before I could say anything else, he rolled his eyes and said “Hoh! Thaaaat’s been a while for me.” So I said “Well, good thing we’re talking! Would you like to go now?” Again a pause, then he looked to his daughter and said “could you watch the boys for a few minutes?” and i took him to the confessional line where Evelyn took good care of him.
December 20. 2022