Taxi Cab Confessions – Spring 2023
The New York cab driver adjusted his rearview mirror.
He squinted as he looked at me in the reflection.
“So, you’re a priest?”
“You on duty?”
It was 5am and pitch dark. I was headed to the airport for an early flight.
In the last 20 minutes, I had woken up, prayed the morning offering, slurped down a cup of coffee, and shoved a donut in my mouth. In the last 20 seconds, I grabbed my bag, stepped off the cold sidewalk and hopped in the yellow car. I was tired and cranky. What was he looking for? An argument? A Catholic trivia question?
Yes, I said, forcing a smile.
“Ok, Father. We got 10 minutes before my next stop. Can you hear my confession?”
Sure, I said. In the name of the Father…
I’ve heard confessions in cars— while driving and as a passenger.
I heard confessions in airports, on park benches, and on a bus. Young soldiers have approached me while waiting for flights. “Father, I’m sorry to bother you. But could you hear my confession? I’m being deployed today, and I’d really appreciate it.”
An older man saw me one summer while I was ordering frozen custard; he offered to pay for mine. He introduced himself and we chatted between spoonfuls of our carmel sundaes. He asked if I could hear his confession. He began: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been 40 years since my last confession.”
Confession is a Catholic sacrament that can be celebrated almost anywhere. All you need is a sinner and a priest. I also go to confession! I recall going out for pizza with a Jesuit friend. Before we went to the restaurant, he asked if I could hear his confession. After he finished, I said, “Hey, can we switch? I need to go, too.” I took off the purple stole and handed it to him; he flipped it over his shoulders and heard my confession. I am a priest and a sinner. I need forgiveness, too.
I also hear confessions in confessionals, in churches, and on retreats.
It is a sacred, sacramental encounter. We open our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to receive His Divine Mercy.
I am always inspired and consoled after hearing confessions. I’m meeting someone with a deep trust in the Lord, who is speaking honestly about her sins and failings. She also believes in the love and power of Christ to forgive her and heal her.
Some confessions are like a gentle ‘spring cleaning.’ It’s been a few weeks since his last confession. The penitent ticks off familiar sins of impatience, jealousy, or foul language.
Others are heavier, meatier, dramatic. It’s been years or decades since their last confession. Sins of adultery, abortion, ancient grudges, getting hurt and hurting someone else in retaliation.
In confession I hear the man’s words, I offer a few words of encouragement, a penance, and finally absolution. In a few minutes, I can see the relief he feels: dropping 20 pounds of dead weight, walking tall, smiling, free. For the first time in a long time, he is at peace with himself, with others and with God.
Lent is a season of penance. We all need it. I know I do! Prayer, fasting and alms are the Church’s classic penitential practices. They strip away what is inessential so that we can enter more fully into relationship with Christ. We need the Divine Heart Doctor to heal our wounded and broken hearts.
Maybe your last confession was six weeks ago, or six months, or six years.
Is Christ calling you to encounter His Sacred Heart in confession this Lent?
Lent is a time for purification and preparation for the great Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Jesus is the one who prepares us, and He is the one who meets us in the Eucharist, on the cross, and in the Resurrection.
“Be missionaries already through your prayer,
by the offering of your daily life.
Your mission is here and now, in your studies and [labors,]
the little things of every day.
In fulfilling it through being open to the will of God,
you are already apostles who are helping the entire Church.
Pray for the people you will meet tomorrow.”
Fr Gautrelet SJ, homily on Dec 3, 1844; founder of the Apostleship of Prayer
excerpt from Love Him Ever More by Fr Joe Laramie SJ, p101
From – Fr Joe Laramie SJ, National Director
Around the nation with Fr Joe!
I’ve been traveling, as usual. Retreats for seminarians in Wisconsin and Missouri, a parish mission in Kansas City, and a men’s retreat in Omaha. My Lent will be absolutely crazy. I’m away every weekend of Lent: a young adult retreat in St Louis, and parish missions in Nashville Louisiana, Atlanta, and Wisconsin. People want to encounter the Sacred Heart of Jesus and I’m honored to assist them through our mission at the Pope’s Prayer Network. On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the Resurrection– Jesus rising from the tomb. I may want to crawl into a tomb to get some sleep after this Lent! I do love meeting so many faithful people around our beautiful nation. Your hearts are burning with the love of Christ!
In other news…
-Thank you for your generosity in the month of December. Many, many folks sent us gifts ranging from $10 to $1000. Your gifts support our mission and outreach: my travel expenses, printing and shipping costs, outreach to schools and parishes, and more. We’re grateful for your prayers and support.
-We bid farewell to Emily, who served in our office in 2022; she entered a convent in Minnesota, Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus. Love and prayers, Sr. Emily!
-We welcome Jocelyn to our Pope’s Prayer USA office! She is a former youth minister and college campus ministerr. She brings a warm heart, sharp mind, and ministry experience to our office. She is also fully bilingual. Muchas gracias, amiga!
-Finally, in the month of March, the pope asks us to pray for victims of abuse, especially those who have suffered harm from members of the Church. We turn to St Joseph as a special patron for those who suffer; St Joseph keeps us close to the hearts of Mary and Jesus.
Prayer to St. Joseph
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Feast days: March 19 & May 1
Pope Francis, Patris Corde, Letter for the Year of St. Joseph