“The Fourth Glorious Mystery: The Assumption. The fruit of the mystery is Grace of a Happy Death. Pater Noster, qui es in caelis…” My sandaled feet crunched brown tree needles and leaves as I walked towards my apartment. I moved my red cord Rosary through my fingers, the silent prayers pouring from my heart.
“Ad te clamamu—“ My voice broke off, strains of the Salve Regina lingering in the hushed air. Tears streaked down my cheeks and my red dress shuddered as I gasped for breaths. My left hand clutched the gold crucifix that stood before me, and I glanced at the clock. Ten minutes past three o’clock in the afternoon.
God conquers all. Persevere.
Kneeling a little straighter on the burgundy carpet, my shaky voice began. “Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Evae…”
I wanted to finish the Rosary in triumph, in hope, in courage, knowing that God conquers death. It was the afternoon of September 30, 2015, and to my knowledge, Richard Glossip’s execution was still scheduled. Weeks earlier, from diocesan newspaper, I learned that Richard Glossip, a fellow Oklahoman, had been on death row for several years.
I didn’t know Richard Glossip then.I don’t know him now.
I don’t fully know if he is innocent or guilty.
I don’t know anyone who does know him.
I don’t have any kind of connection to him, except that we are brother and sister in God’s family.
Yet, this connection is worth something.
The execution would not put to death a statistic or an empty name, but a living, breathing man; a man who was made in the image and likeness of God. Maybe I felt a close connection with Richard because I now live in Oklahoma. Maybe I felt that connection because I had been praying for him. I really don’t know why, but I did know that I could not remain indifferent to his situation.
All afternoon, I had kept checking back at Sr. Helen Prejean’s website. Please, God, let there be a good update. Minutes ticked by, I kept refreshing the page, but there was nothing positive, no hope of another stay of execution. I boiled water on the stovetop to make a cup of English Breakfast tea. As I reached for the sugar, I stopped.
Ugh, really, God? Fine. This one’s for Richard.
Drinking my plain tea, I continued to work on blogging, article writing, and catching up on other current events, routinely checking Sr. Helen Prejean’s website. Minutes before the execution was scheduled, the website posted the update that the Supreme Court had denied Richard a stay of execution. Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was about 20 minutes until 3. I pushed back my laptop, grabbed my Rosary, and paced outside.
“In Nomine Patris, et Filli, et Spiritu Sancti, Amen.” Crossing myself, I sprung to my feet and ran to my laptop. Did the execution really happen? My fingers flying across my laptop, I bit my lip, waiting to be faced with the truth.
A 37 day stay of execution.
My heart flooded with joy as I spread the news over social media. He’s alive! He’s alive! Granted, the execution was still scheduled—for November 6. Still, I knew that God has conquered death. He is always granting comfort and consolation to the sorrowful. There is no need to fear.
At approximately 2:55 p.m. on Thursday, October 1, I relaxed on my couch. Brownie crumbs were scattered across my skirt, my mug of coffee stood next to me, and my eyes took in St. Therese’s poetry (because what better way is there to celebrate her feast than to eat delicious food and read her poetry?). I knew that I needed to work on an article for my editor, so I told myself that I would not hop on Facebook. Somehow, though, I found myself jumping onto Facebook, where I saw it:
A post by Sister Helen Prejean, which had reached the internet just a few minutes earlier:
My eyes welled up with tears. What a gift on the feast of St. Therese!
St. Therese, who prayed from the Carmel for the conversion of a man on death row.
St. Therese, who promised to send a shower of roses upon Earth once she died.
St. Therese, the ever-giving, ever-loving young woman from France.
God conquers all, and the His mercy is without bounds. Blessed be God, now and forever!
Please Note: I know that the death penalty is a hot-button issue, and there are a lot of aspects that go into this sensitive topic. I ask that you please be loving and merciful in any responses to this post. My post today is not intended to be a write-up of the Church's teachings on the death penalty (one of those is coming soon), but rather a reflection on the power of prayer, the mercy of God, and how I personally have been affected by this issue. Thank you for your consideration!