Wednesday, December 11, 2013

God is actually quite Great: Antonia Brenner

I remember hearing, back in October, that Sister Antonia Brenner had passed away.
If you are like me, that news makes you wonder: who's Sister Antonia Brenner? 

As if turns out, she was a faithful sister in Christ with a beautiful story. After several marriages and raising children, Sister Antonia felt called to move into La Mesa penitentiary in Tijuana, Mexico. So, in 1977, she moved into a cell at La Mesa, and she ministered to the prisoners and staff there until her death this year.

When Sister Antonia died, the Los Angeles Times published a powerful obituary telling her story, which you can read here. I started to share this at the time, but I fell behind in blogging and didn't get to it.
But today I was reminded when I read Richard Beck's recent post about her life, "The Little Way of Mother Antonia." It's a quick read, but it paints a vivid picture of the kind of life this woman led. I hope everyone will check it out; it's absolutely worth your time.

Here's a snippet from Dr. Beck's post, to give you an idea and hopefully whet your appetite:
From her cell in La Mesa Mother Antonia cared for sick and dying prisoners. She brought food, medicine and dental care for the poorest of the inmates. She fought in courts for those wrongfully imprisoned. She buried the prisoners who died without family. She tirelessly spoke out against the torture and harsh treatment of inmates. And she loved and cared for the guards as much as she loved the prisoners, spending untold hours holding their hands, listening to their problems, offering advice and spiritual counsel.

No one was beyond the love and embrace of La Madre.

She had such respect that she could walk into the middle of violent prison riots and shut them down. When the men saw La Madre in their midst they threw their guns out the window.

And every night she went back to her cell to sleep in the exact same conditions of those she cared for.

Reading about this woman, in her 70s and 80s, living in a prison cell like everyone else... it sounds a bit extreme. A little nuts.

Until I remember how God came to dwell here with us, a baby sleeping in a feeding trough - whatever it took to bring healing and salvation to the world.

You can read the rest here. Take some time today and learn about this woman of faith.

More posts from the "God is actually quite Great" series:

the Rwandan martyrs
Father Damien
Annalena Tonelli
Churches that raided slave ships
Maria Skobtsova

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