To enjoy the miracle of the forgiveness of sins, the transition from spiritual death to the fullness of life in the freedom of God’s child, you have to come to Jesus and receive from Him the gift of infinite mercy, confessing all your sins in the sacrament of penance, repenting from them and resolving to improve.
The Touch of the Merciful Lord
In Africa, I had the opportunity to participate in extraordinary sharing groups. This happened in the largest prison in Kenya, where as many as 4,000 prisoners were kept, despite the fact that it was only built for 1,400 people. I visited this prison with a priest who, on our way there, said to me, “Today you will experience the touch of the merciful Lord.” After some initial difficulties in getting permission to enter, the prison director finally allowed us to meet with a group of prisoners for half an hour! However, in my heart I was strangely convinced that it was not for him to decide with whom and how long we were to talk, it is God who decides. I felt that God lovingly prepared this touch of the Lord, in response to my prayers and the prayers of my priest and of those unknown people on the other side of the prison wall. The director ordered two scary looking guards to accompany us. We visited four pavilions, different cells, where we shared a passage from the book Reflections on faith by Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer, explaining “blessed guilt” (Exultet). Encouraged by the openness and faith of those prisoners, I was impressed by their testimonies – real, honest, sometimes painful, but at the same time full of faith, trust and remorse. Most of them were husbands and fathers, just like me. Very repentant, they confessed offenses that they had committed against their families. In many cases, their punishment was disproportionately large in relation to the guilt; for example, more than one was imprisoned for the theft they had committed to pay for the wife’s hospital stay after their baby was born. Some were convicted without any guilt. In their testimonies there was trust instead of despair – they were able to entrust to God their own lives and the lives of their families, even though some had been sentenced to death or were waiting to be sentenced. Sharing with them and listening to their testimonies, I felt an extraordinary spiritual brotherhood that we are all truly loved by God, despite our misery, and that Mary, our loving Mother, is always with us.
Mutual love in a family can grow when its members live in a state of sanctifying grace
When we were in the last pavilion, the largest one in this prison, I also shared my testimony. The atmosphere of Mary’s presence and her love emboldened me to talk about a very difficult issue, which I had never confided to anyone before. It was about something that, if it were not for God’s mercy, could have led me to the place where they were. I threw off my mask of good self-esteem, let go of the shame, because in this atmosphere, in the presence of Mary’s unconditional love, I was sure that, like them, I was loved. Having shared, I realized that four and a half hours had passed since our arrival. How was it possible that the guards did not react? And then suddenly one of the guards was approaching us fast… I got scared! However, to my surprise, he shyly and humbly asked if he could also share his testimony! It is impossible to describe the humility of this guard, also the father of a family, who confessed his weakness and asked prisoners for prayer for his intention. He said, “Brothers, I am counting on your prayer. You do not have so many opportunities to sin; you are being watched. When I leave my work here, I often fall and hurt my family.” The time spent among the convicts and the moment of confession before God in the presence of brother prisoners was a special experience of “blessed guilt” and the merciful love of God. When we allow God’s unconditional love to embrace us, then all hierarchies and human considerations disappear, and we are only left with the desire to be embraced by Him, because we believe in Jesus’ statement: “The greater the misery, the greater is my right to mercy” (Diary 1182).