Today, Ash Wednesday, about 30 friends from the faith-based peace and justice community in the D.C.-Baltimore area gathered outside the White House for a Liturgy of Repentance that was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. Below is the Opening Reflection/Leaflet that I offered as well as an Order of the Liturgy. Please also see photos that were taken by Sarah Magno. Toward the end of the Liturgy, ashes were blessed and distributed among the participants. A different batch of woodstove ashes were then used to mark Pennsylvania Ave., directly in front of the White House, as a sign of repentance for the sins of the nation as well as our commitment to follow the Gospel.
Let us pray with and for each other, and for our church and world, that we can truly repent and convert our lives to making God’s reign of love, justice and peace a reality.
With great gratitude,
Ash Wednesday: A Call to Personal and Societal Repentance and Conversion
Today is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time for personal and societal repentance, 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 is responsible for so much needless death and suffering in our world, we need to heed Jesus’ proclamation now more than ever.
As people from different faith-based communities committed to nonviolence, justice and peace, we come to pray and witness outside the White House today, calling 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. Seeking to eradicate what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism, we call for an end to a corporate, political and military order that is based on greed and violence and which translates into systemic domination and exploitation. We call for debt cancellation for poor nations and a just economic order; justice for the poor and all immigrants; an end to torture, indefinite detention, solitary confinement and the mass incarceration complex; the closing of Guantanamo, the SOA/WHINSEC and all secret detention and torture sites; a criminal justice system based on compassion, fairness and restorative justice; and for the conversion of our war-based economy to one centered on serving the common good, alleviating poverty and protecting our endangered environment. Living in a nation whose origin is rooted in slavery and genocide, we commit ourselves to ending racism and all forms of discrimination as we call for an end to all violence and killing everywhere, an end to Islamophobia and the demonization of Muslims, and accountability for those responsible for acts of violence, especially with respect to the killing of so many blacks by white police.
As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist has now moved the doomsday clock to three minutes to midnight because climate change and the danger of nuclear war pose an ever-growing threat to civilization and are bringing the world closer to doomsday, we call for urgent action to be taken to end the climate crisis, safeguard the environment and abolish all nuclear weapons. We call, too, for an end to the U.S. militarization of space, all warmaking and U.S. military intervention worldwide, and the elimination of all weapons–from guns to killer drones. We also call for an end to the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation of Palestine and we implore those in power to unequivocally renounce the use of force and pursue nonviolent and diplomatic actions to bring about just resolutions to conflicts worldwide, especially now in the Ukraine, the Middle East and West Africa.
On this Ash Wednesday, we commit ourselves to working with sister’s and brother’s worldwide to create the Beloved Community as we seek to make God’s reign of love, justice and peace a reality in our society and world, right here, right now!
For more information contact: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649
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.