Prison Ministry never fails me; never. Tonight I took an extra shift, as our assigned Priest had an important parish function to attend, and I ventured north to visit with the men. I'm always amazed that now matter how lousy my work week may be, or how overworked I am, it is an evening of prison ministry that lifts my spirit; lifts my soul! This week's visit was another spirit and soul lifting evening of ministry.
I had about 30 men attend the prayer/communion service tonight as the men choose what songs to sing and who among them would read the 1st and 2nd reading. We always follow the readings of the upcoming Sunday liturgy. They are remarkably engaged in the recitation of prayers and responses, listen intently to the readings and homily, participate robustly in sharing the sign of peace and receive Holy Communion with a reverance I wish I would witness most Sundays. After receving the Eucharist I always allow quite some time for silent prayer as most of the men remain on their knees despite hard, concrete floors. And I never leave the prison without all thanking me for coming and wishing me safe travels and a hearty come back soon.
Prison ministry, as I have confessed many times before, was never on my radar. It became my clinical pastoral assignment while in formation and I was immediately overwhelmed by how much I received from what little I was giving the men. Candidly, the men express gratitude to every visitor, both because we come with the Word of God and the Body of Christ, and because we come. We come. We are present to them. We accept them for who they are and where they are in this life's journey. And we share a faith rooted in Jesus Christ and the Church He founded!
While experiencing whatever trial or tribulation I must endure, and most of them are from a difficult work situation, these men show me how to endure greater trials with the hope and faith that gets them through another day, another week, even another year.
Prison ministry never fails me; never!
Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 5/25
5 hours ago