Earlier this year, I handled a case for a 17 year old boy who had been involved in an automobile accident. The accident was not his fault, but the police officer found a reason to give him two traffic tickets. The boy’s mother called my office and scheduled an appointment.
Prior to the accident, her son had been placed on probation in another case. The mother knew that if he was found guilty of one (or both) of the traffic tickets, his probation would be revoked and he would have to return to court to be resentenced.
I met with the boy and his mother. He was a typical teenager, in the sense that he seemed to be more concerned about checking his cell phone messages than the seriousness of the situation he was in. During our meeting, I learned that both of the boy’s parents immigrated to the United States several years ago. Although the boy spoke flawless English, his mother spoke with a heavy Asian accent.
During the course of our meeting, the boy’s mother seemed very apprehensive. My impression was that she was suspicious of our legal system, which included the police officers, lawyers, and judges.
Fortunately for the boy, there were two witnesses to the accident who backed up his version of the events. When it came time for trial, I was able to convince the prosecuting attorney to dismiss both charges, a result that is highly unusual. Ordinarily, when tickets are issued, the prosecuting attorney is not willing to second-guess the police officer who issued the tickets, so the prosecutor usually proceeds with a trial regardless of what the witnesses say about the incident.
After the tickets were dismissed, I walked out of the courtroom with the boy, his mother, and the two witnesses. Since the mother didn’t fully understand what had taken place, I explained to her the procedural aspects of the dismissal and answered all of her questions.
After I was finished explaining everything to the mother, I looked at the boy and said:
Now you’re still on probation in that other case, so you need to be very careful about who you hang out with. You saw what happened in this case. You saw how the police officer refused to give you the benefit of the doubt and gave you the two tickets even though you didn’t do anything wrong. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be trying to tell you how to run your life, but you seem like a decent guy who wants to do what’s right. You have a bright future ahead of you, but you need to be careful.
When I was in college, there were two different occasions when I was out with some friends and one of them started acting up. On both occasions, I found myself in an environment where I could have gotten into trouble with the law. All it takes is for one guy to start trouble, and if you’re with him (or his group), you can easily get blamed for something you didn’t do. You saw how the police officer treated you in this case. He wasn’t willing to listen to anything you said. You need to be very careful who you hang around with. Do you understand what I’m saying?
As I was cautioning the boy to be careful about who he hung out with, his mom’s demeanor completely changed.
She came to the full realization that I was on her side, and said, “Thank you Mr. Williams! Thank you so much for saying that to my son. I’ve tried to tell him that I don’t like some of his friends, but he doesn’t listen to me. Thank you so much for telling him that.”
She kept repeating, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” It was as though a huge burden had been lifted off of her shoulders. She became animated and treated me as though I was a long lost friend who had come to see her. She move toward me like she was going to give me a hug, but she stopped herself. I think the cultural norms she grew up with in the country she came from prohibited her from showing that type of affection toward a man.
It wasn’t until I showed a genuine interest in the welfare of her son that she really trusted me. As soon as I reaffirmed what she had been telling her son, she no longer viewed me as being an extension of the legal system that had mistreated her son. I was on her side and she showed appreciation to me for caring enough to counsel her son.
One of the greatest gratifications a mother can experience is when someone helps her vulnerable son. One of the greatest pains a mother can experience is when someone hurts her vulnerable son.
Do you think the mother of Jesus appreciated what Simon of Cyrene did when he helped her Son carry His cross? Do you think the mother of Jesus appreciated it when Veronica wiped the bloody face of her Son while He was carrying His cross? Do you think the mother of Jesus had a special place in her heart for Simon and Veronica after seeing what they had done for her Son?
What is it that most people pray for? Most people pray for things they want or need (prayers of petition). Some people say prayers of thanksgiving. But there are other types of prayers that very few people say or know about – prayers of reparation.
The word “reparation” is ordinarily defined as “the payment of damages” or “the act of making amends, offering expiation (atonement), or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury.”
Can I share a secret with you? If you develop a ritual of offering up prayers of reparation – prayers that make amends for the sins of others – your name will be forever engraved in the heart of the Mother of God. Not only did her Son suffer and die for the sins of humanity, but He continues to suffer because of our sins. We have the ability (and obligation) to make amends and offer expiation for the sins of others. By doing so, we perform the same service to the Son of God that Simon of Cyrene and Veronica performed.
On January 1, 2011, the feast day of Mary the Mother of God, the new St. Philomena Adoration Chapel will open (after the 9:00 a.m. Mass). In anticipation of the new opening, you are invited to stop by to see the new chapel, pick up a key card, and if you’re willing to make the commitment to God, sign up for a weekly holy hour. The dates and times you can stop by are: Sunday, December 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Tuesday, December 28, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Wednesday, December 29, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Thursday, December 30, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. If you have any questions about the new chapel or key card pickup, you can call 309-682-8642, ext. 213, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my greatest fears for the future is that because of the rampant and widespread sin and evil that is taking place around the world, it is only a matter of time before the heavy hand of God’s justice comes crashing down on all of us. As Catholics, we have the power to delay, minimize, or even stop the punishment that is certain to come our way. This can be done by offering up prayers of reparation to our Lord.
Would you be willing to sign up for a weekly holy hour in the new Adoration Chapel? You can divide your hour in the chapel between prayers of petition, thanksgiving, and reparation.
You have the guarantee of several of the saints (one of which is St. Louis De Montfort) that if you regularly offer up prayers of reparation, your name will be forever engraved in the heart of the Mother of God and she will see to it that you will have the grace to enter into her Son’s Kingdom. Are you willing to commit an hour of your time each week to our Lord?
Happy (and HOLY) New Year!