Vocation Blog

Story:       Every Sunday morning I awake at five to begin my final preparation for Mass in Division 6, Cook County Jail. Men serving time or waiting for their trial make up the congregation. Some are in protective custody, some sexually diverse, most are not Catholic, and all of us are standing in the need of prayer which we often sing for an opening hymn.  It is a privilege as well as a bit of a challenge, this weekly opportunity to connect with society’s outcast in prayer and song praising God who is not Catholic, as Pope Francis reminds us.

It can be humbling to enter the secure area needing to pass through check points similar to the screening airline passengers are subjected to – first in the gatehouse then back outside for a long walk to the division entrance for another screening.  Once inside a call goes out for Catholic Mass while I prepare the multipurpose room with its broken bleacher seats and hope the noise will decrease during our service.

            The men are grateful and I am blessed to be there with them. There within the walls behind tall gates topped and bottomed with razor wire you come close to those whom society is to ready to keep at a distance.

            In his book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (p. 14), Bryan Stevenson’s grandmother tells him, “You can't understand most of the important things from a distance, Bryan. You have to get close.” In the assembly of the incarcerated, praying, proclaiming the Sunday’s scripture readings, singing and gathering at the table of reconciliation to partake of the Super of the Lamb is getting close through unity in the body of Christ. Hezekiah Walker sings in a current hymn, “I need you, you need me. …I need you to survive. We're all a part of God’s body.”

            I recently read a phrase that says so well what it means to get close. The author Andrew Fletcher wrote that Martin Luther King Jr. was “attracted to human hardship; he did not react to suffering by simply rising to the occasion when he came across it. He sought it out.” We get close by seeking out – by pulling in close to us those estranged or outcast.

            Prayer services and visits in the County Jail, visits one-on-one with youth in the Juvenile Detention Center, accompaniment in courtrooms (juvenile, adult or appellate) bring one close enough to America’s broken justice system to see the absence of mercy. Pope Francis asks us, during this Jubilee of Mercy year, to be like Jesus and put mercy before judgment … and certainly not leave it out all together in the court of law.

 

******

Refection: Peter, John and James were pulled in and embraced by the radiant presence of Jesus, Elijah and Moses. So close, they wanted to stay. Have you ever felt like you don't want a rich, fulfilling experience to end? It’s like you get too close, pulled in and you don't want to leave. Proximity brings on intimacy.

            Brian wanted another hug from his grandmother “because it made me happy to be wrapped in her formidable arms.” There are times when we are happy to feel the depth of God’s loving, merciful presence and know “it is good that we are here” wanting to stay.  Occasionally I've not been ready to leave at the end of Mass with the men in the county. I have sat in silence for long moments with a youth incarcerated in detention after a prayer together. When one is with the least of our brothers or sisters, getting close is getting caught up in the presence of the Lord, in the spirit of the Lord, in the healing of the Lord. When did we get close to you, Lord? As long as you got close to one of the least you got close to me and I pulled you in like a grandmother wanting to keep you close in my formidable arms.

                                                    ******

Ckick below for:

Scripture Passages to Reflect on Daiy

Lenten practices for this week

This Week’s Daily Prayer

This Week’s Point:  During this Jubilee year of Mercy year, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) 

*****

This week’s author is Fr. Denny Kinderman, C.PP.S., a priest of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Ordained in 1967 he has been pastor and director of lay associates called Precious Blood Companions.  Fr. Denny moved to Chicago in 1999 and  continues as a mentor at the Precious Blood Center for Reconciliation at 51st and Elizabeth in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.  He volunteers for Kolbe House as a chaplain at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center and at Cook County Jail. ***** 

For more information about Kolbe House, visit www.kolbehouseministry.org

 

 

A Scripture Passage To Reflect on Daily

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed.  Romans 12:1&2a

******

Lenten Practices For This Week

o        Every day this week allow Jesus to pull you in close and “listen to him.”

o       Allow Jesus  to be, like a loving grandmother, your “Precious Lord” who can take you by your hand and “bring you where you do not wish to go.” John 21:18

                          o       Strive to participate in  -- not just attend Mass.

o       As best you can get involved in transforming, fixing our broken social justice system.  Consider calling your state representative or write a letter to the editor. 

 

  •    Be merciful.  Consider a kind word or a hello to a homeless person and a     small  donation.  Recognize that this is as much for you as the person him/herself. 

o       Read  Just Mercy.  Then write in your journal for 15 minutes about how your feel about what you've read..  What did you read that you strongly agree with?  What did you read that you strongly disagree with?  Write  down whatever comes into your mind.   Don't worry about spelling or grammar.  Keep your hand moving. 
     This writing is for your eyes only.  You will not be asked to share it with or show it to anyone.  Write legibly because you will be asked to  read your journal as a Lenten practice for Holy Week.

******

This Week’s Daily Prayer

Lyrics of the hymn Near to the Heart of God by Cleveland B. McAfee

 Watch a YOUTUBE VIDEO at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8d4NkNI5zY

 

There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God;
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.

 

refrain:
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God;
Hold us, who wait before Thee,
Near to the heart of God.

 

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God;
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God;
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God

******

This Week’s Point:  During this Jubilee year of Mercy year, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

******

This week’s author is Fr. Denny Kinderman, C.PP.S., a priest of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Ordained in 1967 he has been pastor and director of lay associates called Precious Blood Companions.  Fr. Denny moved to Chicago in 1999 and  continues as a mentor at the Precious Blood Center for Reconciliation at 51st and Elizabeth in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.  He volunteers for Kolbe House as a chaplain at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center and at Cook County Jail.

******

 

For more information about Kolbe House, visit www.kolbehouseministry.org

VOCATION DIRECTOR
FR. TIMOTHY MONAHAN

 

 

VOCATION BLOG

 

VOCATION EVENTS

Exploring Priesthood Weekend 
Read more... 
 

Oct. 27-29, 2017
Jan 12-14, 2018
Apr 16-18, 2018
 

VOCATION NEWS

 

POPE FRANCIS TWEETS