St. cyprian of carthage
Saint Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage and a notable early Christian writer, he is recognized as a saint in the Western and Eastern churches. In my early days of theological study it was Saint Cyprian of Carthage who inspired me to walk the pathway of ministry after a journey of struggling to love myself. Cyprian described his own conversion and baptism in the following words:
When I was still lying in darkness and gloomy night, I used to regard it as extremely difficult and demanding to do what God’s mercy was suggesting to me … I myself was held in bonds by the innumerable errors of my previous life, from which I did not believe I could possibly be delivered, so I was disposed to acquiesce in my clinging vices and to indulge my sins … But after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of my former life was washed away, and a light from above, serene and pure, was infused into my reconciled heart … a second birth restored me to a new man. Then, in a wondrous manner every doubt began to fade … I clearly understood that what had first lived within me, enslaved by the vices of the flesh, was earthly and that what, instead, the Holy Spirit had wrought within me was divine and heavenly. [from ‘Epistola ad Donatum de gratia Dei’]
Cyprian’s struggled to find his worth before the purity of Jesus, and our gospels confirmed the wonder of Jesus’ grace in the Parable of the Lost Sheep: Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. [Luke 15: 6b-7] Cyprian tried with all his power to do the duties of a good bishop, and to get rid of many wrong things which had grown upon his Church during the long peace which it had enjoyed. His life would end imprisoned and executed for his faith St. Cyprian was martyred, in the year 258. Jesus identifies strongly with the weak, the helpless, and the outcast. He considers the way we treat them to be the way we treat Him. He wants us to identify with them as well, putting ourselves in their shoes and caring for them.
People in prison are at the lowest point of their lives. Many want to change but they don't know how, and this is the time when they are most open to receiving the Gospel message. Universal Church is a supporter of Kairos Prison Ministry an interdenominational Christian ministry reaching out to incarcerated individuals, their families and those who work with them; to bring sustainable meaning and hope in the place of loneliness, isolation and despair.