Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Monk's Love Knows No Bounds

I was doing some online searches for something on St. Thérèse and a prisoner she prayed for before he was executed when I stumbled upon an article called, The Monk and the Murderer.  The story I was looking for was briefly noted in the article, which is why it came up.  This was written in 2007 and some of you may recall it.  I don't remember it at all, so it is brand new for me and perhaps for many of you.

It's a true story of how one of the monks of Clear Creek Monastery, worked to get a condemned murderer to reconcile with God before his execution in 2005.  He worked at it for several years.  It was gripping and spiritually thought-provoking.

It reminds us that vengeance belongs not to us, but to God, no matter how heinous the crime someone commits. I'm not talking about consequences here on earth, but sometimes I see Christians saying they hope someone rots in hell.  Such an attitude is not in harmony with Scripture.

We can, and should, have righteous indignation when we hear of a murder, but we should also thirst for the offending soul the way Jesus thirsts for all sinners (John 19:28).  When it is most difficult is when the mercy we seek by our prayers for conversion, is most precious to God.  St. Maria Goretti not only forgave her murderer before she died, she won Allessandro Serenelli's soul for God (see how).  Even her mother would later embrace the murderer of her child because she had no cause not to forgive him when both her daughter, and the Church, had forgiven him.  The world cannot comprehend Christians who pray for the conversion of criminals who commit sins that cry out to heaven.  We should be motivated by the fact that all of heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7).

Something else to ponder as you read the story is the monk's prudence in not overloading the soul he is trying to win. He gains nothing by laying it all on the table at once and risks having the condemned man telling him to leave and never come back.  There is a balance that must be struck when wanting to win souls over, whether it is a criminal, someone online, a friend, or a family member.  St. Augustine's mother spent decades praying for the conversion of her son. Our patience should mirror God's patience when dealing with others whose faith is weak (Rom 14:1).  If you pile on too much too fast, people run the other way.  Therefore, our approach should imitate Jesus who was meek and humble of heart (Matthew 11:29). 

I'll leave you with those thoughts as you read the story.  Keep in mind also, that it is an act of mercy to pray for the conversion of souls, and for those in purgatory.  

The Monk and the Murderer, by Anne Calovich, originally published in Catholic World Report in 2007, is now found online at Catholic Culture.

I will start you out here, then follow the link to see how this story ends.

This is a story about how God leveled time and space, breaching prison bars and cloister walls, lining up the Catacombs of Rome with Death Row in McAlester, Oklahoma, through the life of a hidden monk in the 21st century.

The monk, Brother Vianney-Marie Graham of the contemplative Clear Creek Monastery in Hulbert, Oklahoma, had long been praying for inmates on Death Row because he considered them "the abandoned of the abandoned."

He had a famous precedent for his prayers. St. Therese of Lisieux had prayed for the conversion of the notorious and unrepentant killer Henri Pranzini in 1887 and was able to read in the newspaper of his last-minute grab for a crucifix as he approached the scaffold. He kissed the wounds of Jesus three times before being guillotined.

In 2001, Brother Vianney-Marie decided to ask his superior for permission to write a few inmates, "to tell them not to despair, to tell them that God's mercy is available to them no matter what their crimes."

In deciding whom to write, Brother Vianney-Marie sought out the worst cases. [continue reading Monk and Murderer]

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
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