Not long before Christmas I spent the morning at a remarkable residence called the Ignacio House, named after St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. Shepherded by Father Zach Presutti, himself an "S.J." -- a member of the Society of Jesus, AKA the Jesuits -- the bright, clean, welcoming house in the Bronx is home to about 20 parolees.
When these men got out of prison, they really had no place to go. Often alienated from family and past friends, the temptation was to go back to the company or the gangs that led to their lock-up.
That’s where Ignacio House comes in, as these men now belong as members of this community. After Mass, in enjoyable conversations with them, I listened to what they most relished in their "halfway house." Yes, the fraternity; the opportunity for ongoing counseling and continued fidelity to their recovery programs; the duties they shared in the house; and, the opportunity for education, job training, and even a college degree.
But, enthusiastically, they all chimed in that what was most bracing for them was … the chance to start afresh, to begin again, to leave past mistakes, sins, and crimes and get on with a happy, healthy, holy life.
Such a resilience reverberates in the human heart. It’s actually the virtue of hope in action. We have a God of second chances, and, for that matter, third, fourth, and beyond chances. We are "works in progress," and our Creator, the cosmic artist, is never quite done with us.
The psalms that the people of Israel chant proclaim that the sun rising every morning is God’s invitation to start anew. The day will end in darkness but light ever triumphs.
I bring this up because it’s a New Year. If ever the exhilaration of a jump start to our most noble intentions is evident, it’s now.
A blessed New Year!