After working our way through the first five corporal works of mercy during Lent (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick), it was time for our little family to visit the imprisoned:
I was imprisoned and you visited me.
While most penitentiaries don’t welcome random children to come in and visit prisoners, there are plenty of ways we can unite ourselves to, minister to, and serve the imprisoned. There was one main way we chose to unite ourselves with the imprisoned: the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we examine our own lives and acknowledge our own sins, we shorten the distance between ourselves and those who have been incarcerated for their choices and actions. This is a great time to get in the habit of a simple nightly examination of conscience and frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Along with praying for the imprisoned, your family could make a donation to the prison ministry in your community. As well, last year we had the pleasure of meeting Sister Helen Prejean (the real-life nun behind the movie “Dead Man Walking”) and hearing her speak with such mercy and compassion about the prisoners to whom she had the honour to minister: you could watch the movie, add Sister Helen’s books to your Lenten reading list and/or donate to her cause:
Our patron saint of visiting the imprisoned: St. Maximilian Kolbe, otherwise known as Prisoner 16670 in Auschwitz, where he ministered to fellow prisoners, heard confessions and conducted secret masses with smuggled bread. He eventually volunteered his life in ransom for another prisoner who was sentenced to death (a father of young children who ultimately survived), and died in July of 1941.