I didn’t know I was obsessed until it stopped. (Anthony) There are tears in the eyes of this 41 year old guy who sees through nonsense with his blue eyes and describes himself as not very religious “until I took a knee at a church in South Philly and then kept doing so at daily mass,” he tells me. “I substituted one ritual for another, Father,” Anthony explains in his offhanded way. “See, I used to shoot myself up with heroin every morning for fifteen years.” He holds open his arms to show me the dark spots from his punctured veins.
Serving as a Catholic chaplain in the Philadelphia Prison with its 8000 plus inmates, I hear a lot of ‘confessions.’ It is humbling to hear these men and women tumble out their sins as I sit across from them at a metal table in the cellblock. Holding their hands, I pray with them. At the same time I am struck at how their stories need to be heard by others. The wrongdoings yes, but about the dysfunctional families they grew up in also. The lack of fathering/mothering. The poverty. The lostness and sense of unworthinesss. About how they are being found as well, in of all places–a prison! These are God’s daughters and sons too, and they are being found by the Good Shepherd. If them, why not us?
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