A Day to Sow
Mission Blog Day 5
Corner of Prince and Mott, St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, SoHo. There are days to harvest, and days to sow. Today was a day to sow. Holy Thursdays are often like this. The great Easter holiday can creep up fast on people, and even as late as Holy Thursday we are not always as focused as we could be on preparing to be ready. We'd rather treat this day as the beginning of a wonderful three day weekend, sort of like the Memorial Day weekend of the Spring. But it's a lot more than that, and most Catholics know that, even when they forget it or want to forget it. So nothing like a pesky missionary to plant a few seeds; the fields are ready. Here are few of the seeds that were sown yesterday…
An Unforgiven Quarrel
Miguel, a neatly dressed and groomed 40 something young man moves hurriedly past the corner. A missionary pursues him.
"How did you know that?"
"I don't know. I guess I felt it."
"Would you like a rosary?..."
So begins a long encounter on the streets. Miguel won't go into the church, to Mass or to confession or even to pray.
"I left the Church years ago…. I was 13. My mother yelled at me for wearing a tee shirt to Mass. I felt like everyone there was at a fashion show. It seemed fake to me. I've never been back since. But I'm still connected. I just have my own relationship with God now."
"That's wonderful!... Let me ask you something. How do you know what he's saying to you? Do you ever find yourself thinking he's saying something but really it's just you rationalizing some bad behavior or other?"
"How did you know that?"
"Because I've been there myself. That's how…."
"Tell me about your Mom. Is she still alive?"
"Yes, and I love her dearly. But I've never forgiven her about the dressing up for Mass stuff…"
"Miguel, let me ask you a question. Think for a moment about a time in your life that you felt the Lord was asking you to do something, or even to Not Do something. How did you feel after you did what he wanted?"
"And how about when you did what he didn't want?"
"Terrible. Without exception."
Miguel, think about the situation right now. What do you think he's telling you?
"That I should go into that church, and light a candle for my mother."
"What are you going to do?"
"Well, I'm in hurry right now to get to dinner."
"Miguel, you're what? In a hurry to get to dinner? We're talking about eternity here, Miguel? You're talking about dinner?!?"
"Steve, you're right. I need to go into that church. I promise you, I'm going to do it sometime tomorrow. I promise. Just not right now."
"Miguel, the Lord will be waiting for you. He wants you to come home."
The encounter ends with a deep felt and warm hug, out on the corner between what 15 minutes earlier were two perfect strangers. As Miguel walks briskly off, he turns his head one last time and locks eyes with the missionary, with a warm smile on his face. The eyes say it all.
"Thank you. Thank you for being there for me tonight."
Three Young Women Get Diverted
Three young women in their late teens go giggling past one of the missionaries.
"Are you Catholic, ladies?"
They giggle back, with a French accent.
"Oh, wonderful. You're French! So you're Catholic!"
They each take a rosary.
"Where are you heading?"
Then, a cell phone rings. It's Theresa's father.
"Ladies, where do you live?"
"Westchester, with our parents. We're just in SoHo for a visit."
"Ok. Here's the plan. I want all three of you right now to march into that church, and light a candle for your parents. And when you get home tonight, where your fathers will be waiting for you, they are going to ask you what you did. And you can tell them, 'We visited St. Patrick's Old Cathedral and lit a candle for you and Mom.' What do you say?"
So into the Basilica they walked…
You Look Like You Have Something to Confess
Out on Prince and Mott, a young man from the neighborhood zips by two missionaries. He takes a rosary, and let's us know he'll be coming to Mass on Easter.
"That's awesome John. Can't wait to see you there…. Incidentally, have you been to confession lately? You look like you have something to confess."
"Really? How did you know that?"
"Don't worry. Most of us do….."
"But really, I'm such a square. I truly am. How did you know that?"
An energetic and lively discussion of the Faith ensues. John takes down the times for confession tomorrow. He's coming. He has something to confess.
April 14, 2022