Pierre Raphael's God Behind Bars:
A Prison Chaplain Reflects on the Lord's Prayer
Page 1 of 5 NYCHS excerpts presentation pages.

Images above are from the NYCHS webmaster's 2006 photos
of Rikers' closed penitentiary (aka JATC) inmate chapel. They do not appear
in the book but are added in this presentation because the book mentions the chapel.

Copyright © 1999.

This book was originally published in French as Notre PŤre qui es enfer © 1977 by Desclee de Brouwer.

The English translation © 1999 by Paulist Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

Published by Paulist Press, 997 MacArthur Blvd., Mahwah, N.J. 07430 www.paulistpress.com

All scripture quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version.

This volume was translated from the French by Matthew OíConnell with further editing by Pat Ryan and Charles Mann.

Cover design by Cindy Dunne

Book Dedication: To my friends at Abraham House

In Contents list above right, click a chapter's name to access its excerpts.


. . . Before living in the South Bronx I was a chaplain at Rikers Island, New York Cityís penal colony, for sixteen years.

Related page links:

Above is an icon linked to excerpts from Inside Rikers Island. Immediately below and below left are icons linked to Abraham House images & texts. Thesse icons do not appear in the book excerpted here.

During that time I witnessed the prison population increase from six to twenty thousand.

The harshness of a jail, a place of brutal sterility like the desert, can force person to confront long-buried questions and matters screened by everyday living.

This book grew out of my desire to confront the reality of the desert, whether in or out of prison, with prayer, especially the prayer of the Our Father.

In the prisonersí bleak search for a way out of the pit, I have found that the Lordís Prayer is best able to overcome their brutalizing anger and despair.

Even in such an unlikely place as prison, against all odds, this prayer has a potency far greater than other prayers.

This power can be best expressed by the phrase that summarizes all the following pages: the Lordís Prayer puts an end to prison and turns the desert into fertile land. . . . .

Hope in Place of Prison:
Catholic Worker article on Abraham House
These reflections on the Our Father will give way to a description of Abraham House.

An alternative to incarceration, the very heart of Abraham House is rooted in the spirit of the Lordís Prayer. At Abraham House prisoners are able to make that journey from relating to God as Our Father in hell to Our Father in heaven.


The above excerpts are from Pages 3, 4 and 6.

NYCHS presents these text excerpts from Pierre Raphael's God Behind Bars: A Prison Chaplain Reflects on the Lord's Prayer by permission of its author and its publisher, which retains the copyright © and reserves all rights thereunder. For more about the book, contact Fr. Raphael at Abraham House where he is spiritual director, or visit Paulist Press, or Amazon.Com, or Barnes and Noble, or Google Book Search.
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Finding the
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