Father Marie Jean Joseph Lataste, O.P. is known as the "Apostle of Prisons." He was a French Dominican who lived in the 19th century. As a new preacher, he was assigned to preach a retreat in a women's prison. The women were use to sermons that condemned them for their crimes and emphasized their unworthiness. But Pere Lataste's sermon spoke of God's love. (Quotes from Hope Beyond Hope, by Emmanuelle-Marie, O.P.
My dear sisters! You ask yourselves why you are so dear to me, you who the world rejects and despises? I tell you: I am a minister of God, who loves you regardless of your mistakes, with a love that is not known on earth, the love of a God who pursues you with His love, and who in the very moment I am speaking with you, is already within your hearts. p. 19.
The women were surprised. They came into the chapel with their heads down, disgraced women who were too ashamed to look a priest in the eyes. But as the good friar spoke of God's love, then one by one their heads popped up. Their expressions changed from surprise, to attentive, to hopeful, to being, oh, so very open.
Nota Bene: this is Lataste Spirituality. He tells the inmates that they are equal to nuns and monks.
For God, is not what we have been that counts, but what you are today. God remembers only the struggles that you encountered. He already forgot about the wrong that you have done, if you return to Him with a sincere and trusting heart, as did the prodigal son and as Mary Magdalene did. The heavenly Father wants to console you. If you want you can immediately consider yourselves equal to the nuns, moreover you can compete with them in love, perhaps even in sanctity.
Just as the Sisters, you can choose to freely bear your condition out of love. You who are rejected and set apart by the world can become for God as precious as the religious perhaps even more so, if you love Him more.
For God, there is no difference between you and them, if you are ready to transform your rebellion into love and your pride into humility and tenderness--if you learn how to trustingly abandon yourselves to the Father. p. 20
See how his profound compassion, and his projection of hope to these women prisoners offers redemption. They are just as good as any other person. Just as good as nuns and monks. They can be better.
Now you understand why I call the guys in my chapter my "cloistered brothers."
This is a spirituality that is understood in the context of redemption, particularly through Jesus in the death He suffered after being taken prisoner from the Garden of Gethsemane. It is a spirituality that directs preaching to those in challenging situations of despair: the poor, immigrants, persecuted, rejected, sick, and prisoners.
My "cloistered brothers" enjoy reminding me, "Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future."