Longtime prison chaplain Father Peter Young, of the Diocese of Albany, New York, noticed that many prisoners, after being released, returned to prison in the months and years following release. To combat this high return rate among his flock, he drew upon his experience in the Navy in World War II. He had seen hundreds of planes take off from his aircraft carrier on combat missions and return to land on the same deck. The return landing was a marvel of technical skill on the part of pilots and deck crew. The pilot knew that his safe return and the lives of the men on deck depended upon his following a very precise landing pattern called a “Glidepath.” As long as he kept his plane in the glidepath at the right altitude and exact speed, he could safely touch down on the carrier deck. A single moment of distraction or deviation could lead to disaster.
Father Young applied this glidepath concept to address the high recidivism rate among released prisoners. He determined that they ended up returning to prison because they did not have a glidepath to follow that would ease their reentry to society and a healthy and fulfilling life. He established a program for released prisoners that gave them a glidepath that included a halfway house in which they could prepare to return to families and to gainful employment, while avoiding the behaviors, addictions, and persons that got them into trouble in the first place. This glidepath has led to successful recovery for many thousands of former prisoners.
Peter, James and John had an appointment with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. Because they kept that appointment, they encountered the glory of the Living God on the Mount of Transfiguration. That glory became their own glidepath. It sustained them during the challenging years of ministry and all the way to martyrdom — save one.
For me, in Lent, and throughout the year, my glidepath involves dates that I have at 7:30 AM for Morning Prayer, 11:30 for Rosary, noon for Mass, and 5:30 PM for Evening Prayer, plus daily spiritual reading and monthly Confession.
What is your glidepath this Lent for yourself and for your family? It helps to remember that there is Someone each day waiting for you to meet Him at very specific times. It’s a path that leads to a springtime in your heart and in your family.
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Copyright 2019 Fr. Willy Raymond, C.S.C.