I wrote this over a year ago.I came across it while looking for a another document and thought it worth reposting.
Charlie has been visiting the prison for a Saturday morning bible study for almost 18 years. The men come and go, but the small group of religious volunteers from the Catholic Church have been steadfast in opening scriptures for the prisoners there. They invited Charlie and I to come to the Wednesday night Mass so they could pray for us as we prepare to leave. Charlie is a regular visitor and has a badge but I had to get clearance and then go through security. It was a minor inconvenience to the special evening I was about to experience. Some of you may have read my short story “Wednesday night at the Prison” written almost exactly two years ago when I attended Mass there just prior to my brain procedure for Parkinson’s disease. This Mass was no less special. First the singing is amazing. Fr Daniel Maxwell, the presider, commented on the robust song lyrics brought off the page of the St Michaels Hymnal by the masculine voices. After the reading of the Passion, Fr. Maxwell summarized what it means to have passion in your life. It is to love in such a way that you make unbelievable sacrifices, as Jesus did when he was handed over be crucified. Reflecting on this reading, which I know I have heard at least 60 times and always gain more understanding, I thought about how much love it takes to love someone enough to lay down your life for them. In the Catholic Church Jesus is still hanging on the cross. He didn’t die for us and then we remember his death by a neat and tidy cross. The gruesome passion he suffered is there as a reminder He is still with us IN OUR MESSY AND OFTEN GRUESOME LIVES, ready to forgive our sins no matter how bad they are. He hasn’t left us, although we may leave him. He will welcome us back if we only ask.
Warm handshakes, smiles and good wishes were exchanged as the inmates left the chapel and returned to their cells. We went another direction, out into the cool night air. Laughing and joking as we walked to our cars. We are free. Many of the men we met tonight, although living behind these walls and wires are also free.They have reclaimed Jesus and made Him their Passion.