This week, with a lot of grace, I got to see 5 of the 6 women in the jail, one on one. Also attended the Catholic jail ministry meeting yesterday. A woman I have never met before attended. She has been a volunteer for about a year if not more but didn’t quite know what the ministry was about. We got a chance to chat and she’s interested in doing one on ones. She’s a spiritual director and will be great help. A particular woman came to my mind for her. When I saw that particular inmate that evening, she asked me flat out, “What’s a Jesuit?” because I had told her the story of where the bible I was using came from. By the end of our talk she said she wanted to do the Spiritual Exercises. Praise God for bringing the volunteer!!!!
Three of the six, I discovered Wed, are very serious about entering the church. I wanted to take the Alcoholics 4 Christ steps and add in some church teaching, and Wednesday night, a Catholoc leader handed me the RCIA workbook they use, so I got to work, while praying. I get these ideas sometimes and sometimes its the Spirit, sometimes it’s me, or sometimes the timing isn’t right.
Friday, the timing was perfect. I had completed the first one nad talked at length and she seems a very serious candidate. The whole process also brought me back into reading Catholic Catechism. The next night I went back to see the one woman that only got a few minutes, (they shut down the visitations at 10:30pm), and she was eventually in tears with this beautiful desire to change her life and enter the church. “I want to be Catholic” she said plainly.
When I first met with her, I was not convinced that she was in earnest, she seemed to be conning for wahtever she could get. One of these things was that her stuff was in storage and I had this feeling she wanted me to rescue it for her but, unlike other times, I didn’t feel prompted by the Spirit to do that. I’m not good yet at discerning when to give and when not to, but mostly what God has prompted me to give has been smaller immediate needs pertaining to what will help them at the jail, not out in the world. This may change once the transitional house, Lord willing, starts, but God wants me to be faithful with what I got, which is ministering only in the jail right now.
Monday she lost everything she owned from the house, except a dining room table. She told me about pictures, that was the toughtest because it was irreplaceable. Her daughter’s graduation things, dolls. She had started out insisting she couldn’t expect her family to take on this burden she’d place on them, trying to have a more gracious perspective but I could tell she was denying her true feelings as well.
I pointed out that family was intended to bear each other’s burdens. I asked if her children went to church. No. They know the Lord, though, she countered.
We looked at the book of Job and I read to her the final verses, how God restored Job, who refused to curse God, with twice what he had initially. I said, he didn’t curse God, but he did wish he had never been born. Somehow, again, grace abounding, the Spirit got her to open up and cry out to God for the neediness and abandonment she felt.
As I prayed for her transformation and internal restoration, I later reflected on both the sessions where I am leading these candidates into the church. Building on the 10 year presence there of Catholic ministries, I lean into that family as Church, that’s the people, the team, these ladies are joining. The Friends on the Master meeting offered even more support, immediately, today I have two numbers to call.
Meanwhile the Presbyterians are interested. The elders asked my pastor some questions and we will next need to sit down.
I keep reading things on waiting on God. It is so difficult to be in the midst of such great need and not be able to act. Yet, God is in this need all the time. He knows what He’s doing. If I begin to act outside what He’s acting, I could blow the whole thing.
So I will make my two phone calls. I’ll write the 12 step RCIA reflection guides. I’ll teach Wednesday on Mary, and visit as many as I can on Friday.
I read in Jewish Press this morning a Jonathan Sacks article about how all the Israelites did was complain, until they got to work on the Tabernacle. Then Moses had to stop them from giving. He continues later, “Judaism is God’s call to responsibility. He does not want us to rely on miracles. He does not want us to be dependent on others. He wants us to become his partners, recognizing that what we have, we have from Him, but what we make of it is up to us – …”
All this time I’ve been in agnst over, should I partner with Catholics, should I partner with Protestants, can we possibly work together? These may still be questions but that is secondary. As I walk in obedience, I’m watching for Him.
Lord, I want to partner with you. Cooperate with Your Spirit. See Your will be done. You know I have preferences, but You have all our best in mind. Continue to guide me and THANK YOU for showing me so much. Change my heart so that I can trust you more as I walk, without all this unnecessary worry. You are my shepherd, Jesus. There is nothing that I lack.