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Litany for Parish or Private Use

Guide: The shame of the evils in our Church’s past and the painful memories we are discovering again are a “re-play” of the Chosen People’s misery recorded in the Book of Lamentations. The Book of Lamentations is a journey into the dark, dusty corners of human hearts, giving words to the hurt, horror and despair we feel in the face of tragedy and evil. It was written as an expression of grief over the cataclysmic destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. Jerusalem was the center of the nation’s faith, the great gift God had given Israel. The destruction of this city brought about a great crisis of faith. How was it possible to speak of the fidelity of God in the face of this destruction? Yet the verses of this lament alternate with lines of comfort, belief, and hope in the future. The Book of Lamentations is an apt companion for us also who at this time are struggling on many levels with what we see being revealed about the behavior of members of our Church. We too may be struggling with anger, shame, bitterness, confusion, or a crisis of faith. Let us turn to the book of Lamentations to lead us in this journey: Assembly: “Though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;… he has blocked my ways… he led me off my way and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate; ….He shot into my vitals the arrows of his quiver; I have become the laughingstock of all my people, the object of their taunt-songs all day long. He has filled me with bitterness…my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘Gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.’" (cf. Lamentations 3: 9-18)

Guide: For victims of abuse by clergy and church personnel, Assembly: Lord, embrace them with your love and heal them! Guide: From the scourge of sin and scandal, Assembly: Lord, deliver us your people and in your mercy heal us! Guide: For those who have left our church because of betrayal by a minister of your altar, we pray, Assembly: Grant peace to these wounded men and women, and embrace them with your love. Guide: For those who feel rage at what has happened, Assembly: We pray, Lord, bestow on them wisdom that they may use this energy to build up the Body of Christ. Guide: For those who feel helpless in these times of confusion, Assembly: Assure them that you founded your Church on solid rock with the promise to be with it until the end of time. Guide: For all those shaken at the enormity of so many offenses against children, Assembly: Remind them and all of us, Lord, that you are THE ULTIMATE RELIABLE ONE, our Rock of Salvation. Guide: For all of us saddened to see our Church looked down upon, sneered at, and “disfigured in the eyes of the world1”, Assembly: May this be a moment of true repentance and conversion for us all. Guide: For all of us dismayed at the slowness of members of our Church to respond, Assembly: Remind us, Lord, that this Church is both “paradox and mystery2”, both human and divine; that
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De Lubac, Henri, SJ, The Spendour of the Church, 1963, (Sheed & Ward) Paulist Press, Glen rock, NJ. De Lubac, Henri, SJ, The Church, Paradox and Mystery,

we are sinners and saints “in the making.” May we together seek at this moment in time to seek justice, transparency, and the changes necessary so this never happens again. Guide: For all who are tempted to leave the Church because of the sins of clergy abuse or because of the way Church leaders put the reputation of the Church ahead of the protection of children, Assembly: We reach out to them with our prayer and repeat the plea of St. John Chrysostom: “Do not separate yourselves from the Church.” Guide: For all who distance themselves from the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist because of the sins of some priests, Assembly: May they somehow discover anew that in and through the Church we partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus, and receive the forgiveness of our sins. Guide: For the many priests who have remained faithful and who in these past years have suffered because of the sins of their brother priests, Assembly: We pray you, Lord, console and strengthen them. Guide: For all of us that we might discover in the midst of these events the mysterious guidance of the Spirit, Assembly: Renew your Church, renew each of us, renew the world! Guide: We conclude this Litany of Intercession with the hope-filled words of the Book of Lamentations: Assembly and Guide: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord…. I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help, but give me relief!’ You came near when I called.” (Lamentation 3:21-26, 55-57). We pray all this though Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.

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