Life with a death sentence

    March 11, 2024

    “The things of the past shall not be remembered…there shall always be rejoicing and happiness.”
    Isaiah 65:17

    What a wonderful Lenten message!

    This message of second chances allows us to move forward and make this Lent a time of growth and healing. There is no better example of this than the women on Texas’ Death Row. Through the presence of a Catholic pastoral minister, the women have experienced love and forgiveness over the years. They have grown in their faith, continue to hold and cherish the gift of forgiveness, heal as they work to let go of the outside world’s expectations and focus on giving back through prayer.

    Through study and prayer (a lengthy Lent), the women have come to know their Savior. Through this relationship they have changed. They live in a close community in 6’ x 14’ cells side by side. This can be bad and/or good. God has used it for good to strengthen them through communal prayer, asking forgiveness of each other and offering gratitude. Through the introduction of a cloistered order of sisters who now regularly visit, the women are now Oblates of the Sisters of Mary Morning Star. The women join their ritual of prayer with the international order’s daily intentions. This provides purpose and contributes to their intention for peace, happiness and forgiveness for all of us in this world.

    We all live with a death sentence. Shouldn’t we all be rejoicing and living focused on the happiness of all of our brothers and sisters? What a gift to know that through the act of repentance, the worst things we have done in life shall not be remembered.

    What a wonderful Lenten message!

    Karen Clifton is currently the founding Executive Coordinator of the Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition (CPMC). The goal of CPMC is to promote, recruit, train and empower all people who are called to minister to those affected by incarceration/detention. They also strive to create a more just and merciful carceral system that upholds the dignity of every human person and advances restorative justice. This coalition was the result of a discernment during Karen’s 10 years as the founding Executive Director of Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) in Washington, DC.

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