Love and Purpose: Holiday Messages from All of Us

Dear Fellow Travelers,

I invite you all to email me your holiday messages of experience, strength, hope and faith. I will share them on our blog and with our friends, families, neighbors, colleagues and fellows. Please feel free to forward them to anyone in need this holiday season.

Below are a few messages to get us started. 

Wishing you all the gift of faith and the blessing of hope (a perfect holiday message we received from friends this year).

Blessings, l’שלום

Rev. Jeff Grant, J.D., M.Div.
Co-founder, Progressive Prison Ministries, Inc., Greenwich CT & Nationwide

PO Box 1, Woodbury, CT 06798 I I 203-405-6249
501(c)(3) I donations:


A Christmas Message from the Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Ciccone, Progressive Catholic Church

Tomorrow, most of the world will pause and pay homage to the Christ child. As a priest in the Old Catholic Church I recognize the power and beauty of this season, sacred event and holy time of the year.  One that has endured the test of time; a narrative that has lived on for over 2000 years. A celebration that proclaims the “good news” and offers hope and strength to countless people.

I wonder how many of us stop and think that we are celebrating someone, Jesus, who was a convicted criminal and one who was sentenced to death.  That “passion” story that we read during Easter doesn’t really talk about the failure of the justice system or even society when they make a mistake.   When they fail to see the good in people or the possibility of radical change and love. The story, like the man Jesus, is about transformation.  The theory is that second chances are supposed to happen and that forgiveness, hope and resurrection was the point of that truly terrible event.

However, tomorrow it all about the birth of Christ. A new beginning and a fresh and wonderful start.  Some of us, if not all of us, know a little about failure, loss, and even being a criminal.  You see, most of us, if not all of us, have made mistakes.  Some of us have learned a great deal from those and have endured great pain and suffering. Very much like Christ after only 33 years from that magical birth in Bethlehem.  

Imagine that birth! A mother who was so scared because she was pregnant without being married. Disenfranchised by family and friends and no place to go or stay.  A birth that was so common that few at the time even paid attention.  I wonder if today that some of us are still too busy and are not paying attention.  I am honored to be part of a wonderful ministry of Returning Citizens.  People who once had great power and wealth, a force to be reckoned with. Some of us, myself included, probably didn’t pay much attention to this “birthday” idea. But now every Monday night we talk, pray, share our stories and tell a narrative of hope, change, and redemption.  Most of us have started anew and are doing important things again, but for very different reasons. Even though we are making the world a better place again, most of us haven’t learned the simple idea of forgiveness, especially for ourselves. I am hoping for a miracle…..that we can change this during our Christmas season. 

When I celebrate Mass I am reminded each time of this great gift and season.  When we pour the water into the Chalice, every Priest recites an ancient prayer; “Through the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.”  The God we celebrate tomorrow became human so that all of us can become divine.  With our broken and fragile lives, even amidst the sorrows and losses, we can be the message of hope, joy and love.  Indeed, that is a message of humanity and our divinity. The message, and the greatest gift, is that we can all be a divine Christmas miracle.  May God love you all!


To my fellow pilgrims,
During my time in prison I was struck by the contrast in lifestyles. This wasn’t a comparison of opulence versus scarcity. For me it was never about the absence of material possession. Rather, it was about embracing the gift I had been given: moral bankruptcy. I came to realize that all that I had thought was real, important, and meaningful was empty. I was able to think critically for perhaps the first time in my life, and I became open to a new truth: wealth lies in a foundation of relations predicated on common purpose and understanding and a true love for my fellows. 
I saw a movie during my “correctional vacation” called The Way. It was a film about a man who alone begins a spiritual journey over a European trail called the Camino Santiago de Compostela, and completes his journey connected to others in a way he’d never previously known. I came to know the phrase “Buen Camino”, loosely translated meaning, “Good way”.  It’s a greeting that each traveler offers a fellow pilgrim on the Camino. And in my new life I came to understand that each of us are on our own path – our own Way, if you will. 
A few years ago I had the opportunity to make my own pilgrimage on the Camino and I met hundreds of people from all walks of life, from around the world, and we shared our common purpose and understanding. We understood intuitively the love inherent in the simple greeting “Buen Camino”. That love was predicated on our individual and shared mission, born of our experiences and struggles. So to has it been getting to meet each of you. In you I have found our common understanding, common experience, and common purpose despite the eclectic nature of our backgrounds. 
The holidays are a time to celebrate the unity that our Higher Power has endowed us with, among our family and our fellows.  And in this new life – no longer morally bankrupt (most of the time) – I embrace each of you as my fellow pilgrims, and I hope that I can be the same to you. 
Whether Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic, or Christian this time of year allows us to take inventory of who we are, what we have, and how we value those men and women around us. I’m proud to be included among you, my fellow Pilgrims, and to celebrate our common struggles for the myriad ways in which they’ve brought us together, and made us better Pilgrims. 
To each of you I say thank you, Happy Holidays, and Buen Camino. 
Joshua C. Cagney, M.A.
Director of Communications, New Paradigm Recovery