Monday, May 26, 2008

So, prison

It didn't have a very promising start.

Members of Prison Fellowship attend the first service. They do prison visits and befriending and tend to be older and from the more conservative end of the church family. While we were waiting to be taken over to the chapel one of them was holding forth about the preaching that is done in many churches these days: "It's not based on the word of God. It's far too liberal." Maureen, the RC chaplaincy representative, tried to discuss this with him but he said, "You can argue with me until eternity and I won't change my view one jot." Hmm, right. And I was about to speak, suggesting a more sympathetic view of Judas. A totally unbiblically-based view.

Anyway, apart from a mildly-stuttering Doris Day the first service was fine. Oh, and apart from the fact that the singers on the recordings Alun had downloaded all sang at a slightly slower pace then the prisoners were used to so we all got a bit out of sync. But as Maureen said, "No-one understood what was said on the day of Pentecost either."

At the end Mr Critic shook my hand. I don't know if it were a sign of approval or an 'I'll pray for you, sister,' handshake but I didn't care. One of the young lads, as he left, said, 'Thanks, Miss, that was a great sermon.' Way-hay! That was far more valuable.

The second service of the morning is a RC mass. I asked if I could stay in for it and I was amazed at the silence and the respect with which the young men behaved for what was a simple spoken service. There are things I don't agree with in the RC faith but I was happy to go up at the end for a blessing. I couldn't take the host (bread) not believing that it had become the flesh of Christ but there's no such thing as too many blessings!

Then it was time for the third service and Mo and me again. I'd asked Maureen to read some Bible verses first time round; one of the prison officers asked if he could read some in the third service - that was a first! Also during the mass Maureen had some written prayers that she asked for volunteers to read. I thought this was such a good idea that we included it in the third service too. This time Doris got a serious case of the judders: ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-admiration, but by that stage nothing could bother me. I think I had a mild case of hysteria.

So all in all it was good morning although I dread to think what the chaplain will say about these women running amok and messing up his neat services as soon as his back is turned ...

Oh, yes, and Maureen asked me if I regularly led services at my own church. I laughed and said, 'No'; I didn't add what I was thinking: 'They wouldn't trust me!'


leslie said...

I don't understand why you couldn't take the bread. Is it because the RCs believe it "literally" is the body of Christ? Because we believe it to be a "symbol" of the body of Christ.

Rose said...

Liz, I'm glad you made it back safely; I was beginning to worry about you when I didn't see a post for awhile:)
I think you sell yourself short, Liz. It sounds to me as if you made a great impression on the worshippers.

Liz said...

Yes, that's it, leslie. The priest invites those who are of the faith and right with God to go up and take the host. He makes a point of asking those who don't believe in the - what's it called - transubstantiation - no, that can't be right! - to respect the RC belief and not take it.

Rose, thank you!

Dragonstar said...

Sounds as if it all went very well. Be careful not to be too good - they might want to keep you, and George would be lonely!

Further on up the road said...

You went there and did you thing.

For the inmates that will mean more than anything. Many of them will never have been shown love like that at all. I've not done prison service in AA but know people who have and also there are a high number of people who are sober worthwhile members of society now just because some body went into prison, treated them with respect and showed them love they'd never seen before.

You should be very proud of what you did.

Böbø said...

I like your subversive revisionism for Judas - it always seemed unchristian to make somebody that all bad.

As a collapsed Catholic (the next stage on from a lapsed one) I rather think you're getting too hung up on all that transubstantiation versus consubstantiation stuff, and ignoring the mid-morning nibbles. You can't have too many snacks.

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