Report of Ash Wednesday Liturgy of Repentance Outside the White House–March 6, 2019

“A Church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed – what Gospel is that”?

“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… “

— From the writings of St. Oscar Romero

 

Dear Friends,

Today, Ash Wednesday, from Noon-1:00 PM, over 40 peacemakers from the faith-based peace and justice community in the D.C.-Baltimore-Virginia area, and six friends from Loyola University of Chicago, gathered outside the White House for a Liturgy of Repentance. This Liturgy was organized by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. 

Despite chilling below freezing temperatures and Pennsylvania Ave. being closed off before we began our witness, I am very thankful to everyone for their amazing resilience. We initially assembled farther down Pennsylvania Ave. on the other side of the cordoned-off area, but as grace would have it, the Secret Service re-opened the street as we began our witness. So we processed singing to our witness site in front of the White House. 

I am deeply grateful to everyone who attended this prayer service and for each of the program participants who read, sang and offered such inspiring and moving prayers/reflections. Below is the program for the Liturgy as well as the Litany that was offered. Toward the end of the Liturgy, ashes were blessed and distributed among the participants and a special blessing was offered over three peacemakers soon traveling to Honduras. After people received blessed ashes, peacemakers used a different batch of wood stove ashes 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.  

IMAG1284_2.jpg

(photo courtesy of Franz Kuo)

During this Holy Lenten Season, 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, mercy and peace a reality.

 

With great gratitude, 

Art  

 

PROGRAM FOR ASH WEDNESDAY LITURGY OF REPENTANCE

March 6, 2019 Noon-1:00 PM — Outside White House

Opening Song: Prayer of Peace — Joe Byrne

Peace before us, peace behind us, peace under our feet

Peace within us, peace over us, let all around us be peace

Love before us…

Welcome: Art Laffin

Reading: Joel: 2, 12-18 — Colleen McCarthy

Reading: From the writings of St. Oscar Romero— Mike Walli

Litany: Art Laffin/Loyola Univ. Chicago Students/Nick Mele/Sr.’s Ardeth Platte & Carol Gilbert

Response– Sing: God forgive the wrong we’ve done, God forgive us now

Prayers from Faith-Based Peace and Justice Groups:

  • Marie Dennis: Assisi Community, Pax Christi International
  • Scott Wright: Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
  • Kevin Carroll: Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  • Rachel Schmidt: Pax Christi USA
  • Maria Orlandini : Franciscan Action Network
  • MJ Park: Little Friends for Peace

Prayer for Truth-Tellers, Whistleblowers and Prisoners: Kathy Boylan and Judith Kelly

Song: Ashes (by Tom Conry) –Laura and Joe

We rise again from ashes from the good we’ve failed to do. We rise again from ashes to create ourselves anew. If all our world is ashes, then must our lives be true, an offering of ashes, an offering to You. We offer You our failures, we offer You attempts; the gifts not fully given, the dreams not fully dreamt. Give our stumblings direction, give our visions wider view, an offering of ashes, an offering to You.

Then rise again from ashes, let healing come to pain, though spring has turned to winter, and sunshine turned to rain. The rain we’ll use for growing, and create the world anew, from an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

Blessing of Three Peacemakers Traveling to Honduras

Blessing and Distribution of Ashes — Friar Mike Lasky, OFM Conv.

Ash Ritual on Pennsylvania Ave.

Closing Prayer: Paul Magno

Closing Song: World Peace Prayer — Joe, Art and Laura

Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth, From despair to hope, from fear to trust;

Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace; Let peace fill our hearts, let peace fill our world, Let peace fill our universe.

Let justice ever roll, let mercy fill the earth. Let us begin to grow into your people. We can be love, we can bring peace, We can still be your way of compassion. Refrain:

Still all the angry cries, still all the angry guns, Still now your people die, earth’s sons and daughters. Let Justice roll, let mercy pour down, come and teach us Your way of compassion. Refrain:

Litany 

(Prepared by Art Laffin)

Introduction:

As we stand outside the White House, and in proximity to other seats of political, corporate, military and judicial power in this area, we implore You, O God, to banish every diabolic power and evil influence from these places. Help all Your people, who are made in Your very image, to respect the sacredness of all life and reject the idols of death. It is in this spirit of repentance and conversion, believing that all things are possible if we place our trust in You, O God, that we offer the following litany.

Sung response–God Forgive the Wrong We’ve Done, God Forgive Us Now

1. Living in a nation whose origin is rooted in white supremacy, racism, sexism and mistreatment of women, slavery and genocide, we pray in repentance for those sins that has caused so much needless death and suffering in our society and world—past and present. We acknowledge the churches complicity in these sins. As the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative declared in its April 2016 Appeal: “Clearly the Word of God should never be used to justify violence, injustice and war. We confess that the people of God have betrayed the Gospel of Nonviolence many times, participating in wars, persecutions, oppression, exploitation and discrimination.”                                           

Sung response–God Forgive the Wrong We’ve Done, God Forgive Us Now  

2. We pray for all those–past and present–who have been and continue to be crucified to a cross of racial violence. We remember and pray for all those American Indians and African Americans who were slaughtered, enslaved, lynched and murdered, and who continue to be oppressed, simply because of their skin color.

Sung response–God Forgive the Wrong We’ve Done, God Forgive Us Now

3. Today, we are especially mindful of our duty as Christians to proclaim the Gospel mandates of love, mercy and justice and to nonviolently resist the hate-filled, fear-driven and destructive policies of the Trump administration and its congressional and corporate allies. We denounce all racial profiling. We decry the fact that a disproportionate number of African Americans are imprisoned, executed and victims of police violence. We denounce the demonizing and targeting of Muslims. We denounce the ICE raids, detention, tear gassing and deportation of immigrants and a new Border Wall. We denounce the continuing desecration of native lands. We commit ourselves to ending all forms of racial hatred, sexism and discrimination.

Sung response: God Forgive the Wrong We’ve Done, God Forgive Us Now

4. During this Holy Season, we call upon the nation and churches to join with us, and countless others, including the new Poor People’s Campaign, in seeking to eradicate what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism.” While the Trump Administration awards tax cuts to the rich and the military budget now exceeds $700 billion, an estimated 140 million Americans are poor and low income, 328,000 of whom live in WDC. Over 7,400 are homeless in W.D.C. Millions are without adequate health care nationwide. We call for an end to a political and economic order that fosters corporate domination, systemic racism and income inequality. We call for economic justice for the poor, homeless and jobless; comprehensive immigration reform, and affordable health care and housing for all. We call for an end to torture, indefinite detention and the death penalty; debt cancellation for poor countries; and that all necessary aid be allocated to continue to help rebuild Puerto Rico.

Sung response–God Forgive the Wrong We’ve Done, God Forgive Us Now

5. When will the U.S. government repent for the death, destruction, trauma and destabilization it has caused, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, Central and South America, and the Asia-Pacific region through its years of military intervention, warmaking, arms sales and oppressive trade agreements, which has helped create the conditions for the rise of the Islamic State and a massive refugee and immigration crisis?

Sung response–God Forgive the Wrong We’ve Done, God Forgive Us Now 

6. Now is the time for the U.S. to repent and make reparations for the violence, death and suffering that it has inflicted on other countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan. We demand an end to U.S. intervention worldwide, especially right now in Venezuela and Yemen. As a result of the U.S. backed Saudi war in Yemen, an estimated 85,000 children have already died during the last three years, millions of Yemenis experience starvation and at least one million face a cholera epidemic. We call on the U.S. to reject the way of revenge and retaliation as a response to conflict and to make peace with its adversaries. We call, too, on the U.S. to halt all arms sales worldwide and to end its support for the illegitimate regime in Honduras and Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. We call for the closure of the over 800 U.S. military bases worldwide, including Guantanamo. And we call for the abolition of war and the conversion of our war-based economy to one centered on serving the common good and protecting the earth, our common home.

Sung response–God Forgive the Wrong We’ve Done, God Forgive Us Now 

7. We call on our nation to repent for the nuclear sin—for building, testing, using and continuing to build and threaten to use nuclear weapons. We remember and pray for all the victims of the nuclear age. We confess that the way we live today is desecrating the earth, changing the climate, the seas and the balance of life, and dispossessing the poor and future generations. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist has moved the “doomsday clock” to two minutes to midnight, because of the twin dangers nuclear weapons and climate change pose for civilization. The nuclear threat is further exacerbated today by the risk of accidental use of nuclear weapons and provocative actions by an unpredictable U.S. President, which include most recently the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty with Russia. We call on the Trump Administration and Congress to heed the admonition of Pope Francis who has condemned the possession of nuclear weapons and called for their total elimination. We call, too, on the U.S. government to abandon its $1 trillion nuclear modernization program, which includes the deployment of the W76-2 low yield Trident nuclear warhead in September,  and the B61-12’s in Europe, and to immediately ratify the historic UN Treaty for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. Until the U.S. takes the initiative to dismantle its own nuclear arsenal, it cannot ask any other nuclear nation to disarm. We also demand that urgent action be taken to end the climate crisis by becoming responsible stewards of the earth’s resources, ending our dependency on fossil fuels and pursuing renewable energy.

And we call for an end to the U.S. militarization of space, the termination of the U.S. Space Force, and that all the weapons of our time be beaten into plowshares–from guns to killer drones to nuclear weapons.

Sung response–God Forgive the Wrong We’ve Done, God Forgive Us Now

 

Published in: on March 4, 2019 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

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