Pope Francis Proclaims an Extraordinary Year of Mercy

Prodigal Son-Tissot

Today, on Tuesday, December 8, 2015, which is also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis opens the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

In proclaiming this special year long focus on the gospel theme of mercy, he is calling the Catholic community, and the global community, to reflect on the reality of God’s mercy. He calls us as followers of Jesus to accept this mercy for ourselves, and to share it with our fellow sojourners on earth.

For Dismas Ministry, this is a special challenge to work with even more dedication to fulfill the words of Jesus, “when I was in prison you visited me”. This means providing support to our sisters and brothers in prison. It also is a call to work closely with our fellow Catholics to bring the message of God’s all-embracing mercy to the dark and often hopeless life behind bars.

As a powerful symbol, Pope Francis opens wide the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica: “No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one. Its doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness. The greater the sin, so much the greater must be the love that the Church expresses toward those who convert.”

He asks all of us as members of Christ’s body to

“rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”

“The call of Jesus pushes each of us never to stop at the surface of things, especially when we are dealing with a person. We are called to look beyond, to focus on the heart to see how much generosity everyone is capable…We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

This Holy Year begins today on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 2015) and ends November 20, 2016, on the Sunday dedicated to Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. He is the living face of the God’s never ending mercy.

The Pope and the Penitentiary

Pope Bolivia Prison Visit

Here are our favorite quotes from Pope Francis’ visit to the Santa Cruz-Palmasola penitentiary on Saturday, July 11th:

The man standing before you is a man who has experienced forgiveness.

We can lose this dignity in so many ways. But Jesus is stubborn: he gave his very life to restore the identity we had lost.

This means putting aside a mentality which sees people as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but instead tries to focus on helping others. This will help to create better conditions for everyone. It will give dignity, provide motivation, and make us all better people.

We take these statements by Pope Francis to heart as we reflect prepare for the Year of Mercy – 2016. Read the full message by Pope Francis on his visit here>

“My Last Day”

We came across this beautiful Animé version of Jesus’ death and resurrection seen through the eyes of Dismas and want to share it with you.

This story unfolds through the eyes of a criminal who receives the same brutal crucifixion sentence as Christ. “My Last Day” is a short film of regret, repentance and redemption. Animé created by The JESUS Film Project, with Barry Cook and Studio 4C (株式会社スタジオよんどしい Kabushiki-Gaisha Sutajio Yondo Shii).  They created Animatrix, Tekkon Kinkreet and Gotham Knight.

Hopefully this will be the first of many short stories of Jesus’ life. Thank you all for the years of prayer.

ENJOY AND PLEASE REPOST! WE WANT THIS TO GO GLOBALLY VIRAL.  The video may easily be downloaded here:  http://www.globalshortfilmnetwork.com… <http://www.globalshortfilmnetwork.com/my-last-day-p-344-c-8.html>


Ron’s Reflection: Angels

I was struck by the description of the angel who rolled the stone back from the entrance to Christ’s tomb and then sat on it, announcing the resurrection: “He is not here.”

I confess, I don’t usually think of angels a lot, not since I was a youngster in Catholic grade school when Sister told us that our guardian angel was beside us. But this account suddenly intrigued me.  I thought of this particular angel’s unique role in our salvation story. Who and how did this creature of light get this “job”? Was there a lottery in heaven among all the angels? I am kidding, of course. Amidst the many words of the gospel accounts, this messenger who is a pure spirit humbly obedient to God’s will, goes pretty much unnoticed as the Easter story quickly unfolds. This angel is like a still point in all the excitement of the disciples’ discovery of the empty tomb, and the running to and from the tomb that morning, as the women delivered the news to the apostles and then Peter and John came “in haste” to see for themselves. In the midst of it all, this un assuming angel sits on the stone, and simply states the amazing words “He has risen.”

Unlike the angels Gabriel, Raphael and Michael, we do not even know the name of this herald of the resurrection. What an example for us of self-effacing, obedient service to God, of humility in deference to Christ and a beacon of light on behalf of the gospel that God devised in order to save humanity who was made “less than the angels” as scripture says.

Like a model of ministry, everything points to Jesus not to self-service. This pure spirit is like a hollow flute through which the breath of God’s Spirit creates such beautiful, joyful music for the ears of a broken, lost humanity. We should have the grace to be so hollow and selfless so that God can make music through us! This puts me in mind of all the wonderful ministers of the gospel that Dismas Ministry is honored and graced to work with in our network of over 800 sisters, priests, deacons and lay people. They are working quietly and selflessly to bring the good news to the members of Christ’s body in prison. Please join me, the staff, and volunteers of Dismas Ministry in praying for them and offering thanks to God for them. They are angels of hope to the broken and lost.


Ron Zeilinger, Director

A Reflection on St. Dismas Day

Dismas Story

Artwork in image is Jacques Tissot’s (French, 1836-1902) “Pardon of the Good Thief”


A Gospel Within a Gospel

On this St. Dismas Day – March 25 – special blessings to all inmates, families, staff, volunteers, our board members, donors and prayer union – everyone involved in prison life and ministry one way or the other. Read & reflect on Luke 23: 39-43, the story of our patron the good thief.

The story of Dismas has been called a “gospel within a gospel” because it condenses the ministry of Jesus into just a few hours. Dismas the good thief represents the converted rebel in all of us as he changes from reviling to revering Jesus. His example encourages us to abandon our own misery and slavery to sin for the mercy and freedom of Christ, no matter what we have done or failed to do.

Jesus the eternal judge nailed to the cross presides over all of humanity. By his death he sees to it that “…this world’s prince is driven out” (John 12:31). He silences the hellish argument that our sins are unforgivable, that there is no hope, no turning back for the likes of us. The voice of Satan the prosecutor is silenced by the verdict of Jesus as he admits a scoundrel into the kingdom at the very last minute.

The account of Dismas also reminds us of the parable in which the laborer came at the end of the day and still earned the same wage as those who entered the field early in the morning. This story of God’s freedom to act as He wills gives all of us hope.

– Ron Zeilinger, Dismas Ministry Director