Last night, around 8:45 p.m., I went to confession at St. John the Baptist Church. It's the Capuchin parish across 31st Street from Madison Square Garden.
I received the sacrament during the "24 Hours of Confession" planned throughout the city by the Cathedral of St. Patrick Young Adults.
The atmosphere inside St. John the Baptist was memorable. Many Filipino and African women were there. Some where upstairs in the church preparing for an all-night prayer vigil while others were downstairs in the church hall making peanut butter sandwiches (for homeless outreach, I surmised).
My choice of St. John the Baptist for confession was not just because of the convenient hour. I had the Capuchin Friars on the brain. Friday morning, I had gone to the funeral of a Capuchin Fr. Bernard Smith at Sacred Heart Church in Yonkers. He was the uncle of a friend.
Four Capuchins were hearing confessions last night. Three friars were in the old-school, booth-style confessionals along the church walls in which you kneel behind a screen. One friar was in a small room at the back of the church where one has the option to be behind a screen or sit face-to-face with the priest.
I opted for the little room and a face-to-face confession. That's how I always did it back in Pennsylvania (where the priests of my hometown parish would have known my voice anyway).
It was a good confession, I think. I had made a list earlier in the day but, when the time came, I didn't need it.
The friar who heard my confession was Indian or Pakistani (or perhaps Sri Lankan). He was kind and urged me to be open to God's grace.
For my penance, he asked me to meditate on Psalm 139.
Here are verses 1 - 12 set to music: