16 February 2013
It's Lent and no, you can't...
No, you can't go on a 40 day fast.
If you miss more than nine meals, that's called a food strike and you go to the hole. That's solitary confinement and you're likely to have to wear that lovely suicide onesie.
No, you can't have a copy of the Bible (Good News edition, New American, The Message, New King James) and the Qu'ran and the Book of Mormon and the Upanishads.
And since you didn't return my copy of Dante's Inferno, I'm not sending you Purgatario.
No, you can't have The Purpose-Driven Life or The Shack or Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul. We are all out, just like we told you in our responses to your requests for the last six months.
These books have not magically appeared on our bookshelves for your Lenten convenience.
No, you can't keep consecrated hosts wrapped in tissue and stashed under your mattress.
But because you did that, you'll no longer be allowed to receive communion from the eucharistic minister. She won't be visiting you again either, since we discovered that you are already meeting with the Catholic chaplain, the Episcopal chaplain, and a Protestant chaplain.
No, you can't have a rosary. They're not allowed here. You can have the prayers, and you have your fingers, but those beads can make a person slip and crack their head on the cement floor, so no, no rosary here.
No, not even the one you made out of bread and toothpaste and colored with the red M&Ms.
No, I can't meet with you twice a week for an hour-long bible study. There are over one thousand people in jail right now, plus staff. Your own pastor wouldn't have that kind of time.
Besides, what makes you think I know that much about the bible that could hold your attention for two hours a week?
No, you can't give up meat on Fridays for Lent. No, even if you're Catholic.
How do you know it's meat you're eating?
What can you do for Lent?
How about fasting from gossip or bragging about your crime? How about fasting from complaining to your family that they don't write or come see you often enough?
Eat what you're given with thanks and without complaint.
See this map? Close your eyes, pick a spot, sign your name. You're responsible to pray for the people there for the next six weeks.
The pope is retiring in two weeks. Pray for him. Pray for the cardinals who will choose the next pope. Pray for the Church that we have the courage and the humility to follow Jesus in all things.
And if there's still room on your prayer list, pray for your cranky Catholic chaplain who needs to get over herself once and for all.
PS: Want to find your own spot to pray for? Go to www.ptocheia.net/globe and spin the globe!