St. Dismas Guild July 2016
“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
HAPPY AND BLESSED INDEPENDENCE DAY – GOD BLESS AMERICA
PO Box 2129 Escondido CA 92033
Dear St. Dismas Guild, I am 52-years old. I have never married, have an adult daughter in the USAF, 2 grand kids, and completed K-12 grades amid gangs, drugs and violent crime in the ghetto. I was raised to believe in God and His Word which led me to the faith in Jesus Christ that saved me. He loved and died for me too. As with all Christians, Satan attempted to seduce my young faith and he succeeded, leading to many youthful misjudgments, while ignoring the precepts of my bible. As a gang member, drug user & lawbreaking individual, I was incarcerated many times as a youth and adult. The lessons of these experiences were neglected leading to my current sentence of 36-to-life. While serving my current sentence, I have reestablished my relationship with my Savior, Jesus, earned my GED and acquired numerous bible-related certificates over the last 15 years. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer, the guidance available through the Holy Spirit and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I thank God for my life. No matter how isolated I am now, things could be much worse, but he is a good God. I composed my testimony to assure you that, while I messed up this life, I will not mess up my prospects for the next one. And there will be a next one! Sincerely in Christ. RH
Thank you RH for showing us the power of God’s Word to transform your life. You’re right; many young people are being seduced by Satan, the author of lies, and following him although they have grown up in a faith based home. They are seduced into thinking what is wrong is right because many leaders and our government are saying things and putting into law lies from Satan. You have come a long way in getting your education and study of the bible while in prison. Putting it into practice is the hard part especially on the outside world. Always remember when tempted 1 John 4:4, “You are of God, you little ones, and thus you have conquered the false prophets, For there is One greater IN YOU than there is in the world.” The little ones are those who have humbled themselves under the mighty hand of Almighty God, and made Him Lord of their life. Thank you again for sharing.
Dear St. Dismas Guild, I’m writing to say the Lord has kept this promise to me even if I have fallen, he is still there to pick me up. I’ve been in here over 20 years and my wife has never left me. We have a class here that has changed too much for me to stay with it. They need new leadership because they are making rules up for new members which they can do. We are to build on what Christ teaches, not to make others do what they don’t do. Well, I don’t know what to do but drop out of the class. If you have some words on this, please write back. Your brother, RQ
Any class that contradicts the teaching of scripture or any leader who does not have the credential given by the church be cautious of. Jesus told the crowds and his disciples in Matthew 23:2-3, “The scribes and the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers; therefore, do everything and observe everything they tell you. But do not follow their example.” Pray for discernment on what to do. The Holy Spirit will guide you to the truth. You are blessed to have a wife who has given her life up for you. “When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.” Proverbs 31:10-11
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Dear St. Dismas Guild, Greetings and God Bless you, your volunteers, and all those whom you serve. May the Peace of Christ be with you all! I have just received your May newsletter and it has inspired me to write to you today. I am in a prison with no Catholic services, but through the grace of God I have found the strength to bring the Catholic faith into this prison. We have been blessed by two visits from a priest, and have started a prayer group praying the rosary every morning. The first time Father was here he asked us a question – – “When did you come to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” I think, like most people in prison, my relationship with Him started when I found myself in jail with a 10-year sentence, and there is no parole here, so we have to serve at least 85% of our time, and it can be daunting, to say the least.
After meditating on that question, I’ve come to realize that as bad as prison is, I put myself here. This is the revelation that came from that and prison is an opportunity. It is a gift from God to allow those of us who have faith to have the opportunity to have that personal relationship to Christ. It is also a gift from God to save our lives. We were on a self-destructive course and God gave us the opportunity (there is that word again) to be better. So instead of complaining we should give Glory and Praise to God our Father. God Bless! Peace to you! WW
WW, I see you as a person with a grateful heart. You are blessed because you found a personal relationship with Jesus when you came to prison. Not all see it that way. Some blame God for the choices they made that got them in trouble. Time with Jesus develops that relationship where He no longer calls you servant but friend. Obedience is the key to becoming best friends with Jesus. Jesus tells us, “You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer speak of you as slaves, for a slave does not know what his master is about. Instead I call you friends, since I have made known to you all that I heard from my Father.” John 15:14-15
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God’s Blessings be with You! I thank you for all you do in the name of Jesus Christ. As we know, Our Lord is with us wherever we go and wherever we are. He is with me in my cell and comforts me. His blessings are around me and I see His wonders as I look out of my cell window and give thanks. Peace be with You. DL
DL, what a beautiful letter of thanksgiving you have written. Thank you. You’re right, we just have to look around to see God. He is all around us. We see Him in what He has created and we see Him in the person next to us who says a kind word. God, the Father is the Creator, God the Son is the Savior, and God the Holy Spirit is the sanctifier. As we turn to Him and confess our sins (if possible to a priest in confession) the blinders come off our eyes and we are able to see what you see, DL, and experience His healing touch and comforting love and mercy. “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) Thank you so much, DL, for the check to support our ministry. Generosity is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
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Dear Sir or Madam, Thank you for all you do for the men and women in prison, the beloved of the most high God. I read your newsletter each time before passing it on to our men and women. Today, though, I had to comment about DC. He has a misconception about salvation. Paragraph 169 of the catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Salvation comes from God alone”. DC may have received his salvation that night, but he “got saved” about 2,000 years ago by the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. We become a child of God in our Baptism or when we accept Jesus as our Lord and savior but out salvation was won for us by Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. We accept it but it was won for us by our Lord. Blessings, TE Chaplain
Thank you so much Chaplain for your letter. Salvation does come from God alone as 2 Corinthians 5:15 tells us “He died for all so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who for their sakes died and was raised up.” What a gift it is when we finally believe and accept what Jesus has done for us. Some have dramatic experiences when they accept the message of the cross and some just believe it without the big experience but all that do accept it as you said become children of God and listen and obey the Word of God.
This Year of Mercy. Pope Francis, seeing the great need for mercy and healing in the world, called for the Year of Mercy—a special period, also known as a Holy Year or Jubilee Year, for the Catholic Church. It is a time to focus on forgiveness and healing in a special way.
In the book titled “Beautiful Mercy”, Matthew Kelly writes…“Before I became a father, I thought I knew something about the love of God the Father has for me. Then my son Walter was born…I found myself constantly yearning to be with him. He couldn’t walk or talk. All he did was eat and sleep, and need his diaper changed. But I loved being with him. Over the years, that hasn’t changed. As my wife and I have had more children, I yearn to be with each of them in the same way. I love my children so much it’s crazy, really. …as I began to think about this great love I have for my children, the love of God took on a whole new meaning. Because if I can love my children as much as I do, and I am broken and wounded and flawed and limited, imagine how much God loves us.
The same goes for God’s mercy. …Invite the mercy of God to transform your life because in the end it is all about God’s mercy.
Sometimes the best way to think about life is to reflect upon death. When I think about my life and how I have offended God, all the opportunities I have had to love that I have turned my back on, how little I have done with the gifts He has given me, I hope He is merciful. When I reflect upon all my faults and failings, my mistakes and sins, my pride and arrogance, I hope He is merciful. I believe He is.”
“Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)
As I reflect on this “Year of Mercy”, declared by Pope Francis, I too am reminded of my participation in 3 abortions and I thank God for His Mercy. I am comforted by the pope’s words because it is true that I felt pressured to go through with the procedure because being pregnant was not convenient to my plans.
“…I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. …The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart…” ~ Pope Francis’ Jubilee Letter
I believed the lie that it was my choice and that since it was legal it must be okay. I was not Catholic at the time nor was I allowing God in my life, but I was seeking and thanks be to God and Mother Mary, she lead me to her son Jesus as I sought help for my depression and all the dysfunctional traits in my life.
And like the woman in the reading below with her long hair, her many tears and her sinful lifestyle, I too turned to Him for forgiveness and a new beginning to my life. I met a Catholic man who brought me to the church and the sacraments and told me I could be forgiven IF I was truly sorry and wanted to grow in my relationship with the Lord. I was baptized and received into the church more than 26 years ago now. All my sins were wiped away and I began a new life in Love with our Lord and His Mother, Mary.
44 “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. … 47 I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:44-48
Memorize one of the following scriptures and apply it to your life daily.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.” Psalm 51:1-2
In Jesus’ love,
St. Dismas Staff