This morning, I took a trip over to Retiro Park–a huge park in Madrid that was originally created for the royals. Among other things, it is chock full of beautiful monuments, a lake where you can rent a rowboat and the Palacio de Cristal, a massive glass building.
These are the sorts of things tourists go to Retiro Park to see. But today, the main attraction was something a little different. Today, the focus was on confession.
Called the Festival of Forgiveness, 200 very modern-looking confessionals have been set up in two massive rows with priests at your disposal in a variety of languages (Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Polish and Portuguese, to name a few).
I thought it was a fitting time to go to confession–and it felt good. Our pilgrimage to Cuatro Vientos aerodome starts in about an hour, followed by a vigil with the Pope, the overnight sleep and culminating with the closing mass tomorrow morning.
The fact that we were sitting made it feel less formal. The priest wanted to know where I was from and instead of the regular penance, asked me to read verses from a small pamphlet which he gave me to take home. The verses he asked me to read seemed to correspond to sins I had confessed.
I thought it was an awesome idea to situate the confessionals in a public place where privacy can still be retained. And only at World Youth Day do you see lineups (made up of youth) to go to confession.