Tattoos on the Heart By Jenna Schmitt


I really like that Fr. Greg Boyle didn't write this book a "memoir" or a "how to deal with gangs" kind of book. He wrote the book to tell the stories of the homies and to and to show that no lives matter more than others. I really like the story of Sharkey and how he reacted when Fr. Greg told him how heroic and courageous he is. He was surprised by what he said and told him that he wants to tattoo that on his heart. He was the reason the book was named Tattoos on the Heart.

Chapter 1: God, I Guess

I really like what this chapter says about God's presence in our lives. He says that God thinks we are all "firme," or cannot be one bit better, and that God does love us even if we don't always feel it. God will always love us no matter what and he will always find joy in us. My favorite story from this chapter was Scrappy's. Scrappy had always resisted Fr. Greg and once even pulled a gun on him, so he wasn't very happy when Scrappy showed up in his office. Fr. Greg agreed to talk to him and they laughed together. Scrappy wanted to change, so he got a job at Homeboy Industries.

Chapter 2: Dis-grace

I think that we have all felt like disgraces at some time in our lives. This shame is the reason that many homies turn to gangs or drugs. God doesn't care about any of that, but instead he "looks beyond our fault to see our needs." My favorite story was about Speedy and his family. He had a hard childhood and a broken family, but he built a new life for his family. Now every Sunday they go to mass, then out to eat, and then to read at Barnes and Noble. He finally bought them a Harry Potter book and he just enjoyed listened go to them read.

Chapter 3: Compassion

Compassion is what Jesus did; compassion is God. Compassion isn't only service to others, but the ability to see ourselves in kinship with them. It is about working for peace and bringing others to you. The most impactful story was about Betito who called Fr. G the real deal. When Betito was only twelve, he was shot and killed, and Fr. Greg said he was the real deal.

Chapter 4: Water, Oil, Flame

The water, oil, and flame stand for baptism and funerals. Fr. Greg has baptized hundreds of people and has buried almost as many. We can learn through baptism how to be more like Christ and how to let go of ange. The most impactful story in this chapter was about Gearge and Cisco. Gearge was about to make his first communion when his brother Cisco was shot. When Gearge was told about it after his baptism, his greed was pure and true and he resembled "the heartbreak of God."

Chapter 5: Slow Work

Although change can sometimes seem like slow work, it is worth it in the end. We should trust in the slow work of God becuase God will always wait. Even though we sometimes find ourselves stuck in the dark of sin, we can always return to light of God. My favorite story in this chapter was about Grumpy. Most people accept Fr. G's offer to take off their tattoos, but Grumpy refused. One day at a Lakers game, Father Greg saw Grumpy and he said that he gets out soon and he wants him to take off his tattoos. Grumpy had decided he was ready to change for the better.

Chapter 6: Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is the sphere of acceptance that we should all be a part of. When we see beyond the differences, we can learn to accept others into our jurisdiction. Once we really know someone, it is impossible to demonize them or exclude them. My favorite story was with Chepe and Richie. Fr. Greg brought them along to give a talk, and they went to a restaurant. At the restaurant, most people were rude and stared at them, but the waitress was kind. She was "Jesus in an apron," and she was the only one who accepted the homies and lmade them feel like they mattered.

Chapter 7: Gladness

God created us for joy and happiness. God finds delight in us and truly wants us to be happy. The world was made to be good and made so that we could hear the music when nothing is playing. My favorite story from this section was about Moreno. Moreno got locked up and was enrolled in high school. He usually acts bored with everything and doesn't really express interest, but when Fr. G asked about science, he actually got excited. He found something that brought him joy and that really interested him.

Chapter 8: Success

Success is not just having a lot of money or being powerful; it is choosing to stand as equals with everyone. If we have faith in God, He will create a community of resistance through us. Kinship is even better and is more value less than success. The most impactful story was about Soledad and her sons. Her oldest son, Ronnie, was in the military and was killed when he came home to visit her. She mourned for a few months before she finally decided break out of the grief. That same day, her second son, Angel, was killed. While in the hospital, Soledad saw a boy who was from the gang that killed her son, and she prayed for him.

Chapter 9: Kinship

Kinship happens when we realize that we all belong to each other and that there are no differences between us. It is standing with others as equals, not just helping others. When there is kinship, we feel like we matter and that we do have worth. My favorite story from this chapter was about Alex. Alex is a homie that went with Fr. Greg to talk at the White House. On the airplane home, he told a flight attendant about what they had done and how they were the first gang members to every enter the White House. The flight attendant cried when he told her this because she saw Alex as a person made in the image of God.


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