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Visit the Imprisoned

“A single act of kindness can be the spark of light needed to keep moving forward.”

Our Lenten Journey through the Corporal Works of Mercy continues.  

 

Looking back a few years, I find myself in a place and situation that I had not ever dreamed of. As a Deacon Chaplain I visit and minister to men and women in prison, to those suffering in hospitals and other institutions and this service has now become a blessing in my life. Matthew’s Gospel speaking about the Corporal Works of Mercy have become my “go to” scripture passages, and my strength. Reflecting back I realize, my mind and heart are filled with memories and experiences that have moulded me into quite a different person. This ministry has transformed me.

Yes, God is calling all of us to be transformed by giving food to the hungry, welcoming the stranger, tending to the sick, giving drink to the thirsty and yes visiting those in prison. But Jesus is speaking to these actions also in a much broader sense as well. There are many forms of imprisonment in our society even today. There are of course, those who are in prison or correctional facilities. But Jesus’ words remind us of those imprisoned when they face mental and physical abuse at home, the ones suffering from mental illness and feel imprisoned by society, those whose addictions imprison them, and the lonely who feel incarcerated in their own homes, especially during this pandemic. There are many in our midst who feel imprisoned. Just as physical bars and walls keep us locked in, fears, anxiety, depression and hopelessness are all prisons that hold us captive, keeping us from feeling the love of God. The Lord had compassion for those imprisoned by invisible walls as well as those imprisoned by real walls.

Jesus calls us to action. Our Gospel constantly calls us to journey, as a people, without the exclusion or rejection of anyone. No one is to be left behind, discarded or forgotten. Being merciful, being close to those who suffer, means getting our feet and hands dirty. And that is ok because we imitate our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Being unafraid to reach out with compassion to those who are “in the muck” and whose pain and imprisonment make them cry out, we begin to live like Jesus and live in Jesus. We become gradually transformed into men and women of deeper goodness, compassion and love, builders of God’s kingdom.

In these few years of Chaplaincy ministry I have learned that those to whom we reach out are the greatest of teachers, teachers of what matters: about love and lost love, compassion and lack of compassion, loneliness, fear and the gift of companionship. During this Lenten season and especially this this week, let us partake more fully in our actions and so live our mission as Christians by taking up our cross and following Jesus. Believe me if you do this you too will be transformed as I was. May God Bless you all.”

(Deacon Lorne MacNeil, Diocese of Antigonish in  Corporal Works of Mercy, Atlantic Liturgical Commission, 2021)

 

“There are many ways to be in prison … who rely on visits for connection to themselves and the outside world.”
Our youth on visiting the imprisoned:

 

Each Sunday of Lent, plus Palm Sunday and Wednesday of Holy Week, we will share a reflection and video to learn of and practise the seven Corporal Works of Mercy:

Feed the Hungry
Give Water to the Thirsty
Clothe the Needy
Shelter the Homeless
Visit the Sick
Visit the Imprisoned
Bury the Dead

The information is based on a new resource prepared by the Atlantic Liturgical Commission, and includes submission from diocesan staff and clergy throughout the Atlantic Provinces.
(Click on the image to download)

We invite you to download the resource and celebrate the prayer services at home. The music, readings, reflections and prayers are provided for you and you may wish simply to use, for example, the YouTube link for the hymn, but if you are able to sing yourselves then that is encouraged. We invite you to use these rituals in ways that work best for you and your situations. That we gather to pray and act is the most important thing.

 

Watch for our final posting on Palm Sunday: Bury the Dead

Communications Officer, Diocese of Antigonish

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