" "Neither earth nor rock could have held the Cross, nor could the Cross of nails have held God’s only-begotten Son, had not love held him fast.” – St. Catherine of Siena

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Musings - Suffer the Little Children (and Sinful Prisoners Too)


(Image from Biblebios.com)
If God used Balaam’s donkey to get that prophet’s attention, I guess he can use me to get yours. May these periodic postings on the second and fourth Mondays of each month (God willing) generate fruitful discussion and faithful change.


I was prompted a few weeks back to go through and empty out my desk drawer. It had been far too long since I had de-cluttered it. I had forgotten the hidden treasures it contained. Then I saw them – about 15 of them. Suddenly, I realized how long it had been since I last went to prison.  


Odd, isn’t it. The one place I visited where I was always immensely blessed is filled with men and women whom the majority of us would never voluntarily choose to have anything to do with - no matter that our Faith teaches that all of us, including the greatest sinners among us, were created in the image and likeness of God and that each of us, without exception, by and through the unearned and undeserved grace of Almighty God, can, despite what we might have done in the past,  become new creations in Him who made us. Every one of us – no exceptions! We must, of course, humble ourselves, acknowledge our sins, ask for God’s forgiveness, resolve not to sin again and perform the proscribed penance.
 

A difficult concept for many of us adults to accept but one which little children are more readily open to hear and understand. How do I know?

 
For years, we would deliver hand written notes and drawings from young children and distribute them to the inmates attending our prison retreats - men separated from their own families because of their criminal conduct.

 
There were no names on these sheets of paper. No way for anyone to identify who sent them or from whence they came. It would be impossible for anyone to trace and find the child who took the time to reach out to an unknown, sinful and often forgotten human being.

 
It is amazing what God can do with the little we give Him. Year after year, I was moved to see the impact these brief notes and childish drawings had on the hardest of hearts. The simple directness of these little scribbles penetrated hearts that we adults could never reach. Light entered and dispersed the deeply imbedded darkness buried within these troubled souls – even if just for a few fleeting moments.

 
I wanted to share a few of these gems with you but could not get them to scan properly. My typewritten versions of what they actually wrote (spelling and all) will have to suffice:
 
Dear Friend,
I hope you know that Jesus is still with you. If you pray this pray, you mite think that god is right beside you. God bless you. 
Say the pray: My Jesus, Mercy. Mary help!
  
Dear Friend,
I hope you are happy. Don’t do anything never again.
 
Dear Friend,
We prad for you today god already forgave you for what ever you did I hope you will make a good choise if you get out of jail!
 
 
Dear Friend
I hope you got Judge fairly. I hope you are praing and asking for forgiveness.
 
 
Dear Friend,
I prayed for you today. God always forgives you. He loves you. It is a beautiful outside. Try to go out and help the world when you get out.
 
Dear Friend
I hope you can get outside and get some fresh air sometime. I hope you come out of jail soon. When you come out of jail I hope you are a changed man when you come out.
 
Dear friend, 

 
Hi I prayed for you today. I hope you change because God is always there for you. I hope you read this so you will never forget this.

Many a weekend retreat took an entirely different and more positive turn after these small notes were shared. God used these little anonymous evangelizers powerfully!

 
You can imagine our dismay then when after several years, we were prohibited from bringing these letters into prison. The change in prison policy was at the request of a few Catholic correctional officers who objected to the distribution of any notes of encouragement from any child being given to any criminal. So much for teaching our children the corporal and spiritual works of mercy!

A child lets in the Light of God and we adults snuff it out.

9 comments:

  1. How appalling! What is so awful about little children encouraging prisoners to love God? I don't get it. Even one soul converted is worth more than all the wealth of this world. Deprivation of hope leads to the "I've got nothing to lose," attitude. Then a person can and will do anything because he has nothing to live for.

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  2. Oh, my goodness! Head-smack. Protection of children has become an idol in and of itself, as any intrinsically good thing can be when twisted. That makes me sad. I was thinking what a good idea this would be for my kids!

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  3. Barb:

    You are right. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this powerful but simple form of evangelization. It benefits everyone and harms no one. So very hard to understand...

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  4. In God's perfect timing may your children and thousands more have the opportunity to touch the hearts of men and women who hunger to experience God's love. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. These notes remind me of Cursillo in prison. Thank God, the prison I minister to still allows palanca.

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  6. Faith:

    Its been more than 28 years since my Cursillo weekend. Your reference to palanca instantly brought back so many powerful memories of that experience.

    Yes, indeed, palanca belongs in prison.

    Your brothers behind the bars are blessed to have so regularly in their midst.

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  7. I was so delighted with this idea, then SO DISAPPOINTED to read it was cancelled! I hope everyone reading will recommend it heartily to whoever you know in prison ministry! What is banned for Michael's group might still be possible in other places. I think it's a beautiful gesture. Please find another ministry and share these unused letters!

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  9. Charlotte:

    Thanks for such an excellent idea. Let's hope many respond positively to your suggestion.

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