This article was written by Rita Ann Jensen, and used with permission.
My youngest daughter showed an early aptitude for “finding God in all things” (St. Ignatius Loyola). When a priest friend dropped by for dinner unannounced,
Today (Dec. 13) is the feast of two saints, Lucy and Odilia, noteworthy for their eye issues. Lucy was famously martyred by having her eyes plucked out; Odilia, born blind, was miraculously cured when Erhard of Regensburg anointed her eyes as part of her baptism when she was twelve. St. Lucy became the patron saint of those with eye problems and St. Odilia the patron of good eyesight.
I am enchanted that the feasts of both of these saints fall on my birthday because for a long time, faith has been for me a way of seeing reality. It provides the vision necessary to “find God in all things.”
In the Life Connections Program (LCP) with which I work in the federal prison in Leavenworth, we have an activity called “Word of the Day,” for which our participants are required to do a 20 minute presentation at least three times in the 18 month program. Faculty are invited to do the same, so I chose the word “sight” and three kinds of sight necessary to lead a responsible life.
LCP is a faith based pre-release program; advice giving is our modus operandi . So I recommended cultivating hindsight, insight and foresight as ways to make the most of the past, the present and the future.
As men with “pasts,” inmates are often devastated by what they’ve done, and can wallow in regret so much that they lose all energy for the present and the future. Hindsight finds a constructive use of the past by seeing it has a source of learning. While this, in and of itself, doesn’t excuse or redeem their actions, it does provide them a way through so they can move on.
Insight is the tool we practice to teach and encourage self-reflection through meditation, journaling and spiritual-guide classes. It’s the sight necessary to find God in the midst of the every day, a task difficult for most of us under ordinary circumstances and significantly more difficult in the ugly, boring routine of prison life.
With foresight we nurture their skills in goal setting and planning for a future free of alcohol, drugs and crime, and free for a life of service and ministry to others.
The past, present and future come together for us in our mission in the LCP much as they come together in the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. When my Bible belt friends that I grew up with in the deep south would ask me if I had been “saved” I would usually mumble an answer that amounted to “that remains to be seen.”
Today I would answer, “I have been saved; I am being saved; I will be saved,” because “Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.” In this season of Advent it is this last coming that is our focus, but without the ability to see Christ present in the here and now, his coming at the end of time remains “pie in the sky by and by.”
So let us join with the prayer of Bishop Erhardt of Regensburg as he anointed St. Odilia’s eyes at her baptism:
“In the name of Jesus Christ, may the eyes of your body and the eyes of your soul receive light.”