A GUIDED PRAYER ON THE CORPORAL ACT OF MERCY
“VISIT THOSE IN PRISON”
Preparation For Prayer
If possible I go outside, preferably in a quiet place in the countryside and enjoy my surroundings as I revel in my freedom. I can come and go as I please, and for this I thank God, as I think of those who do not have such freedom.
I pray that I gain a deeper awareness of those people in my life who do not have freedom, who are imprisoned. I pray for light that I may see what I have done for them, what I can do for them and what I have failed to do for them.
Context Of Prayer
i. “Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, of the ill-treated as yourselves, for you also are in the body (Hebrews 13:3)
ii. I may not have any contact at all with anyone who is in prison, and access to prisoners is limited, so this work of mercy may seem distant to me. I can at least remember them and their victims in my prayers.
iii. Prisons aren’t the only place where prisoners live. I reflect on who else is a prisoner around me. I think of the few asylum seekers who remain in detention centres. Is there anything I have ever done for them or could do for them? Maybe I have some time to volunteer and visit them and accompany them as they try to make sense of their stalled lives. If I do not have the time, perhaps I can donate phone cards, clothes, reading material…… the list is endless.
iv. What about the other prisoners in my life? The housebound old woman who lives on her own, too frail to venture out except once on a while. Her son and daughter are too busy to take her out or to visit regularly to keep her company, to make her feel valued. Could the prisoner in my life be my own relative, at home or in an institution, waiting for someone to remember him, to drop by and say hello? Or the young mother of a severely disabled son, who badly needs a break, even if just for a couple of hours, from the constant caring and drudgery that mark her days.
v. I continue to reflect on who the prisoners in my life are, on what I have done for them, what I failed to do for them. Is there someone I have myself turned into a prisoner by limiting their freedom in any way? I pray for forgiveness for all those instances when I failed to visit the prisoners in my life, for whenever I limited the freedom of others. I resolve to be more sensitive to the needs of the prisoners in my life.
I speak to Jesus directly, as to a friend who is sitting next to me, sharing with Him all that I have thought about and about what I felt as I was reflecting. I pause and listen.
End Of Prayer
I finish by saying slowly and prayerfully the Our Father.