A couple of days ago I was working in the kitchen and giving half an ear to a Catholic radio program. A guy was talking to the host about his work with prisoners. He described that lack of a consistent and organized Catholic evangelization effort towards prisoners. He talked about the various study programs his group had developed and implemented, with considerable success.
Meanwhile, I was washing dishes and nodding, thinking, "How nice!"
Then this prison ministry guy mentioned that one of his study programs is on the traditions and types of Catholic prayer. Among other things, it explained the ancient tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours.
I stopped in mid-scrub.
"Recently," said the prison ministry guy, "We just gave an incarcerated woman a four-volume breviary, which she had requested after we had taught her to pray the Liturgy of the Hours."
What an amazing thing! Not only was this woman converted (or brought back) to the faith, but Ron Zellinger (that's the name of the founder of Dismas Ministry) and his associates had given her the great gift of liturgical prayer. It hit me what an incredible gift this is especially to a prisoner--how keeping the liturgical hours could so greatly transform the daily tedium of prison life. How engaging in daily liturgical prayer would be a huge consolation to a prisoner who, I'm guessing, may not have access to weekly, let alone daily mass. And how, in their loneliness, prisoners would take solace in being connected to so many Christians throughout the world in a relationship of prayer. And connected to Jesus, who prays "with us, in us, and for us" as we pray the psalms.
Dismas Ministry provides many types of soul-saving service to prisoners and their families( Just check out their website to learn more.) I'm sure they have to think carefully about where to allocate the donations that come in.
And breviaries are not cheap. (Free mobile app breviaries are not an option, since prisons don't generally offer free wi-fi, and don't let inmates keep cell phones.)
So, Coffee&Canticles community,we have been gifted with a great opportunity to spread the good news of liturgical prayer! I've been communicating with Ron, and he has agreed to accept donations of breviaries (one or four-volume) and/or monetary donations to be set aside in a special fund to purchase breviaries for prisoners who, after completing the study course in Catholic Prayer, request one. There are several ways to participate:
1. Go to the "Donate" page at Dismas Ministry. Hit the donate button and donate whatever amount you wish. If you use Pay Pal there is an option to include a message, so write "Coffee&Canticles Breviary Fund" or words to that effect.
2. If you can afford it, and want to do something more direct and personal, go to this page at Barnes and Noble, and order the four volume breviary for $118, not forgetting to have it shipped to Dismas Ministry rather than your own address! That address is: Ron Zeilinger, Dismas Ministry, 3195 S. Superior St. , Suite 101L, Milwaukee, WI 53207 Shipping will be free since the order is over $25 for standard delivery. I chose Barnes and Noble over other online retailers because so far, this is the best price by far I could find. However, if you have other reasons for using a different retailer (such as rewards points) then feel free to use them.
3. If $118 is more than you can spare, but $26.81 is not, then buy Dismas Ministry a single-volume, Christian Prayer breviary, also a best buy with free shipping at Barnes and Noble.
4. If you have a spare breviary that you are not using--and it's in nearly new shape--you may send it directly to Dismas Ministry. If using the US Post Office, use the address below:
Dismas Ministry, PO Box 070363,
Milwaukee, WI 53207.
If instead you use UPS, use the address in #2 above.
I am really excited about partnering with this wonderful apostolate, which is active in prisons in all 50 states. Hope you are too. What a great way to finish off our lenten almsgiving, or to begin our Easter season, with a gift of gratitude to the Lord who sets us all free.
And let me know in the comment section if you are excited about this too.