Here is a quick look into the day-to-day crosses that a prison inmate carries:
The average size of a prison cell is about 30 square meters (about the size of a condo studio unit) Each cell usually houses about 50 people, sharing 1 bathroom. Beds are arranged in double decked and in some cases situated inside the bathrooms.
All meals are single pitched, either sautéed vegetables or fried fish at best. Rice is of the lowest quality and the utensils of the worst kind. Plastic plates and unmatched silverware and thick-lipped glasses are what are normal in jail situations.
Some jail cells have it better than others. But during the Christmas Outreach in Taguig City Jail (TCJ) last December, one inmate was thankful for our mass and activity at the quadrangle as she said she has not been outside her cell since 6 months prior to our coming.
In TCJ, due to the absence of a chapel, masses are only held once a month. And attendance is also by chance as only about 20% of the population can be accommodated to hear mass at the quadrangle.
THE ICING ON THE CAKE
All these crosses though weigh much less than the cross of judgment. Living with guilt and the feeling of being judged is perhaps the heaviest cross anyone can bear. Ours is a harsh society —quick to judge and convenient to neglect. Some inmates experience abandonment even from their own family members. There are inmates who do not have “dalaw” from years on end.
This Lenten season is a reminder of the aftermath of judgment. The result of judgment is the cross itself. Jesus reminds us not to condemn but to forgive so we too may make our own crosses lighter for ourselves.
Should you wish to donate or participate in any of the Prison Ministry affairs please get in touch with RJ Limpo () or Teng Jorolan ().