“Light 110, Darkness 72”

Holy Wednesday

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Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral, SoHo.  Tonight, March Madness came to SoHo. Our little band of missionaries was joined by another half dozen missionary reinforcenents from Manhattan and New Jersey, and then at almost precisely 4:00, the team bus rolled in.  Thirty young seminarians, full of faith and the love of God.  A brief pep talk, and off they went, each team armed with a box of rosaries, service schedules, candles for Adoration, and in some cases, a life size image of the Pope.  We deployed them in a wide arc around Prince and Mott, and told them to stir things up.  They probably didn’t need that last instruction.

In the center, we palpably felt their presence in the neighborhood.  Many folks arrived on the corner with a rosary and candle already in hand, wanting to know where to light it.  From here, either the street missionaries, or the missionary in the back, would help the Holy Spirit bring them to reconciliation.  Jackie and Troy, years (30?) from the sacrament, eventually broke into tears as we compared the Father’s love for us to Jackie’s love for her only child.  They rushed into the arms of the Lord.  The cupcake shop employee, who came out of the store to ask us what we were up to and if she could go to confession.  She’s coming Friday.  Rashme, non-Catholic, starting in right away about the exclusivity of our pick-up line (“Are you Catholic?); as she was firing up, I gently placed a candle in her palm and she melted, into the Basilica to pray.

I knew something special was happening for Team Light when Bob somehow managed to get a deaf and mute couple into the Church.  Ok, he’s expressive, but really?  Our missionary there then got one of them into confession.  And Fr. Shawn was able to give her confession using a combination of the confession guide we had and lip reading.  “The deaf speak!  The blind see!”

Later over pasta from Louie’s, the brothers gave me their tales of how they conquered the neighborhood.  Love, joy, and encounter.  Repeat.

Out on Elizabeth and Spring, foot traffic was “heavy” and Pope selfies became the rage.  Br. Daniel reached out to a young woman watching from the edge of the crowd.  Fallen away Catholic.  Drugs and boyfriends. Broken life.  “Would never be welcomed back.”  Br. Daniel lovingly did so. She’s coming to Good Friday services.

Br. Eric, out on Lafayette, found John, a former seminarian, now leading a gay lifestyle and feeling cut off.  He now knows he is loved.

At least two instances of the brothers finding, and praying with Muslims attracted to their joy and humility. Others finding immigrants from Mexico and Columbia, feeling disenfranchised and cut off.  Last night they got a little love.

Out in front of Planned Parenthood, two brothers prayed the rosary while the other two members of their team engaged the crowd.  “Darkness” attempted to take an early lead, as a woman emerged from the clinic yelling at them and literally calling down the “power of Satan” on their heads.  The brothers were unmoved, stayed in position, praying.  She slunk off into the dusk.  Later, “Light” took over and ran away with it.  Two young women appeared, asked the brothers if they were praying.  Former Catholics, hadn’t been inside a Church since First Holy Communion.  Br. Andrew walked them in from Bleeker.  Then another worker from the clinic emerged.  The brothers braced themselves. She asked them about their faith, and then, remarkably, if they could  pray for her.  They did so the rest of the night, out in front of the abortion clinic.  On to the Quarterfinals.

Tomorrow, Team Tri State youth arrives.  Not sure who the other guys have on their bench.

A missionary

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