Elaine Roulet was called to a life of religious service and became a Roman Catholic nun.  She dedicated her life to prison reform for women.  Her basic belief was that children of women in prison shouldn’t be adversely impacted by their mothers’ wrong doings.

She advocated for children born while their mothers were in prison, and that they should be able to remain with their mothers for the first 12-18 months of their lives.  The babies would be able to bond with their mothers, and the mothers would be given hope for a better life after being released from prison.  Sister Roulet also advocated for family rooms where children and mothers could be together when the children returned for visits.  The program that Sister Roulet established became a model for prisons across the country.

Sister Roulet also created Providence House as an organization that established places where battered and abused women could obtain shelter and assistance.  In 1993, Sister Roulet was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Redemption is a central tenet of almost every religion.  The phrase:  “Hate the sin, but love the sinner” is often used to describe our beliefs on redemption.  The concept of redemption is easy to espouse, but hard to practice.  Sister Roulet made redemption a practical reality.  But for many, redemption is often overwhelmed by fear, retribution, and overzealous piety.

Redemption is personalized when someone has done something wrong that is directed toward us.  It could be as trivial as malicious gossip.  It could involve bullying.  In other cases, the wrong could be directed to our careers, our families, or our character.

What happens when those who have offended us try to genuinely atone for the wrongs they have done to us or those we love?  Do we believe in redemption in those cases?  Do we have the spirit of forgiveness?  We may find redemption hard to practice.

One thing we know about redemption is that it cleanses the soul.  The nagging resentment is dissipated, and emotional ulcers are cleansed.

Redemption can be opportunistic.  We need to look for opportunities to forgive that are natural and genuine, and not forced.  The one thing we know about these opportunities are that they are there if we just look for them.  Maybe the phrase that would work for all of us is:  “Forgive the past, embrace the future.”

Just imagine if our political bodies could embrace redemption? Our political system has become toxic and our democracy is threatened when personal agendas seem more important than the national good. Just imagine how a national armistice might be initiated and followed after each election? Just imagine how each of us would feel if our national leaders would practice redemption?

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“People find meaning and redemption in the most unusual human connections.”  – Khaled Hosseini (Afghan-American novelist and physician best known for his book, The Kite Runner)

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