As we journey towards Christmas, the Advent season invites us reflect on the hope we have that Christ has come and Christ will come again to free us.
Yet, throughout this blessed time, 2.2 million people will be locked in cages behind prison/jail walls, separated from family and community. This does little to help the victims of their crime who will be imprisoned by trauma and the effects of the harm done to them. The families of victims and offenders alike will suffer also.
Further, countless others will be imprisoned as they experience a sense of being trapped by addiction, poverty, fear, anxiety, grief, depression, illness, or materialism.
Perhaps we can all identify with one or more ways we find ourselves feeling trapped, confined or otherwise “incarcerated” by our circumstances. Perhaps this awareness can lead us all to a deeper realization we are in this Advent search for hope together.
How do we find Christ in the midst of our own feelings of being “incarcerated?”
Often it is through our stories and the stories of others that we discover God in this midst of our own feelings of being trapped. As Augustine models in his Confessions, faith-sharing within a community of faith is a key way to discover the presence of the God who has come, is here, and will come again. It is an important part of the Augustinian way of life and our journey to God.
It is therefore the core of the Augustinian Adeodatus Prison ministry, where people who have faced incarceration in one way or another (whether in a prison or with a substance or another difficult life circumstance) come together on a weekly basis to share their stories and encourage one another in their own search for God.
Below you will find a curated selection of posts originally published in the Voices from the Edge Newsletter (a publication of the Adeodatus Prison Ministry under the auspices of the Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor). Within each post you will discover a gem of wisdom from which we can all be invited to a deeper reflection on how God has arrived to free us from our own sense of feeling “incarcerated.”
May this wisdom help us all prepare for the Christmas joy that awaits us at the end of our Advent journey.