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Dei Verbum Non Alligatum; The Word of God Shall not be Chained

Justin Haggerty | The Daily Knight

(photo credit: Telegraph)

In a recent letter from my wife, she sent me a quote that was left under one of my latest posts:

"As Saint Paul the Apostle was chained in the house of Saint Luke under house arrest for two years, he carved into the pillar he was chained to; Dei verbum non alligatum, the word of God shall not be chained."

It is through our suffering for the Lord that God often comes to us. The conditions of my COVID-19 quarantine in federal prison has been abysmal. We are locked in our cells and only let out to shower for 15 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I have not felt the sun since June 15th. The inmate next to my cell has been here for 30 days, which is well over double the CDC guidelines for quarantining people with coronavirus. Truth be told, none of us are sick or have had a positive test. We were given only one pair of clothing and a small hygiene kit, of which we quickly exhausted in one week of showers, etc. Access to the facility commissary has not be granted, and I had to obtain a pen, paper, envelope from another inmate; the guards won't help.

Stuck inside the belly of a medium security prison, even though I'm assigned to the medium security camp, the central area between the cells looks like a place out of the movie 'In The Name of My Father', where innocent Irish kids were sent to rot in English prisons. I have a small window to the outside, where I can barely see the American flag fly before a row of trees beyond the prison's razor wire fences. Through days of almost constant prayer, I'm far from perfect, I couldn't help but think of the thousands of Irish Catholics, including many of Haggerty's of whom I descend from, who were unjustly imprisoned, tortured, drawn and quartered, hung and shot for the faith. In fact, the Gaelic meaning behind our name is to be 'unjustly treated.'

Through my prayers, God answered. After showering one morning, I snuck down to the first floor cell block and found a book on top of a stack of magazines. The book caught my eye by the tri-color Irish flag emblazoned on the cover. Written by the renowned storyteller Leon Uris, the fictional novel, Trinity, filled with historical accounts on Irish history, follows on Irish Catholic family through the rising of the 19th century, from exactly where my family hails from in County Donegal, between Inishowen and Derry. We were O'Hegarty's then.

It is the Irish story of suffering and sacrifice, told and endured by every Catholic family. From O'Neills revolt against apostate Elizabeth I, the Jacobite wars alongside King James II, Wolfe tones and United Ireland, the various risings of the 1800's, to the Easter Rising and Micky Collin's war for Home Rule, every young Irish Catholic boy is reminded, through story and song, of his family's bloody struggle with the oppression and tyranny of Protestant heretics. God blessed me with the reminder of why I'm sitting in this cell, looking through a small window at a grassy yard surrounded by fences and razor wire. Like my ancestors, many of whom died as martyrs, who looked at similar scenes outside an English prison window, It is my duty to continue the fight for the One True Faith that can never be separated from the blood of an Irishman. Even if you bleed me dry, I'll give my last breath with a grin, along with a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be. Dei verbum non alligatum, the word of God shall not be chained.

In Christ Crucified and the Most Victorious Heart of Jesus.

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