By Beatrice Cutler
I am not a theologian. I am a wife and a mother of three children, who left my European family and everything else behind when I got married and moved to the United States.
In 2009 we became parishioners of St. Albert the Great Church. The wonderful programs offered by the archdiocese and by our parishes have allowed me to deepen my love for our Catholic faith and to enter in a more intimate relationship with the Holy Trinity.
In 2012 I came across Father (now Bishop) Robert Barron’s online homilies (www.wordonfire.org) that reflect his great understanding and love for God and the church’s tradition. I also learned about lectio divina from Sal Della Bella at St. Albert. This form of prayer fascinated me, as it motivates us to see how God does really speak to each one of us through sacred Scripture.
To obtain the mentoring credits needed for the advanced catechist certificate, I decided to bring Bishop Barron’s homilies and the corresponding Sunday Gospel readings to the women of Dismas Charities, a halfway house for prisoners. The doors opened to me extremely easily, and I found myself, with my European accent, surrounded by a small group of women. It was the first time I was in contact with women coming from different prisons, and it was surprising to see how welcoming and nice they were.
Each Thursday, we explore the Sunday’s Gospel readings together by following the lectio divina process. We then exchange our insights.
Each session ends with Bishop Barron’s homily on that same Gospel reading.
What happens during this hour together is truly beautiful and astonishing. I have rarely experienced such unity, love and openness of hearts. The way that each inmate welcomes Jesus is very impressive. We always have a great time, with much laughter, emotions, reflections and insights. We are gathered around Jesus.
One of the inmates brought a friend of hers who was reluctant to join “the Bible Study,” as it is called. This woman was intimidated because she had never opened a Bible before, but she came back the following week and the weeks that followed until she left the center.
One day, before she arrived in the room, the other women explained how she stood up in front of all the inmates and led prayer all by herself. She wrote me a note, saying: “I love you! Thank you so much for helping me understand God and the Bible. God bless.”
The women long for him (Jesus Christ). They are really thirsty for true peace, for love. They are thirsty for the only one who can give them all they long for: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
I had never imagined that I could bring so much and also receive so much only by giving one hour a week to those who have made the choices that led them to prison. How blessed I am to become an instrument of his peace and to let others know that God is loving and merciful and that they are loved more than they imagine. Jesus “came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). We are all called to bring Christ to others. The more we give the more we receive!
Here is what a woman who recently left the center wrote:
“For some of us, being in a treatment center is the end of the road. There are a lot of broken women that just need a word from God. I will forever be grateful to Beatrice for coming into our center every Thursday at 2 p.m. I looked forward to our time together. I am always eager to learn more about God’s word. Learning from Father Barron and taking some verses to read, study and reflect on with lectio divina have opened my heart and mind. Thank u!! I will never forget you.”
Beatrice Cutler is a parishioner of St. Albert the Great Church.
Catholics are invited to share their experiences of being Catholic; good news stories, such as service projects and great prayer or retreat experiences; and ideas and best practices for sharing their faith with others.
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