||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
Angels Don’t Lie
By: Dale Recinella
It’s a day of regular rounds in solitary confinement.
The head Chaplain has provided me with a prison trip-tik, a list of the men who have asked to see a Catholic. On a three-story wing of one hundred men, there may be only one who has requested to see me. But once I’m on the wing, almost everybody is “standing on the door” requesting a visit. Standing on the door means face squashed against the window, yelling or pounding, trying to out-decibel all the other men standing on their doors. The noise can be staggering.
Most are yelling, “Hey, Chap!” or “Over here, Chap!” Some voices are shrieks. Some men just keep throwing their whole body weight against the solid steel doors, like a battering ram. The metallic booms and screams echo through the atrium of the wing. This is disciplinary confinement. Human agony in surround sound.
As I circle the second floor catwalk of the wing, a voice yells from my left. “Hey, I have a religious question for you.”
I’ve learned the local vernacular. The voice is from a child of God about to take his best shot at revealing the fatal gross errors of Catholicism. I don’t take it personally anymore. It’s pretty boring in those cells. I’m the catch of the day.
“You get one question of 25 words or less,” I laugh as I turn to the partial face in the miniscule window. “Or two questions of less than 10 words each.”
The stranger in the cell knows I’m on to him. He bites back a smirk and musters a straight face. “Are you one of them Mary worshippers?”
“Nope,” I shrug. “That was seven words, so you get one more question.”
“Is that all you’re going to say?” he blurts out in disgust.
“Yup,” I wave good-bye and turn to leave.
“Wait a minute! Gimme a necklace!”
“You know I don’t have necklaces,” I wave him off over my shoulder.
“C’mon, man. The colored beads.”
“Do you mean the prayer beads that we call Rosaries?” I pause and turn back toward his cell.
“Yeah. Gimme one of them.”
The hook is baited. It’s time to let out the line. I stroll back toward his door without haste. “You know I can’t give you those unless you promise to use them as prayer beads.”
“Sure. No problem.”
“You know that they are contraband if you wear them.” I summarize the rule that prohibits any colored paraphernalia that could be used for gang insignia. “You can only use them to pray.”
“Sure. Just to pray.”
I’m at his door. “What are you going to pray on them?”
“We Catholics pray Bible verses,” I suggest as I shove the Rosary through the crack by the wall and into his fingers. “You could pray verses of things that angels have said in the Bible.”
“Yeah,” he nods in mock relief, “Angels don’t lie.”
“Then do this,” I continue as he holds up the beads to the window. “Say the Lord’s Prayer on the little white beads and say a Bible verse on each yellow bead.”
“What? Man, how many is that?”
“Fifty. But most of us have picked one verse. We just keep praying it over and over. You could do that. It’s easier.”
“Yeah. Sounds good. What do you use?”
“We use the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, verse 28,” I answer, opening my Bible and reading it to him. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”
His mouth drops open in astonishment. The hook is set.
“Angels don’t lie,” I wink. “And it’s in the Bible.”
First published: The Florida Catholic, May 11, 2000
© 2000 Dale S. Recinella & The Florida Catholic.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
I Was In Prison
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Dale S. Recinella
, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella
, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed