Thursday, June 3, 2010

Prayer for Forgiveness, Hope and Reconciliation

(During our times of crisis life is like a desert - dry and unyielding as we struggle to find nourishment and renewal - hoping to find the means to sustain us on this journey of life.)

Wednesday night I responded to an invitation I received and visited the Calvert House, the Catholic Center at the University of Chicago. Many of you are aware of my interest in interfaith dialogue. At the time I responded I was not aware that this gathering was a "prayer for forgiveness, hope and reconciliation" for the misconduct of Catholic priests recently revealed by the media. A student had evidently approached Father Pat, the Director at the Center about conducting the service. Since I had not been following the news I sat present with a sense of deja vu hearing the pain and anguish expressed by the students. Those of you that know me are aware that I did my dissertation research on clergy sexual misconduct in the Unitarian Universalist Association. While my degree was conferred in 2007 I began my research around 2004. Listening to the students and the priests conversations about recent occurrences it almost appeared that nothing has changed except recognition of its global context. This global misconduct now removes the perception that somehow American decadence was a result of the clergy misconduct in this country.

A total of eleven students attended. All but one of them was Catholic. The other was Disciple of Christ.

Here is an excerpt of a prayer, A Song of Christ's Goodness from Saint Anselm of Canterbury that was recited:

Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you; you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.
Often you weep over our sins and our pride, tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgment. You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds, in sickness you nurse us and with pure milk you feed us. Jesus, by your dying, we are born to new life; by your anguish and labor we come forth in joy. Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness; through your gentleness, we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead, your thought makes sinners righteous.

Lord Jesus, in your mercy, remake us. In your compassion, bring grace and forgiveness, for the beauty of heaven, may your love prepare us.

The rest of the service was modeled after the 2000 "Day of Pardon" Service by His Holiness John Paul II in which participants confess their sins, repent and ask God's forgiveness. After each reading there was a moment of silence and after each confession and prayer a candle was lit on the candelabra at the front of the Chapel.

The service was ended with a very moving prayer and we dismissed, exchanged the greeting of peace and I departed.

Q. What have you recently done to promote healing where there is dis-ease and pain? to promote justice where there is injustice? and to stand with the marginalized?

Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah