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Jailed James wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was raised Catholic but I disagreed with the Church's doctrines. I'm 33 and haven't been to Confession since I was 14 years old. I have committed several drug crimes for which I'm going to go to jail for a year.

  • How do I become more spiritual in jail?

Thanks,

James

  { How does a lapsed Catholic who has committed several drug crimes become more spiritual in jail? }

Bob replied:

James,

Let me be perfectly honest with you: you can't become more spiritual in prison. You can't make religion or God a hobby. It will never work as a part-time project. Christianity, and more precisely, Catholicism, is an all in proposition. Jesus Christ came and died for sinners. He expects his followers to be willing to give it all (even up to death) for Him. The Christian faith is built on the blood of martyrs; those people who figured out that it was more important to stay true to The One who saved them than to please the one who was holding the knife to their throat.

  • Did you know that as many Christians are dying today as in the early centuries of the Church?

It still holds true today and Christ is looking for a few good men. Men like you, when you step up. (Sooner or later each of us needs to figure out why he is on this planet.) Christ didn't call the perfect; He called men and women, some of them misfits, perfectly unexceptional people, who He changed to become exceptional, and then perfect — which is what we all must become to enter Heaven. Their transformation changed the world despite the bad press Christians get today.

  • Don't believe me?

Read history, you'll have time for that. Yes, there are a lot of hypocrites in the Church, poor examples, but there are also quiet saints. I don't know what the people were like who raised you, maybe good Catholics, maybe not.

  • Didn't someone ever show you something worth giving it all for?

I think The One that can get you off this messed up planet, and give your soul peace, is worth it and worth everything.

You'll have time to reflect and do the math where you are going. Read the Bible, but start with the New Testament, especially the four Gospels.

  • Say the Rosary; was this your grandmother's prayer?

If so, she absolutely knew what she was doing! The Rosary has more power in it than all the drugs you could peddle; power to make you start to see what you have been missing and the way the world really is. You need a good dose of some virtues, like wisdom, courage, judgment, and fortitude. The Rosary can help you with that. Lastly, go to whatever programs, Masses, Confession opportunities and other sacramental opportunities they give you in there. Talk it out with someone.

If all this seems a little harsh, it probably is. It is not that I'm not compassionate, quite the contrary. I've seen real tragedy all through my life, especially in some third world countries. My father died at a young age and it took me a long time to figure out what it means to be a man; but I have come to learn that real men follow Jesus Christ and they don't apologize for it.

Whatever issues you have with doctrine can all be sorted out in time; but I would start with the basics:

  • Is Jesus Christ who He says He is, or not?
  • Did He build a Church on Peter, or not?
  • Do I want a relationship with Him?
  • Do you want Him to be your King and change you forever?
  • Do you want to serve Him and be happy in this life and the Next Life with Him, or not?

So my advice is this, scrap the whole idea about becoming more spiritual and make a decision about Jesus Christ.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Dear James,

You said:
I was raised Catholic but I disagreed with the Church's doctrines. I'm 33 and haven't been to Confession since I was 14 years old. I have committed several drug crimes for which I'm going to go to jail for a year.

  • How do I become more spiritual in jail?

Anyone can adhere and embrace an array of spiritualities in prison. Many of them are not good for you. The only spirituality that is good for our soul is a Catholic Christian spirituality because, if it is a spirituality that is faithful to the Church, it is a spirituality that is based on the Church Jesus founded on St. Peter.

If you truly wish to become more spiritual, that's good, but the spirituality you choose has to have a solid Christ-centered, Catholic-centered, basis. If you wish to become spiritual just to get good behavior points, in the long run it won't help you.

If you wish to get more spiritual in the best sense (the Catholic sense), I would work on re-examining those doctrines you disagree with and trying to understand why the Church teaches what She does. We can struggle to understand teachings we disagree with but we must assent to them. It seems to me you are at a stage in your faith where you should be seeking faith and open to understanding those teachings you disagree with.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the best place to start.

I would also encourage you to take up the suggestions Bob gave in his fourth paragraph:

A while back, when I was running my Free Catechism of the Catholic Church program, I tried to send one to a prison, but it was returned. Later I found out the only way to get books sent to prison is if they are sent directly from the seller or publisher, like Amazon. This may have changed; I'm not sure.

Talk to a prison chaplain or priest to see if a Prison Book Ministry exists.

We all make mistakes in life; some are big ones; some are smaller ones. The key for serious crimes is a perseverance in holiness. The evil one will try to get you back into your old, bad drug habits.

Don't let him! Either way, know that the Mercy and Love of God and Our Blessed Lord Jesus are always with you and your fellow inmates.

Attending the sacraments, reading the Scriptures, and praying the Rosary will strengthen you more and more as time passes.

Mike

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