The day I received and edited this post, (13 October) we read about ‘Decisions’ and how this isn’t always a small and cosy world; ending with the exhortation: pray for Wisdom! Unwise decisions have led to some men being in prison, despite the gifts and talents they may be blessed with. Here, then, is a reflection from our own Fr Valentine who works with prisoners.
Who is a Prisoner in Prison? By Father Valentine Erhahon
A prisoner – in our context – is a man who is legally committed to prison as a punishment for a crime.
Any crime no matter how small affects everyone: the victim, the criminal, the society and the criminals relationship with God.
A prisoner has hurt someone and may still be hurting someone. He should be sorry.
A prisoner is someone’s son. He is someones Father. He is someones best friend. He is someones brother. He is someones trusted friend. He is someones partner. He is a son of God and loved unconditionally by God.
A prisoner is also a good person. He is a gentleman. He has talents. He has kindness in him. He laughs, he cries, he sings, he argues, he bleeds, he understands, he hurts, he learns, he fears, he cares, he teaches and he forgives himself, he forgives others, he asks for forgiveness.
The beauty of our Faith as Catholics is that we believe in Redemption. We know and hold as true that we can look into any eye and choose to see goodness. We recognise the difficulties and know we may fail in our quest, but we continue to choose to see goodness regardless.
We know that in the end, God made everyone in his own image and likeness: male and female he created them and saw that we are good the book of Genesis tells us.
It is therefore our duty to show and remind a prisoner that he is a good person. He is a good man.
That is why:
I believe the best way to strike at the conscience of a prisoner is not by constantly reminding him how bad he is: But by respectfully showing a prisoner how much good lies inside of him just waiting to be enhanced; and then, ever so gently, he will start to believe how good he can become.
A Prisons Week Prayer
Lord, you offer freedom to all people. We pray for those in prison. Break the bonds of fear and isolation that exist. Support with your love prisoners and their families and friends, prison staff and all who care. Heal those who have been wounded by the actions of others, especially the victims of crime. Help us to forgive one another, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly together with Christ in his strength and in his Spirit, now and every day.