In the Mail: “I Thank God for You and Your Ministry”

Five days after Christmas, a man sat down and wrote the following letter to CNEWA.

Five days after Christmas, a man sat down and wrote the following letter to CNEWA, in simple block letters on plain lined paper. We were surprised at the return address: a prison in Florida. But as we read these words, we found the message profoundly moving and humbling — a quiet reminder to us all of how God works in the world, and of the grace that can be found in unexpected ways, in unexpected places.

Dear CNEWA missionaries —

I found a copy of your magazine, “One,” at our chapel last weekend. I had never heard of CNEWA before, but I am very thankful that I now have! I found it to be more edifying than I know how to say, but I will try, anyway.

I am in prison for life for robbery, a result of drug addiction, which in its turn was a result of trying to run from God’s will and his claim on my life. I did not understand that when I was out there; but once I got some separation from that life, I could see it clearly. Since I was a cradle Catholic, who was educated by Dominicans through the eighth grade, I knew exactly what I needed to do to get right with the Lord. So I did those things, and I have been walking in his glorious light these last 25 years. I would not trade all of the “freedom” in the world for the relationship that prison compelled me to develop with the savior.

While that is true, it is also true that it is a struggle to keep my spiritual head above water. I have known for years how blessed I am to live in a country that allows me to have freedom of religion. In prison, no less! I thank God for that every day. Because of that, I have a Mass to attend and a Eucharist to receive every Sunday; I have access to a chapel library that is replete with Christian publications, books, Bible studies, study helps. It even has a section devoted to Christian literature. I can get Christian publications in the mail without fear of persecution. I understand how very fortunate I am to have it like this!

But after reading that one copy of your magazine, I understand much more thoroughly how blessed I am! None of the publications I see address foreign missions and needs, and I had no idea how bad things were for so many. It was greatly edifying to learn of your great efforts to bring light into their darkness and to relieve suffering wherever you can. I had no idea. I thank God for you and your ministry.

Because I have been here for most of the last three decades, I have extremely limited contact with the outside, and it has been many years since I was in a position to aid your efforts. I wish very much that I could. You can be certain that you will now have a staunch prayer partner every day from now on. It broke my heard to learn of the terrible abominations committed against God’s children and others, and I can certainly do that much to help you. It lifts me up to know that you faithfully continue the work.

I wonder if CNEWA has…a ministry to enable an indigent and out-of-touch prisoner to get your great publication? I wish that I could pay for a subscription, but I can’t. I would love to continue to be bolstered by stories of your ministry and our Lord’s worldwide work, if it is possible. There only a handful of Catholic Christians here, or any type of Christians, for that matter. Every one of us will read cover-to-cover any issue of your magazine that you send to me, you can be certain of that.

Please know that whatever you decide, you are now in my prayers, and you will remain so. May our Lord bless you all and prosper in your ministry.

Your brother in Christ,

We are sending a complimentary subscription to “our brother in Christ,” along with our gratitude and our prayers.

We are reminded of Pope Francis’s words to prisoners in Philadelphia last September: “I am here above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own. I have come so that we can pray together and offer our God everything that causes us pain, but also everything that gives us hope, so that we can receive from him the power of the resurrection.”

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