About 30 people from various peace and faith communities in D.C. held an Ash Wednesday Prayer Service of Repentance and Conversion outside the White House. We were also joined by eight new friends from Loyola University in Chicago who spent a week at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker for their Alternative Break Immersion. The liturgy was sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. When we returned to the White House two days later for our weekly Friday peace vigil, ashes that we used to mark the street during the Ash Wednesday liturgy were still very visible.
Below is the leaflet that was read and passed out to tourists and portions of the liturgy that was offered. Please see photos taken by our friend Ted Majdosz.
Ash Wednesday Appeal for Repentance and Call for Peace and Justice
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time for personal and societal repentance. This is a time for radical conversion, renewal and transformation. Living under the brutal occupation of the Roman empire, Jesus declared: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk.1:15) Living in the U.S. empire, which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” we need to heed Jesus’ call for repentance now more than ever.
We live in an empire that has its roots in the genocide and enslavement of native peoples and Africans. Today corporate, financial, political and military powers are waging a global war to acquire and control resources. The U.S. extends its unrelenting violence in Afghanistan, and has escalated its military intervention in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan through the use of killer Drones. “Kill Lists” have been secretly drawn up to assassinate anyone the U.S. government deems a threat, including its own citizens. Violence, economic exploitation and global warming claim countless lives daily. The victims cry out for justice. The earth groans in travail.
The purpose of this witness is to call for repentance and conversion of ourselves, our society and our churches to the Gospel way of justice, nonviolence and a reverence for all life and creation. As we stand here in front of the White House, we pray and call for:
– an end to all violence and that the sacredness of all life be upheld wherever it is threatened;
– an end to all racism, demonization and scapegoating;
– the abolition of war and an end to all U.S. military intervention;
– an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and advisers from Afghanistan;
–a public renunciation of the secret “Kill Lists” and an end to all U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere;
– U.S. reparations for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan;
– cancellation of an estimated $1 trillion that the U.S. will spend over the next 30 years to maintain and modernize its nuclear arsenal;
– the abolition of all guns, total disarmament of nuclear and conventional weapons, and the demilitarization of space;
– an immediate end to the construction of the new U.S. backed naval base being built on Jeju Island in S. Korea that will serve a U.S. military outpost to contain China;
– an end to the U.S.-supported Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza;
– an end to torture, accountability for those who ordered and carried out torture, and the closing of the Guantanamo military prison, along with other military torture training centers like the SOA/WHINSEC;
– a dismantling of the mass incarceration prison complex and an end to all detention camps in the U.S.;
– an end to AFRICOM and the U.S. militarization of Africa;
– repeal of the National Defense Authorization Act which has codified into law indefinite detention for suspected foreign and domestic terrorists and their supporters;
– the conversion of our war-based economy to one centered on serving the common good;
– an end to corporate domination;
– the cancellation of all debts for poor countries;
– the eradication of poverty, a fair redistribution of wealth and a just economic order;
– universal health care for all;
– that every effort be made to stop global warming and reverse climate change;
– justice for all native peoples, African Americans, Hispanics and all immigrants;
– that the wall on the U.S. and Mexico border come down.
Let us seek during this holy season to be the change that we want to see in the world and recommit ourselves to help create the beloved community.
For more info contact the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649.
From the Ash Wednesday Liturgy of Repentance Outside the White House
Archbishop Oscar Romero on the meaning of Lent
“This Lent, which we observe amid blood and sorrow, ought to presage a transfiguration of our people, a resurrection of our nation. The church invites us to a modern form of penance, of fasting and prayer – perennial Christian practices, but adapted to the circumstances of each people.
“Lenten fasting is not the same thing in those lands where people eat well as is a Lent among our third-world peoples, undernourished as they are, living in a perpetual Lent, always fasting. For those who eat well, Lent is a call to austerity, a call to give away in order to share with those in need. But in poor lands, in homes where there is hunger, Lent should be observed in order to give to the sacrifice that is everyday life the meaning of the cross.
“But it should not be out of a mistaken sense of resignation. God does not want that. Rather, feeling in one’s flesh the consequences of sin and injustice, one is stimulated to work for social justice and a genuine love for the poor. Our Lent should awaken a sense of social justice.”
Litany of Repentance and Conversion
As we begin this Lenten Season we ask God’s forgiveness for our complicity in the violence now unleashed in our world and we repent of the violence in our own hearts.
Response: Deliver us O God
From the arrogance of power…Response: Deliver us O God
From the tryanny of greed
From the politics of hypocrisy
From the addiction of control
From the idolatry of national security
From the cancer of hatred
From the hystreia of nationalism
From the sin of racism
From the sin of sexism
From the sin of torture
From the sin of war
From the waste and preparation of war
In humility we ask o God, hear our prayer.
(Adapted from CPT Litany of Resistance, by Jim Looney)
Response: Forgive us O God
For our hardness of the heart….Forgive us O God
For wasting our gifts
For wanting too much
For wounding the earth
For ignoring the poor
For trusting in weapons
For refusing to listen
For exporting arms
For desiring dominance
For lacking humility
For failing to risk
For failing to trust
For failing to act
For failing to hope
For failing to love
For failing to negotiate
For our arrogance
For our impatience
For our pride
For our silence
Response: Change our hearts O God
That we learn compassion….Change our hearts O God
That we embrace nonviolence
That we act in justice
That we live in hope
That we do your will
That we love our enemies
That we strive to be peacemakers
That we live simply
That we practice sharing
That we protect the earth
That we cherish all life
(Adapted from Pax Christi USA)
Closing prayer – From Bill Wylie Kellermann, Seasons of Faith and Conscience
“To keep Lent is to follow Jesus in the prayer of wilderness and garden…
To keep Lent is to confront the principalities and powers first of all in prayer. With Jesus we face the dark side of ourselves this is so susceptible to capture and control by the powers. If it happens that we keep vigil publicly at the gates of economic, military, political or religious authority, we do so confessionally, acknowledging the solidarity of sin…
To keep Lent is to discover and remember who in heaven’s name we are, as person and community. We pray against all confusers and confusions for our true identity and vocation. We know that means standing before the cross and making some choices…
The grace of this season is that Jesus suffers the choice with us. He’s been over the turf and is our brother exactly on that score, with us in the struggle of our hearts. Let the further grace be that we make our choice as disciples, in the mind and heart of Christ.”