Today in the Octave of Christmas, much of the Church commemorates the life of Frances Joseph Gaudet. Born a slave, she dedicated her life to social work and prison reform. In 1894, she began holding prayer meetings for black prisoners. In 1900 in New Orleans, she began to work with young offenders, especially young blacks arrested for a misdemeanor or vagrancy. She continued this work until her death in 1934. Her work is chronicled in her autobiography “He Leadeth Me”.
Merciful God, who raised up your servant Frances Joseph Gaudet to work for prison reform and the education of the forgotten and oppressed: Encourage us by her example and prayers to work for those denied the fullness of life, that all may experience your perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
At the last supper, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”