Today, I went to the third floor of Division 8, RTU (residential treatment unit). The officer who accompanied me was sitting in a chair across the hall when I was talking one on one with the prisoners. They come out, I write down their names and booking numbers, and then I ask them how I can help them. One of the guys who came out was in a wheelchair, and he had those bottles you use in the hospital to urinate on the back of the chair. He was pretty big, in the bodybuilder way. Covered with tattoos. I wrote down his name and number and asked, “How can I help you?”
“Are you a Catholic priest?” “Yes.” “Good, I have some questions for you.” “Ok,” I answered, and he began with a series of pretty sophisticated theological questions. “He’s been thinking about this stuff for a while,” I thought. Then he asked me how he should pray. This is more or less what he said. “Father, I don’t know how I should be praying. I asked for a house and God gave me a house. But I didn’t have a happy home. You know what I mean?” I nodded yes. “I asked for a car, and he gave me a car. But then a week later, the car was totaled in an accident. I got shot and I asked God to save my life. He did, but I lost my legs. I don’t know how to pray right. Can you help me learn how to pray the right way, Father?”
Oh my goodness, what to say? Then I remembered something I’d just heard in the morning today. “Well,” I answered him, “it seems to me that you’re pretty far along in your spiritual journey. You know, we’re only here for a little while, then we hope to get to heaven, right?” “Yes father.” “So the way to get to heaven is to learn to ask what’s God’s will for you. It’s also the path to holiness. The way to get to hell is to have things your way. That’s how the devil got there. He did it his way. The way to heaven is to have things God’s way. Does that make sense to you?” “Yes, father. Thank you.”
Then he asked me some questions about Jesus and his identity, and at one point I told him that he was asking questions about Christology, and that he had a whole lifetime to learn about this kind of thing. We talked for a little while more about questions he had about the bible, the books in the bible, what’s the Catholic bible and so on. We spoke for around 10 minutes, then he said “Thank you. I don’t have any more questions for now. He rolled himself back into the tier.” It’s not every day you meet someone who’s walking on the path to sainthood, even though his legs are paralyzed. I hope he makes it.