Mission Blog Day 2
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, New York. It’s 9:00 pm, and the last penitents of the evening have left, light and happy. Over the course of the evening, our small band of a dozen lay missionaries had spoken with hundreds of souls passing through the cathedral, distributed 750 rosaries, another 800 candles, and a whole lot of love. The priests, six from the parish, three Franciscans, one Legionary, and one well-known Cardinal, were engaged for over 8 hours with long lines and long confessions; they heard an estimated 500 confessions, many the first in many years. The numbers were staggering for one evening. By the end of the night, as the security crew turned the lights off behind us, our little crew, led by the Cathedral’s pastor, the indomitable Fr. Salvo, were physically wrecked and in need of a good meal. Yet to a person, they all seemed energized, light, joyful, and ready for more. The experience of helping the Lord bring back his lost sheet is like that.
Reflecting on the evening, my minded is flooded with stories of the dozens of souls we encountered as we walked the many highways and byways of this incredible church, which spans an entire city block. In this quiet and reverent space, with Lord present so visibly and his Holy Spirit infusing everyone that entered, stopping people to see if they would like a rosary almost inevitably would end with an unexpected trip to confession. When family or friends were also present, group confessional trips of four, six, and even eight were not uncommon. And although I’ve received my share of post confession “hugs” over the years, I must say, I don’t recall ever getting so many such hugs of joy in just one single evening. Every missionary experienced the same.
More individual stories of redemption to come, but right now my heart is overflowing with the idea of the two worlds, the world of His Kingdom, and the world around us, that is of His Kingdom but doesn’t always know it. Outside the Cathedral, where we initially staged several missionaries, our hit rate for getting someone to even take a rosary was barely 60 to 1; out there on busy Fifth Avenue, people were rushing past, looking pretty stressed out, frankly, as they walked briskly to their next shopping stop or business appointment. Engaged with the things of this world, they had little time to think about or appreciate the next. How often am I that person rushing past what could have been the highlight of my day, maybe my life, a meeting with God? And inside the Cathedral, with its shimmering light filtering in from the afternoon sun, and later peaceful light rising up from the hundreds of candles lit by the penitents, a different world entirely. A lush oasis of peace, of joy, of love. A world of new hope instilled within every soul that had taken the time to be with Him, and to seek his forgiveness and mercy.
Two worlds. I’ll take the second one.
On to SoHo!
April 12, 2022