Saturday, August 23, 2008

On Prisons

My lovely goddaughter recently posted photos which she'd received in an email identified as a "new prison" facility in IL. It is my habit to always check on or some other such site to look up the reliability of such emails, which I did before commenting on her post. I thought I'd share part my comment here, since it contains some of my recent reflections (they will make more sense if you read the post under discussion first). By the way, comments on my comment are welcome! :)

I recently listened to a CD with the conversion story of Russell Ford, an Alabama prisoner who converted to the Catholic Faith while in prison and is now a leader in prison ministry and evangelization. His story is intensely powerful and shares some of the troubling details of prison life. And while reading further on him online, I read some appalling firsthand descriptions of a prisoner's environment.

The fact that I had just researched the above made it hard for me to believe that these photos are really a U.S. prison. So I searched "New Cook County Correctional Center" and quickly learned that those photos are actually of a court building and prison in Austria. According to and (two reliable resources for checking on supposed information), the photos have been circulating via email the last several months, decrying the use of our tax dollars, when in fact this is not the case. As I know nothing of Austria's system or laws, I will not propose to pass judgment on the building of this prison. There is, however, no cause for Americans to be up-in-arms about their tax dollars going to it.

As to that "comparison list", I believe I've seen it before... but it seems to me unfitting for people of good will to make such complaints. I doubt there is any hardworking free man who would rather be behind bars, even if it is hypothetically "easier". Prisoners need our prayers and compassion, not our ridicule. The most valued American right and ideal is freedom. That freedom is justly forfeited by one who defies the law. The fact that a prisoner has lost his freedom should be punishment enough for him: we don't need to top it with sub-human conditions.

Now, just because I got on a soapbox here, please don't think I am upset with you, dear goddaughter. :) The subject of your post simply gave me the opportunity to share some recent knowledge and thoughts. I hope they will challenge you and your readers toward the most Christ-like response to this topic.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Today's Quote

In the midst of some sorting, putting away, and de-cluttering, I just came across one of my old Prayer Journals from a few years ago and flipped it open this this quote from St. Claude de la Columbiere. I remember it summing the cry of my heart at the time I first read it — and so many times since then!

Jesus, I feel within me
a great desire to please You
but, at the same time,
I feel totally incapable of doing this
without Your special light and help,
which I can expect only from You.

Accomplish Your will in me —
even in spite of me.

Dear Lord, accomplish your will in us today — even in spite of us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bodies on Display

I read a disturbing article this morning at regarding the touring "human body" exhibits that have become highly popular in the last few years. In these exhibits, real human bodies which have been partially dissected and gone through an extensive preservation process are put on display. While many claim that they have unique educational worth, others have questioned from the beginning the moral uprightness of such an exhibition. As Christians, we understand the inherent worth of each human person — mind, heart, soul, and body. The Theology of the Body teaches that because the design of our bodies teach us about our Creator and our relationship with Him, the body is sacred and precious. Not an object for lustful fantasy, a toy for sexual conquest, a vehicle for trafficking of illegal substances...or a display at a science museum.

The issue also raises concern that such individuals were not given the reverent burial to which we as Christians believe each person is entitled.

The aforementioned article, however, reveals that the questionable nature of this topic goes even deeper than the concerns mentioned thus far. There is evidence that the bodies on display by some producers are very possibly the remains of executed Chinese prisoners. "BODIES: The Exhibition" even has a disclaimer on the opening page of their website stating that they "cannot independently verify that they [the bodies] do not belong to persons executed while incarcerated in Chinese prisons."

From the article:

Among the critics is Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, who according to NZ Catholic newspaper called the display a sort of "human taxidermy" that "degrades the actual people who, through their bodies, once lived, loved, prayed and died."

Read the complete article here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

End of Summer

Every summer I can remember has gone quickly for me, but I think this has to be one of the quickest. The sheer number of things that went on is, to tell the truth, rather dizzying!

I have missed my blog. Thank you to you kind folks that have said you missed me, too. I am striving for virtuous balance in my life; the "holy blend" of prayer, apostolic work, study, recreation, and rest. It amazes me how precious the time is now that one takes for granted as a carefree child.
Lord willing, I will try to work regular posting back into my routine. I have plenty to share from the past few months!

For now, I will leave you with a wonderful quote I just found from St. Augustine, whose feast day is coming up. It sums up a frequent theme of my reflection as of late:

"My love for you, Lord, is not an uncertain feeling, but a matter of concious certainty. With your word you pierced my heart, and I loved you. But heaven and earth and everything in them on all sides tell me to love you."

Photo capture by my sister, Veronica