Christmas in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center (LPCC) from 2000 until mandatory medical retirement in 2008 was a rather confining occasion. Who wants to be spending time in a “gated community” when family or friends are exchanging gifts and celebrating the focal point of human history? Christmas in jail, however it occurred is a “downer.” Eight were enough for me. Daily the gospel passage provided wind for my sails: “I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25)
Ministers, priests, family and friends frequently brought books to incarcerated women and men in LPCC. To prevent drugs, unsuitable literature from being smuggled into the jail, I had to examine everything that was passed along as religious literature. When hard back bibles or books were given it was difficult to confiscate such gifts. Hard back bibles could be used to “pop open” locks or possibly become a non-lethal type of weapon if wrapped in a towel or clothing.
One confiscated book I still retain is a collection of quotes about Jesus going back hundreds of years.
Harry Emerson Fosdick said, “No one has ever said ‘Jesus did not exist.’” A Japanese student said, “When Jesus enters our lives, we cannot get away.” All are surely transformed by the Spirit within us.
Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan spiritual leader recently observed, “The first Incarnation did not occur with the birth of Jesus. That is when a few began to take the appearance of God seriously. However, God’s first real revelation occurred 4.5 billion years ago with the creation of our home – Earth.” Scientists have sophisticated methods of determining the age of Earth. Now Earth is threatened by us.
Human history is a mere 10,000 years of recorded drama. Compared to Earth’s multi-billion year story, humans appeared late on the scene about thirty seconds before midnight on January 31st.
In true Franciscan form Pope Francis will issue an encyclical on care of Earth in 2015. We are slowly realizing that salvation extends to our entire planet. A letter from Francis to the world will widen our awareness of preserving and protecting God’s first Incarnation/revelation billions of years ago.
Delegates from 190 nations concerned about Earth’s future are now meeting in Lima, Peru as billions observe a universal sacred season – 2014 Anno Domini
Teilhard wisely warned
We either adore nature
Or leap from high cliffs*
“The day is not too far distant when humanity will realize we are faced with a choice of adoration or suicide.” (Teilhard de Chardin 1888-1955)
May we all rejoice in our gift of sacred life, adore Christ and love Earth who nourishes us daily.
It is our first Christmas without Rose’s mother who died in September at 107 years. It is her first resplendent Christmas. LOVE, PEACE, GOOD HEALTH – Rose & Vic.