Friday, March 16, 2012

The Circle of Love -By Fr. Antonio Elfeghali

The story of an American doctor who turned his back on Mary. On an unexpected day,
he found her back into his life. Through Mary, he came back to Christ.

In one of Michigan Jails, many inmates, are experiencing a personal or a communal encounter with the Living Jesus Christ. Many inmates are able to say at one point “We have found the Messiah.” (Jn 1:41) Based on my experience in jail ministry during the last three years, I have found that most of these encounters happened:
1- through the Eucharist after an hour in His Presence;
2- through the Holy Scriptures after meditating on a gospel passage;
3- through Mary by her motherly and merciful figure after reciting the Rosary.
Although most of the inmates are non-Catholics, we try to teach them, in a gentle way, to pray the Rosary, to ask for the intercession of the Saints, and to pray for the souls in Purgatory. These forms of popular piety were an opportunity for them to encounter the living Lord.

And here is another story of a 45-year-old doctor who converted in Jail thanks to Mary.

It was on December 7th, 2003, when we (the Catholic Volunteers & the inmates) had an “Evangelical
Evening”, where we gathered to read a passage from the Bible and discuss it together. We usually start with a prayer to the Holy Spirit. Then, we read a passage from the New Testament. We meditate on the Word of God. We raise questions and try to find answers related to each one’s experience in life. We conclude with spontaneous prayers and a blessing. Now it happened that day that two nuns traveled to jail for the first time and carried with them a six-foot long Rosary- I have never seen like this Rosary before. They sat down in circle with the inmates. One of the nuns handed the six-foot Rosary to three inmates and they started praying.

One of these inmates, a 45-year-old doctor, with beads in hand, began to cry and sob. Most of the eyes in the room were focused on him and people wondered what was his story.

He said, “Twenty years ago, I was on a boat in Pearl Harbor. It was the commemoration of the Pearl Harbor Attacks. I stood up, took the Rosary in my hand, threw it into the ocean, and turned my back on God. It was December 7th, 1983 when I decided to reject Mary and God. Now today, December 7th, 2003, here is the Rosary back in my hand! It was given to me unexpectedly. I see that even if I had turned my back on Mary & God, which led me to a spiritual bankruptcy, Mary & God would never turn their back on me!”

When the people in the Jail heard this story, they praised God. On that Sunday, the doctor/inmate turned
his heart back to Jesus thanks to Mary. A week later, he was released from Jail. He spent one week in Jail
for the first time in his life. But it was a special week where his love for Mary came back into his life.

The Catholic Volunteers are eyewitnesses of these special encounters between the inmates and the living
Lord. Day by day, they believe in the call to be heralds of the Good News and to carry out a special mission of building up broken members of his Mystical Body.

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