Last month we were able to send out free of charge 83 Bread of Life Catholic Bible Studies and 89 bibles. The cost to us was $2,028.00 to ship these books. With your prayers and financial help we hope to send more next month. Your help is very much appreciated.
Dear St. Dismas family, I first wrote to you, back in the summer of 2012 as I was beginning a two-year sentence for meth-induced assault and robbery, and covered head-to-toe in itchy, raw, stress-induced eczema. My celly had a Catholic bible he’d gotten from St. Dismas Guild and your address was stamped inside, so I wrote to you. You sent me the Catholic Bible, study course and most of all, hope. My celly and I began reading and praying together and when I got transferred I looked up the Catholic chaplain there. There I made my first good confession in fifteen years, put on a Brown Scapular, started praying the Rosary every day and attending Mass regularly. I haven’t looked back since, except to be grateful!
I looked forward to the mailbag every late afternoon for those two years. I was always on the lookout for your newsletters. On the morning our Holy Father Pope Francis was elected – morning in California, anyway — I “happened” to be in the prison chapel with some of the Catholic brothers. There are no coincidences with God!! Our chaplain pulled out a television, and we were able to watch and pray with our new pontiff right there on the yard in real time. As we sat there in our polyester prison-issues, we were all overwhelmed as he asked us to pray for him! As Pope Francis traced the Sign of the Cross over the world in blessing for the first time from the balcony at St. Peter’s via that television I really, honestly felt warm grace pour through my body! At the time, I remembered to ask the Holy Spirit for my plenary indulgence for a pontiff’s first blessing! I tingled from head to toe – and I don’t really consider myself a charismatic, either. Our Lady spoils me!
When I was released I was granted my request to enter a fifteen month post-prison, residential program, honing my work skills as their office coordinator. One of my greatest blessings was being able to answer the prison mail from inmates seeking help from the program. I always tried to enclose a holy card of the Holy Face of Jesus with every letter I answered. I remembered how much I loved receiving mail when I was on the yard myself, so being able to “visit the prison” in this way was a double blessing to me! Following my graduation from this program I got a job at a local factory and moved into the local shelter to save every penny so I could return home to N.Y. as soon as I discharged my parole. That happened in time for this Christmas! I now work at a place that helps addicts, prisoners, and others in crisis. Also, I begin classes soon to finish my undergraduate studies. And most importantly, as I sit typing you this letter here at work, Jesus is just across the hall in the rehab’s chapel in the Blessed Sacrament! God is so good!
Jesus and Mary have brought me all the way from that stinky cell in reception nearly four years ago, where I first wrote to you and Deacon Ken. You both have a very special place in my heart for the part you have played in my journey back home to the Church. In fact, we still play a part in each other’s lives, because I regularly pray for you – and I ask Deacon Ken often for his prayers, too! I didn’t get a chance to meet him in this life, but something tells me that he knows who I am already. Again, please know that I pray for you and everyone at the Guild often! Love in Jesus and Mary, CM
CM, thank you for such a powerful letter. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” It is your response to the bible, bible study and catechism that has put that hope in you. Praying with your celly and sharing what the Holy Spirit teaches you will increase your faith. “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) You were truly blessed to be able to watch the Pope on the TV and be blessed by him. You have a heart for prisoners because you know what they are going through. Stress causes a tremendous amount of physical sicknesses like you said you had stress-induced eczema. That must have been awful. Praise God you are doing so well now. God’s Word and coming to know Jesus personally through the Word reduces a tremendous amount of stress. The Holy Spirit is leading and guiding you keep up the responding. Thank you for your prayers and I know Deacon Ken is interceding for all of us.
DOING TIME WITH JESUS
To Whom it May Concern, Hello, my name is KH, I’m 23 years old and I’m studying to become Catholic. I was raised in an anti-church family, and though it is very cliché, I didn’t find God until I was in the county jail. Overtime I lost my faith, but tried to restore it after coming to prison. I went to chapel as much as I could and spread the name Jesus to those who would listen, but I never really loved God like I should. I was never really happy with my choice of faith.
Once again the faith I had in Our Lord and Savior faded away and I almost chose the mythical gods the Vikings worshiped instead of Jesus. This may sound weird, but one day I was watching a movie dealing with demonic possession and the Catholic Church and something kept saying, “Get on the call-out list for Tuesday Mass” (which is when our chapel does mass.) I kept hearing this over and over again. I don’t know if it was my interest in demonology or exorcisms or if it was the Holy Spirit talking to me at a time when I just so happened to be watching a film about the church, but I listened. I started going to Mass and reading about Catholicism and I must say that I love it. The history and scriptural background of this religion astonish me. This is why I want to convert from non-denominational to Catholic.
The reason I write to you is not only to share my story but also because I was told you could provide learning tools that are essential to the Faith. I have a study Catholic Bible, a Rosary and a prayer book, but I would love to have a Catechism. If you could provide me with a copy as well as put me on the newsletter list, I would be tremendously grateful. I’d hate to ask for more, but I was also hoping that you could provide me with someone to write to because there aren’t many Catholics on this prison compound. It would be nice to have someone to write about my concerns and who can answer questions. I hope that’s not too much to ask. Thank you for your time and God bless. With love, KH
We sent your letter to one of our mentors and sent you a catechism. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people perish for want of knowledge!” Most people do not know the history or what the church teaches and, like you, once they find out what it is all about they are blessed and find a tremendous peace in finding their roots. Satan is a liar and draws people away from the truth. When you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and you get the knowledge of your faith you find the peace that passes all understanding. In speaking about Satan, Jesus says in John 8:44, “When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” Then Jesus goes on to say, “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me.”
Dear St. Dismas Guild, Hello and God bless you. I have been receiving your newsletter for some time now and every month I still look forward to its encouraging messages. Reading about the strength that others received from the Lord strengthens me as well. I ask that you please pray for me and my family. I haven’t heard from them in a while and just ask that you pray that they are well and that they come to Christ. I would also like to please be assigned a mentor, someone I can talk to about my struggles and goals, any questions, and can hold me accountable for my actions. Thank you for everything. I enjoy your newsletter and greatly look forward to continuing to receive them. Your brother in Christ. FMcM
We are praying for you and all the inmates and their families. Prayer is what will change things. 1 Thess. 5:17-18 says, “Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Thank God for what He is going to do in your family. He says ask and you will receive and He wills none to be lost. Believe Him and stand on His promises. God bless you.
- DISMAS GUILD’S MISSION IS TO HELP PEOPLE KNOW GOD OUR FATHER THROUGH HIS SON JESUS BY THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CONTAINED IN GOD’S WORD, HOLY SCRIPTURE. IT’S MISSION IS PRIMARILY TO MINISTER TO PRISONS, FAMILIES, AND PROLIFE ADVOCACY.
PRAYING AS A FAMILY In this hectic world, I often find myself rushed to get everything done. As a wife, mother of a three year old, caregiver for elderly parents and working woman, I am always trying to stay one step ahead. One step ahead of laundry, meals, doctor appointments, and play dates just to name a few. God has blessed me in so many ways, yet I sometimes forget to give thanks and pray as a family. At the beginning of each meal we give thanks. When we are together, sometimes we forget and Grandpa has already finished his soup or our three year old has a mouthful, but we stop and say grace together. Whether in a restaurant or at home, this is an easy way for us to pray as a family and to witness to our love for Christ. Often, during grace, someone at the table asks us to pray for something or someone. Just the other day, my daughter asked us to pray for a neighbor boy that got hurt in an accident. This opened up a wonderful dialog about accidents and why they happen. A topic that may not have come about…except through the Holy Spirit. When we can’t be together, each of us prays before our meal knowing that the other family members are giving thanks at the same time.
“Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 18:19)
“Then Jesus stood up and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Now Go and sin no more.” ~ John 8: 10-11
This year, Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee year, and is calling it, “The Year of Mercy.” It focuses on offering special indulgences to those who seek its graces. There are many groups of people that he wishes to address and one of these groups is to the men and women who have participated in the act of abortion.
The pope wants to extend forgiveness and absolution to those who are truly sorry. There are many who now realize what they had done was wrong, but don’t know what to do with this guilt and shame.
So, if you haven’t already, please prayerful consider taking advantage of this beautiful grace and turn to the Lord in the Sacrament of Confession. Ask for absolution of this sin of abortion and be free of the burdens it brings.
Below is a section of Pope Francis’ Jubilee Letter concerning Abortion and Year of Mercy. May it bring you peace and consolation that can free your soul.
“…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. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. 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 in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father.
For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfill this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.” – Pope Francis, Sept. 1, 2015
Help for post-abortive women and men can be found at; http://www.rachelsvineyard.org
In Jesus’ love,
St. Dismas Staff