Even so, during that crushing time grace and joyful love surrounded me! Going each day to our local prison, I visited men and women in bitter despair. Sundays and Wednesdays, I’d sing at the church groups, trying to kindle the spirits of dear souls half dead. One day, while getting ready for Mass, I heard one of my friends in the group say, “There’s a poor guy here, in real bad shape. Just got a twenty-year sentence for rape. Tried to kill himself . . . slit his throat.” “Oh!” I gasped. My insides turned to stone. I just couldn’t leave him alone! He was going to die. I had to do something. “Lord,” I prayed, “please help me to bring him some hope.”
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For me, Lent is like the buds that come out every spring. Indeed, even though we think of Lent as a somber time for penance and self-denial (as is surely fitting), the fruits of our efforts at putting ourselves voluntarily aside are renewal, joy, and transformation. As we go deep inside in honest self-reflection, we can then make conscious efforts to correct our faults. As we do the hard work of “spring cleaning for our souls,” beautiful new buds soon blossom.
How many times in my own experience has this chilling killing feeling of loneliness come to strangle me as well? I can’t get away from it no matter what I do. Sundays, or long evenings, can be the loneliest times, since everyone is busy with something else.
In the wake of several shootings, the closest one to home thus far having occurred at the Abington Nursing Home, my heart is crying — a bitter lament, pleading — calling out to God!
What has happened (or is happening) in our society that would make such violence acceptable in anyone’s mind? What makes hatred so strong that murder actually becomes an option? And, perhaps even worse, those slain in the Abington case were not the strong and able-bodied, but the weakest and most vulnerable in the community!
As the holiday season approaches, many of us like to celebrate by baking special things to go with the season, like cookies or nut or fruit breads for the festive time. Bread is a staple of nourishment for all. In all cultures and countries, we find types of bread—tortillas, rice, and flat breads, to list a few. Bread is also a sign of hospitality and warmth, which we want to share during the holidays in abundance.
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