Saturday, September 6, 2014

Unchained Melody: Hope in the Hoosegow

I have wondered why it is that Father Gordon MacRae, a priest falsely imprisoned in The New Hampshire State Prison for Men has become such a beacon in the lives of the many believers who read his weekly postings from Behind These Stone Walls.

This week as Father wrote his post entitled The Shawshank Redemption and the Crime of Innocence it hit me.

Father Gordon MacRae and Pornchai Maximilium Moontri are living parables.  They are in essence living the stories of our own lives but in a more dramatic and graphic fashion.  We wander about our daily lives, carrying the burdens of our own sins on our backs, free in our bodies, yet not free in our spirit.  They are stuck in stir at the NH Pen for Men, but are a witness to spiritual freedom in their daily life.

Father Gordon this week, gives us a glimpse into life in the prison system that is at once chilling and reminiscent of how the devil plays with us in our own daily lives of confinement. He tells of solitary confinement, and of time spent confined to a prison cell built for 4 men but housing 8.  It is only a glimpse, but it is an example of man's inhumanity to man. In the world outside prisons, we might look at legislation that makes things we know to be depravities legal as a form of confining believers to small and shrinking domains.

The potential hopelessness that can be generated in prisoners, by how we, as a society, handle our brothers and sisters, who are like us in general, except that they got caught, struck me as I pondered Father Gordon's article.  I am not trying to diminish the seriousness of the deeds of most prisoners. They have committed serious criminal acts, but in truth are they greater sinners than we are, if all sin is abhorrent to God?  As Pope Francis said, though the context is lost in translation: "Who am I to judge?"

I find that I have to absorb what Father Gordon says for a couple of days. Though sometimes I am able to write my own thoughts about it more quickly, his writing stays inside my breast for a lengthy period and percolates, often aided by readings from the Bible or Liturgy of the Hours or articles by other Catholic writers that I regularly pay attention to.  It amazes me how the points that I am to get from Father Gordon's writings usually come to me in multiple ways to make sure that the point is made.

So, I pondered on what life would be like with another person in less than 100 square feet of living space.  Our family room in Canada is about 3 times that size and looks over our gardens, and a forested park just beyond our property.  Not a very good comparison.  But, in Arizona, we live in a park model trailer, a "candominium" as we like to call our little metal mansions down there.  Even there we have 700 square feet of living space, with exposure to the sunshine and the desert daily. BUT, what would life be like if we were confined to our bedroom there for most of every day, which is about the size of the cell that Father Gordon and Pornchai share?  My wife and I need space from each other to keep us from going "stir" crazy.

But, if Father Gordon, Pornchai and the other prisoners in the New Hampshire hoosegow can survive their confinement, then something must be afoot behind These Stone Walls.  And if it is afoot for them, then surely it must be afoot for us on the outside.

The clue came in this quote from Father Gordon, including the words of the fictional Andy Dufresne from the Shawshank Redemption:
Most important of all to our survival, Andy Dufresne and I both had hope, that one necessary thing that Andy bestowed upon his friend, Red, at Shawshank: “Remember that hope is a good thing, Red, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.  We can certainly argue that the Bible ranking of the three primary virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity is correct in a global sense, Charity (Love) being the greatest, but when your back is against the wall, Hope might just be the "best of things."

A clue to the importance of Hope is found here in the Bible:
Romans 12:12: "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."
Hope is what we see in Father Gordon and Pornchai, and which we must find and see in ourselves as well.  Their tribulations and trials probably bother them as much or more than our own trials bother us, but Hope pervades their existence.  I have witnessed in them both an uptick on the Dow Jones of Hope this past year, and I attribute that to their Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Here is a link to one of many articles that touch on their Consecration at These Stone Walls.  In a world quickly going to Hell in a hand basket, I too, in no small measure because of their example, have consecrated myself to Our Dear Mother, and note that my own Hope has risen.

Locutions to the World is a Catholic blog site that contains prophetic words from Jesus and His Beloved Mother Mary to a person in Pennsylvania and has been reporting those words since late 2010.  The spiritual director of this individual has been instructed to disseminate these words from heaven. In a prophecy received on August 3, 2014, the Blessed Virgin Mary had this to say:
I see the world in such anguish. Never before have I so desired to pour out my gifts. I must always repeat the message. The heavenly Father has placed all of his treasures for the world in my Immaculate Heart because he foresaw this moment in human history when the fires of hell would break forth from beneath the earth.
He placed them there because my heart is so easily broken open and his gifts can fall like raindrops upon the fires. When fires are burning out of control, are not rain clouds a joyous sight? Do they not hold out hope that soon the fires will be overcome? 
The Church must see my heart in this way, filled with heavenly rain, waiting to quench these demonic forces that are evident everywhere and to everyone. Is there not a demonic source to all the wars, to all the diseases, to all the acts of terrorism, to all the hopelessness?
Within a few short weeks on August 21, 2014 Jesus gave these words of prophecy to a person in Ridgetown Ontario under the direction of a retired priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of London. The prophecies received by this individual are located on the Life in the Spirit blog site:
I am forming you today that you may see truly the merits of Heaven for all eternity, versus the deceit and lies of the world and all its views. 
Mindful of the great deception that has been perpetrated against My people to be lead down the path of destruction, I now snatch you back to Myself. 
You will not be taken out of the world, but made to live in the freedom of love and not the captivity of hate and self destruction.
Yes, the evil one would see you destroyed and incapacitated forever. 
I am giving you the opportunity of allowing you to serve your brothers and sisters now through My love now living in you, it will be Me working through you. 
For now, you who follow Me have been raised with Me into a newness of life, rejoice My followers, hold high your heads. 
Do not assume the downcast appearance of those who have no hope, for your hope is in your Saviour.
I am here and have never left you, but in these times of turmoil as you now find yourselves, be sure I am empowering you in all that you need and will need.
Both of these prophecies that predate Father Gordon's words of Hope by moments in the heavenly realm remind us to have hope, and the last one makes it clear that our Hope is in Our Saviour.

All over the world the message from heaven is to Hope in Our Saviour, that Hope is an essential characteristic of those who wish to follow Jesus,

As we read from Father Gordon there is Hope in the Hoosegow, but there is Hope outside the Hoosegow as well.

Have Hope always.

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