January

New Year’s Day / Mary, Mother of God / Prayer for Peace

Environment:

Candles, globe or picture of Earth, names of countries in need of peace

Music Suggestions:

We Are Called (Haas)
Gospel Canticle (Any Version)
Prayer for Peace (Haas)
What Child Is This (GREENSLEEVES)
There Is Nothing Told (Willcock)
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (Willis)
Sing Of The Lord’s Goodness (Sands)
Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Mendelssohn)
Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming (ES IST EIN’ ROS’ ENTSPRUNGEN)

Psalm Suggestions:

62; 112; 119:1-16; 122; 147; 148; 149

Antiphons: See Christian Prayer (January 1)

Reading Suggestions:

Micah 6:6-8; Deut. 26:17-19; Luke 2:19-21; Luke 2:33-35

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Intercessions: A Litany of Peacemakers from The Fire of Peace © 1992 published by Pax Christi USA, national Catholic peace movement, www.paxchristiusa.org. Used with permission.

Leader begins each invocation; all respond:
We pray to you, empower us to be peacemakers!

God, creator of the universe, author of our covenant of peace…

God, redeemer of the world, our way of peace…

God, sanctifier of conscience, gift of peace…

Mary, wellspring of reconciliation, mother of peacemakers…

Michael, our defender in the spiritual battle with forces of our own self-destruction…

Heavenly hosts, angelic warriors for universal peace…

Moses and Miriam, nonviolent liberators, architects and singers of the covenant of justice…

Isaiah, critic of militarism, prophet of peace…

Esther, intercessor for the powerless, emissary of peace…

Amos and Micah and Hosea, voices for the oppressed…

Jeremiah, doomsday seer, voice of lamentation…

Magdalene, faithful witness of Christ’s execution, first witness of his resurrection…

Peter and Paul, prisoners of conscience…

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, evangelists of the peaceable reign of God…

Felicity and Perpetua, midwives and mothers, sacrificed in the sport of a military empire…

Martin of Tours, conscientious objector…

Francis of Assisi, lover of creation, poor man with nothing to fight for…

Clare of Assisi, pacifier of armies with the power of the Eucharist…

Catherine of Siena, mystic diplomat, skilled negotiator…

Hildegarde of Bingen, mystic, lover of creation…

Gandhi, the Mahatma, nonviolent warrior…

Franz Jagerstatter resister for Christ…

Simone Weil, patroness of solidarity with the oppressed, fasting unto death with the hungry…

Martin Luther King, Jr., prophet and dreamer of the Beloved Community…

Thomas Merton, contemplative critic, mentor of peacemakers…

Pope John XXIII, herald of peace…

Pope Paul VI, apostle and teacher of peace…

Dorothy Day, lady poverty, mother of courage, witness to the radical gospel of peace…

Oscar Romero, shepherd of the poor, martyr for justice…

Maura, Ita, Jean, Dorothy, martyrs for the poor, handmaids of justice…

Saints of the Shaker, Mennonite, Quaker, and Church of the Brethren communions…

Children of light, transfigured in the fire-storms of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…

Children of darkness, transfigured in the night of torture and disappearance…

All you holy peacemakers, living and more living…
Jesus, Messiah, Prince of Peace…

Our Father

Sign of Peace

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Environment:

Lighted candle, opened Bible, fresh cut flowers in vase.

Introduction:

We gather together today to celebrate Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first person born in the United States to be declared a saint. Elizabeth Ann’s Episcopalian parents shared their love of Scripture and prayer with her. As a youngster she would often accompany her doctor father who taught her to love and serve the poor.

Hymn Suggestions:

Blest Are They (Haas)
Only This I Want (Schutte)
The Cry of the Poor (Foley)
We Are Called (Haas)
God Has Chosen Me (Farrell)
Here I Am, Lord (Schutte)
Come To the Water (Foley)

Psalm Suggestions:

82; 86; 116; 136; 138; 146

Reading Suggestions:

Matt. 19:14-15; Luke 4:14-19; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 9:23-27; Luke 1:39-45;
John 13:12-17

Reading: Excerpt from: A Diamond Crown for Christ the King by Sister Mary Barnaba, O.S.F.

“Truly it has been said that there is a long chain of contributing circumstances leading up to every great influence that is exerted in the world. While history records the achievements of nations and individuals, it does not discern the secret springs, the mysterious working of Divine Providence, by which events are produced. Ordinarily God’s designs are brought about by slow processes such as are followed in the law of growth, so that advances from day to day are imperceptible and call forth no comment. At times, however, God manifests [God’s] self in a marvelous manner, and uses as instruments for accomplishment of [God’s] will those whom [God] invests with extraordinary power, which causes them to stand forth like superterrestrial beings, and forces the world to exclaim: ‘Here is the hand of God! How wonderful are [God’s] ways.’”

Copyright © 1930, The Sisters of St. Francis, Our Lady of Angels Convent,
Glen Riddle, PA; Walther Printing House, Philadelphia, PA

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore, God has anointed me.

Listening, Waiting Prayer:

We are now invited to prayerfully ponder some of the moments in our own lives when we were aware of, “Here is the hand of God! How wonderful are [God’s] ways.” During this Prayer of Listening and Waiting we will not have to be concerned about sharing our insights, blessings, etc. with those gathered with us for prayer. In the stillness of Listening and Waiting Prayer we will share in the flow of prayerful energy that will be felt by all.

(Invite sisters to close their eyes for this reflection. Allow 5 minutes.)

Intercessions:

Response: Loving God, hear our prayer.

For our Church and her ministry to the poor and oppressed, we pray…

For all countries of the world to be places of peace and welcome, we pray…

For all teachers, school administrators, and staff members, we pray…

For families to be havens of love and respect for one another and their neighbors, we pray…

For catechumens who are preparing for the Easter sacraments, we pray…

For the Daughters of Charity and their efforts to reflect the compassion and dedication of their foundress, Elizabeth Ann Seton, we pray…

For those who are grieving the loss of family members and dear friends and for all who have died, we pray…

Our Father

Closing Prayer:

Loving God, you graced Elizabeth Ann Seton, enabling her to be a good wife, mother, teacher, and foundress, so that she might give her life in ministry to others. May her example inspire us to be compassionate and selfless in our love for you and for one another. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.

Prayer Service for the Feast of St. John Neumann

January 5

ENVIRONMENT:

SUGGESTION
Hash Browns are the American version of the Middle European Rosti. John Neumann enjoyed these in many a farm kitchen. Think of the people of our country as you prepare them. Pray for them and thank God for the gift of our society just as John Nepomucene Neumann did for the Americans of his day.
Recipe:
1 lb new potatoes
1 carrot
1 chopped onion
Salt and pepper
Optional:
Crushed garlic
2 oz grated cheese
Peel and parboil the potatoes and carrot for 10 minutes. Cool. Grate both on a coarse grater. Add other ingredients and season to taste. Divide the mixture into 8 pieces, flattening them into rectangles. Heat 4 tablespoons of oil and one of butter in a frying pan and cook the hash browns 4 – 5 minutes on each side. Serve with bacon and fried mushrooms for breakfast, or with 2 other vegetables for something other than breakfast. Tomato sauce is nice or some homemade chutney to aid your digestion.
Bible, candle, picture of John Neumann, cross

CALL TO PRAYER:

“One must be ready, for death comes when and where God wills it.” (St. John Neumann)
The Bishop of Philadelphia lay crumpled in the snow a few blocks from his new cathedral on Logan Square. By the time a priest reached him with the holy oils, Bishop Neumann was dead. That was January 5, 1860. At his own request Bishop Neumann was buried in a crypt in Saint Peter’s Church where he would be with his Redemptorist confreres.

HYMN:

“Only This I Want” – Dan Schutte
PSALM 63:1-9 Pray psalm antiphonally.

Antiphon:

My life is at the service of theGospel;
God has given me this grace.

O God, you are my God whom I eagerly seek; for you my flesh longs and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless, and without water.

I have gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory. For your love is better than life; my lips shall glorify you.

Thus will I praise you while I live; lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name. As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be filled, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.

On my bed I will remember you, and through the night watches I will meditate on you:
because you are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

But they shall be destroyed who seek my life; they shall go down to the depths of the earth. They shall be delivered over to the sword and shall be the food of jackals.

However, I shall rejoice in God. Everyone who swears by God shall give praise, but the mouths of those who speak falsely shall be silenced.

Glory . . .

READING: John 10:11-16

RESPONSE: “Shepherd Me O God” – Marty Haugen Sing the refrain. The verses may be recited.

GOSPEL CANTICLE:

Antiphon:

Our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with
full conviction. Morning – “Benedictus” – Bernadette Farrell Evening – “Magnificat” – Bernadette Farrell

INTERCESSIONS:

O God, you selected some to be leaders of your people: to teach, strengthen, and support them. We lift up our hearts and pray:

Response: Send down your Spirit on those you have chosen.

For the Church, particularly for all in positions of authority, we pray…
For Christian educators throughout the world, we pray…
For immigrants, those who are alienated, and those who are poor and all who minister among them, we pray…
For Christians everywhere, called to wash the feet of their brothers and sisters, we pray…
For all who have died, we pray…

OUR FATHER

CLOSING PRAYER:

O Saint John Neumann, your ardent desire of bringing all souls to Christ impelled you to leave home and country; teach us to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism which makes us all children of the one God and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the family of God.

Obtain for us that complete dedication in the service of those who are needy, weak, afflicted, and abandoned which so characterized your life. Help us to walk perseveringly in the difficult, and at times, painful paths of duty, strengthened by our Eucharistic life and under the watchful protection of Mary our Mother. Amen.

CLOSING REMEMBRANCES:

“Among the shepherds of the flock in Philadelphia,” wrote Pope Pius XII, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the diocese, “the figure of Venerable John Neumann is pre-eminent. It was mainly through his prodigious efforts that a Catholic school system came into being and that parochial schools began to rise across the land. His holy life, his childlike gentleness, his hard labor, and his tremendous foresight is still fresh and green among you. The tree planted and watered by Bishop Neumann now gives you its fruit.”

“The life of John Neumann remains a challenge to all of us…”
—John Cardinal Krol

Portions of this prayer service are used with permission and taken from John Cardinal Krol, The Autobiography of Saint John Neumann, C.SS.R. Copyrighted Material. Copyright © 1977 Daughters of St. Paul, Boston, MA. All Rights Reserved. www.pauline.org and from www.stjohnneumann.org/life.html.

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF, and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984, The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 15

Environment:

For three days before this prayer service each sister can place peace /nonviolent symbols in a central place for all to contemplate. This activity will be the focus of the faith sharing in the prayer service.

Hymn Suggestions:

We Are Called (Haas)
Bring Forth The Kingdom (Haugen)
Anthem (Conry)
Reconciling Creation (Likovich, Roberts)

Call To Prayer:

Each sister will take a few moments of silence to find her center.

We gather this day to remember Martin Luther King, Jr. who gave his life for the Christian values of nonviolence, peace, and acceptance of all races. Jesus himself gave this gift of peace to His apostles to share with all and He asks us as His followers to do the same in our personal, as well as communal lives. In this spirit let us pray…

Psalm Suggestions:

37:1-9; 46; 92.

Reading Suggestions:

Isaiah 45:15-25; 1 Corinthians 13; Tobit 13:18

Faith Sharing:

In what ways has Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement impacted your life?
The leader invites the sisters to share their peace/nonviolent symbols from the prayer table.

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.

Intercessions:

On this day, we remember the many ways that we have discriminated against so many people. We confess our need to turn away from the sin of our prejudice, to turn toward the God of all people. This day we pray for those who have suffered oppression, of any kind.

Response: In your mercy, heal us.

For open eyes to see others as our sisters and brothers, we pray…

For all who have suffered persecution because of their race, faith, or lack of education, we pray…

For all perpetrators of injustice, we pray…

For what else do we pray…

Our Father

February

World Day for Consecrated Life

Environment:

Flowers, candles, crucifix, Bible, salt (in small containers for each participant)

Hymn Suggestions:

On Eagles Wings (Joncas)
Center of My Life (Inwood)
Look, Look on Jesus (O’Hare)
All My Days (Schutte)
I Have Loved You (Joncas)
You Are Mine (Haas)
Ubi Caritas (Hurd)
Be Not Afraid (Dufford)
We Have Been Told (Haas)
Only This I Want (Schutte)

Opening Prayer:

Jesus, your total trust in the Father through your suffering and death is a beacon for us. Turn our minds to the wellsprings of living water, your Spirit within us, and let our actions bear witness to that Presence so that we may be instruments of peace. Help us to be faithful witnesses of your love. Amen.

Psalm Suggestions:

24:8-10; 71; 110:1-5

Reading Suggestions:

Luke 2:22-40; Mal. 3:1-40, TOR Rule, Chapter I, Article I; TOR Rule Chapter IX, Article 29; Chief Seattle

Recommitting Ourselves:

Pray together your congregation’s vow renewal formula.
Gospel Canticle Antiphon:
The mercies of God endure from age to age, working miracles for the chosen ones.

Intercessions:

Response: Lord, hear us.
For all in leadership in the Church, in the nations, in religious congregations, we pray…
For the grace to faithfully witness the love and fidelity of God, we pray…
For all who profess the evangelical counsels, we pray…
For our sisters and brothers whose lives are diminished by poverty, sickness, or abuse, we pray…
For those who have been examples of God’s love in our lives, we pray…
For an increase of vocations to religious life, we pray…

Our Father

Closing Prayer:

We give thanks to you Creator, God, for having called us to follow you. By our baptism and religious profession, may we be continuously renewed and transformed into your likeness so that those we serve may share in the promises of your Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

March

Spring / Rebirth and Beginnings

Environment:

bright atmosphere, upbeat music, signs of beginnings (plant with new shoots, baby pictures, etc.)

Leader:
“From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth: and not only creation, but all of us… (Rm 8:22-23) As we move from winter, a time of stillness and hibernation to spring a time of new life, beginnings, and growth, we are invited to reflect on the many things that have been growing in us during our times of stillness and hibernation.

Hymn: “City of God” (Schutte)

Reader One:
I remember many springtimes when I’d awaken in the morning, look out the window, and zap, there this green grass would be. Robust, vibrant grass. It seemed like it was an overnight kind of thing, brown one day and bright green the next. This greening always came in the springtimes when we had drenching rains. One year, however, we had very little rain and many more cold days than usual. Each day I looked with hope, expecting to find fresh green pushing its way through the drab wintered spears of dryness. But each day I saw, instead, the same dull color before me.

When I looked closely, however, I could perceive little hints of new life and a slight changing in the color of the lawn. I could almost feel the earth straining, trying to draw forth new life from within it. I knew the green would come again, that it would just be a matter of time before warmth and moisture provided the right conditions for change and growth. Eventually, the green did return, but not until I had waited a long time for rain to come and drench the land.

Excerpted from page 90 of Out of the Ordinary by Joyce Rupp, © 2000. Used with permission from the publisher, Ave Maria Press. Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, www.avemariapress.com.

Reflection and Sharing:
All are invited to share signs of new life they have seen in the past two weeks.

Response: May be sung.
Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Reader Two:
Jesus also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grin in the head.” (Mk 4:26-28)

Reflection and sharing:
All are invited to reflect on and share things they have noticed in their own lives that have begun to spring up without their being aware of them.

Response: May be sung.
Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Leader:

God-love waits . . .
Patient,
Still,
Holding deep within her rich and womb-like soil of
Hope
The promise of a newer day . . .
A vision for the seeds that dare the dark
And risk the journey
Into God.

Tiny seed surrenders to the
Dark,
Secure in knowing that
Unknowing
Does not need to fear,
Listening
To the whispered secrets of a
Gentle God,
Trusting
That her journey into
Light
Begins with roots
That burrow in the
Heart of
Hope.

Nudged by nurturing
Darkness,
Drawn by unseen
Light
Fragile newness moves
Upward,
Outward,
And with gentle pressure on the
Womb of Earth
The slender stem is born,
Embraced and welcomed by the
Sun
And holding promise in its hidden roots.

And promise comes,
Held fast within each tightly fashioned
Bud,
Unfolded gently by the
Morning Sun.
And promise lives
In blossomed beauty that reflects its
Many-petaled God
And does not mourn the passing of its day
For blossoms born of
Hope
Know well their roots.

And God-love waits . . .
“Journey” by Ann Marie Slavin, OSF

Hymn: “City of God” (Schutte) Sing refrain only.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

St. Katharine Drexel

March 3

Environment:

Christ candle, African or Native American cloth(s) or artifact(s), incense, Bible

Hymn Suggestions:

Spiritual or Gospel Hymn
Prayer for Peace (Haas)
River of Glory (Haas)
Gather Your People (Hurd)
Song At The Center (Haugen)
In the Footprints of Jesus (Nelson)
Gospel Canticle (any version)

Native American music played throughout e.g., Star Visions by Marina Raye; Native Heart Music; P.O. Box 6250; Co. Springs, CO; 80934

Psalm/Canticle Suggestions:

112; 113; 116; 145; 146; Ephesians 1:3-10

Antiphon Suggestions:

For antiphons select from the words of Katharine Drexel:
All day long I abide with Christ and must watch him whom I am to imitate.
It is only entering into oneself in prayer and meditation that the soul can be restored to its true poise… and the value of unimportant things be seen in its true light.
It is a lesson we all need – to let alone the things that do not concern us.

Beware of sadness, for it is contrary to love in diminishing and destroying its power of affection; let us find courage in your cross, Lord Jesus, and joy in your resurrection.

Reading Suggestions:

Luke 9:11-17; Philippians 3:7-8

Reflection after Reading:

We must learn from our loving Savior how we may show kindness by listening, by making leisure for those who are in want of comfort, and by not interrupting or answering others before we have patiently heard all.

Excerpt from Reflections on Life in the Vine by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, 1983. Used with permission.

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

The offering of this intensity of love for our Eucharistic Lord should be a consuming zeal for the gathering of souls into the fold of Christ.

Excerpt from Reflections on Religious Life by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, 1983. Used with permission.

Intercessions:

That the Church may be strengthened in her ministry to African-American and Native American peoples, we pray…

That leaders of nations will work for peace with justice in all lands, we pray…

That African-American and Native American peoples will be welcome in the hearts of all people and in communities everywhere, we pray…

That those who are lost or who have been taken from their homeland will find peace and hospitality wherever they go, we pray…

That the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament will know renewed energy and commitment to their mission, inspired by their foundress, Katharine Drexel, we pray…

That those who have died may rest in God’s eternal embrace, we pray…

Closing Prayer:

Ever-loving God, you called Katharine Drexel to share the message of the Gospel and the life of the Eucharist with the poor and oppressed among African and Native American peoples. Through her intercession, may we grow in the faith and love that will enable us to be united as sisters and brothers in you. Inspired by her zeal may we strive for greater unity, justice, and peace. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Closing Prayer from People’s Companion to the Breviary, © 1997 by the Carmelites of Indianapolis. Used with permission.

Women’s Day

March 8

Environment:

Candles, Bible, icon of Mary

Hymn Suggestions:
Blessed is She (Fulmer)
How Could Anyone Ever Tell You (Noll)
I Am Enough (Fulmer)
Woman of God (Roberts)
Just to Be (Fulmer)
Come, Sophia (Roberts)
Sisters Carry On (McDade)

Options:

  • As music plays, call out names of women to be remembered in prayer
  • As music plays, someone reads news headlines celebrating women (involves some
    preparation)
  • Silent reflection on women who have touched your life

Psalm Suggestions:

16; 46; 62; 65; 67 16, 46, 62, 65, 67 Or, pray one of the “Psalms for Women” following this service.

Reading Suggestions:

Mark 7:24–30; Luke 10:38–42; Luke 1:39–56; Mark 5:21–43; Mark 14:3-9

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

My heart sings for joy and overflows with gladness, for Christ is my Savior.

Intercessions:

Response: Hear us, O God.

That the church recognize and affirm the ministry of women, we pray…
That men and women in positions of trust seek justice and peace in all they do, we pray…
That all the sick, especially those suffering alone, experience the love and support of others, we pray…
That women who nurture, teach, sustain and guide, be themselves nurtured and sustained, we pray…
That women everywhere come together to work for peace in the world, we pray…
That all of our sisters and those in initial formation receive blessings and accept the grace of perseverance, we pray…
That all who have died take part gloriously in the resurrection of the body, we pray…

Our Father

Closing Prayer:

O God, we praise you for the multitudes of women, men, young people, and children, who are seeking to be witnesses of peace, trust, and reconciliation throughout the world. In the footsteps of the holy witnesses of all the ages, since Mary and the apostles, to the believers of today, grant us to prepare ourselves inwardly, day after day, to place our trust in the mystery of faith. We ask this through Christ who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.

St. Patrick

March 17

Environment:

Green cloth, small statue of St. Patrick or Celtic cross, flowers or a plant.

Hymn Suggestions:
For the Beauty of the Earth (Kocher)
Come, Worship the Lord (Talbot)
Beatitudes (Ducote)
How Great Thou Art (Hine)
Christ Be Beside Me (BUNESSAN)

Option:

Softly play instrumental Irish background music during reading or intercessions.
The Breastplate of Saint Patrick Recite antiphonally.

I rise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confessions of the Oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I rise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension
Through the strength of his coming for judgment.

I rise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In prayers of ancestors, In predictions of prophets, In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors
In deeds of the righteous.

I rise today
Through the strength of heaven
Light of sun, Radiance of moon
Splendor of fire, Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea, Stability of earth, Firmness of rock.

I rise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life-giving rays,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep dark sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

Christ to shield me this day,
So that there come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I rise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye who sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Translated by Mrs. C.F. Alexander in Celtic Daily Prayer, compiled by Andy Raine and John T. Skinner of the Northumbrian Community. Used with permission.

Reading:

Jeremiah 1:1-9

[Brief pause]

Hymn: “How Great Thou Art” (vs. 1, 2)

Intercessions:

Response: For this we place our hope in you, O God.

That those whose lives are dedicated to bringing the gospel message of justice, peace and reconciliation to other lands will continue to be strengthened by a deep connection to their spiritual roots, we pray…

That we may love and care for the earth, the air and the waters, we pray…
That the peace process in Northern Ireland may be strengthened in justice and with mutual respect for all parties, we pray…
That those who have gone before us in faith are now at rest with you, we pray…

Our Father

Closing Prayer:

Pray together, facing each other with hands raised in blessing. May God the Father who called us together to celebrate the feast of Patrick bless us, protect us, and keep us faithful. Amen

[pause slightly]

May Christ, the Lord, the high King of Heaven be near us at all times and shield us from evil. Amen

[pause]

May the Spirit who is the source of all holiness make us rich like St. Patrick in the love of God’s people. Amen.

[pause]
May Almighty God, three persons in perfect unity, bless us, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Closing Hymn

April

Founders’ Day

Environment

Candle, incense, any congregational historical books available, pictures, illustrations of our founding sisters

Preparation

(Excerpts from “The Tree and the Leaf” page 6, by Sister Jeannette Clare McDonnell, OSF)

“. . . after her husband’s death, in her moment of prayer, Mrs. Bachmann was gradually awakened to an insistent desire to consecrate herself to the Lord. In whatever way, she did not know, but in total consecration. In this period, her spiritual life must have been profoundly deepened as she sank her roots into the redeeming mystery of human suffering, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.

Mrs. Bachmann’s sister, Barbara Boll, had long wished to become a religious; even perhaps to begin a new community. Anna now found this thought more and more appealing. Both women consulted their confessors who encouraged their desires for a deep union with God and a life of service in God’s name. Anna Dorn, a young Franciscan tertiary, strengthened their interest in the
Franciscan way of life.

… John Neumann, saintly bishop of Philadelphia, was gravely concerned
for the life of his immigrant church. In a visit to Rome in 1854, he asked
the Holy Father to approve his inviting European sisters to join him in the Philadelphia apostolates.

You know Pius IX’s answer: “Establish a Franciscan Sisterhood for your people.”

Hymn Suggestions

Prayer of Thanksgiving (Likovich)
Remain As One (Roberts)
By Name I Have Called You (Landry)
Only This I Want (Schutte)
Before The Sun Burned Bright (Schutte)
Servant Song (McGargill)
Reconciling Creation (Likovich, Roberts)

Psalm/Canticle Suggestions

16; 45; 141; 119; Philippians 2 6-11; Ephesians 1:3-10

Antiphons

I beseech you, my cherished Sisters, to become true imitators of Christ Jesus, your Spouse, whom we have chosen above all others.
O, beloved daughters, elevate your hearts to God and let them dwell only on what pertains to God.
May sisterly charity abide with you, and may you all be blessed eternally!

(Letters of Mother Francis Bachmann to Philadelphia from Utica, May 16, 1860)

Reading Suggestions

Philippians 3:7-8; Romans 8:28-30

Gospel Canticle Antiphon (sing/recite)

Remain as one in the Spirit of Love.
Remain as one in the union with God.
And even if all is lost; everything destroyed;
Let us be one heart united in love. (Roberts)

Intercessions

Loving God, you crowned with your blessing the founding spirit of Mother Francis Bachmann, Sr. Bernardine Dorn, and Sr. Margaret Boll. With trust in your loving providence, we pray…

Response: Loving God, hear us.

For the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, and the sisters of our heritage congregations as we strive to live the gospel daily, we pray…

For the goal to live as one in dialogue with the Church, within our governing structures and in relationship with one another as sister, we pray…
For the passion to truly live the gospel, we pray…
For the vision and the strength to put our gifts at the disposal of others, especially women and children, and those who have no voice, we pray…

For the willingness to commit ourselves daily to conversion of heart, contemplation, poverty, and humility, we pray…

Conclusion:

We recommit ourselves to “rebuilding the Church”
by living the passion of the Gospel
in the discerning spirit of our Franciscan charism and tradition.

We are willing to take the necessary risks
to be a healing, compassionate presence in our violent world
especially with women, children, and those who have no voice.

We desire to reflect this commitment
in our dialogue with the entire Church,
in our own governing structures
and in our relationship with one another as sister.

Commitment Statement, General Chapter, 1996
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Background

Today, Good Shepherd Sunday, is a special celebration of World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The worldwide Church invites us to honor all Christian vocations. We are called to be united as one flock under the guidance of our one shepherd, Jesus. By our baptism we are called, chosen, and sent to carry on the mission of Jesus.

Environment

Candle, Bible, fragrant oil or water

Hymn Suggestions

The One Same Spirit (Ward)
We Are Many Parts (Haugen)
The God Who Sends Us Forth (Foley)
Where Two or Three Have Gathered (Ridge)
Mary’s Song (New Britain CM)
Magnificat (Farrell)

Somos El Cuerpo De Cristo/We Are the Body of Christ (Cortez)

Reading Suggestions

Matthew 10:40-42; Luke 6:20-26; 1 John 3:1-2; Colossians 3:12-17

Jeremiah 29:11-14; Isaiah 42:1-7; John 10:11-18;
1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27-31.

Reflect and Share Suggestions

God gives us many gifts and talents to share with others. To what may God be calling you to? How may you best share who you are with others?
General Intercessions Suggestions
Confidently we offer our prayers to our Gracious God:
We join our voices as we respond: Gracious God, hear us.
For our Church leaders, bless them with wisdom and strength to guide your flock, we pray:
For leaders of nations, unite them in their efforts to establish peace and justice, we pray:
For our global community, open minds and hearts to listen and respond to the needs of others, we pray:

For those who are discerning a life choice, guide them and give them support, we pray:
For married couples, single Christians, priests, deacons, brothers and sisters, enrich their lives with love and compassion, we pray:

For what else should we pray:

Our Father

Sending Forth
Leader: May God, our Creator,

All: Bless us with a generous heart.

Amen!

Leader: May Jesus, our Good Shepherd,

All: Protect and guide us on the path of Christian service.

Amen!

Leader: May the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier,

All: Inspire us to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.

Amen!

Concluding Blessing Suggestion

One person starts by dipping his/her thumb in the oil or water and making the sign of the cross on the forehead of the person to his/her left using these words: “I bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Response: “Amen!” Continue around the circle.

Renewal of Franciscan Life

Environment
Symbols of our Franciscan journey, symbols of renewed commitment

Hymn Suggestions
Lift Up Your Hearts (O’Connor)
All My Days (Schutte)
Sing To The Mountains (Dufford)
Prayer of St. Francis (Temple)
Sing A New Song (Schutte)
Blessing of St. Francis (Sr. Bonagratia, OSF)

Call To Prayer

As Franciscan women we look back in gratitude embracing all the blessings that have been ours since we responded to God’s call to follow the Gospel way of life. Together with Jesus, Francis, Clare and all our Franciscan brothers and sisters, we continue our faith journey in hope and a renewed sense of our commitment.

Psalm Suggestions

34; 63; 113; 116

Refrain sung between Psalm verses

My God and My All (Haas)
Center of My Life (Inwood)
Light For Our Eyes (Haas)

Reading Suggestion

Philippians 3:8-14

Response to the Reading

(Quiet reflection and faith sharing)

Each sister will bring to the prayer service something that symbolizes her Franciscan journey and her desire for the renewal of her commitment. Allow time for faith sharing.

Gospel Canticle Antiphon

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all the people.

Litany

Response: Strengthen our commitment to the Gospel life
As we stand in gratitude for all God’s graces…
As we remember those who have inspired us…
As we compassionately embrace the poor…
As we renew our promise to live justly…
As we take steps toward nonviolence…
As we pray for our oppressed brothers and sisters…
Spontaneous prayers…

Our Father

Closing Prayer

Renewal of Commitment to Franciscan Life
All praise be yours, O Lord,
for all creation gives you glory.
All praise be yours, O Lord,
for all good comes from you.
All praise be yours, O Lord,
for you call us to the life of your Risen Son.
Today, we your daughters rededicate ourselves
to the call you have given us.
We renew and profess our commitment
to a Gospel vision of life,
handed on to us by our Father, Francis,
and our Mother, Clare;
and we ask your help to continue to live the life of the Gospel.
with obedience to your Spirit and your Church,
with poverty that imitates the life of your Son and his most
Holy Mother,
and with chastity that frees us to love you
and your people with unmeasured love.
All praise be yours, O Lord.

From ”The Assisi Experience” © Copyright 1996 Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs, Inc. Used with permission.

Closing Hymn

May

First Profession of Anna Bachmann, Barbara Boll, Anna Dorn

Environment

Three lighted candles as a centerpiece with Franciscan symbols: (e.g., San Damiano cross), an unlighted candle for each sister..

Hymn Suggestions

Here I Am (Schutte)
The Cry of the Poor (Foley)
Here I Am (Booth)
Seek Ye First (Lafferty)
I Have Loved You (Joncas)
We Are Called (Haas)
Benedictus/Magnificat My God and My All (Zaragoza)
Sunrise Mantra (Likovich)
Pescador de Hombres/Lord, You Have Come (Gabaráin)
In the Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful (Berthier)

Psalm Suggestions

25, 16, 27, 63, 67, 84, 91, 113, 121, 127, 133, 145, 146

Reading Suggestions

(Excerpt from: “Mother Mary Francis Bachmann and the Founding Years of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis” by Sister Jeanette Clare, O.S.F.)

Thus was their novitiate year spent in the Holy Family Home. In their welfare, the Venerable Bishop exercised great paternal concern, visiting at intervals to encourage and instruct them in those religious principles that he himself observed with heroic virtue. Of his interest in the Sisters of St. Francis, his biographer observes that “he lavished the utmost care” upon them. He received on the 26th of May, 1856, the vows of the three sisters in his private chapel, now an office in the Cathedral building at 18th and Summer Streets. Father Hespelein was present. The words of a member of the Community, now with God, may well recall the event:

“Of earthly splendor there was none at this ceremony. There was nothing of the greatness that might attract the votaries of the world in this little group; but the one great Lord beheld with pleasure their vows registered in the Book of Life; and heavenly melody filled their souls as the first great chapter of their lives as religious closed.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Bishop Neumann handed Mother Francis a Rule of Life, written in his own hand, a copy of which is still preserved in the archives of the community. He said to them not without prophecy: “Take this rule, which is small in form, but which, if faithfully adhered to, will lead to great ends.”

Response

Each sister now holds a lighted candle and expresses her vowed commitment by using the vow formula or a spontaneous commitment statement.

Reflection

Taken from the words of Mother Francis

All:
“Sunrise Mantra” (Andrea Likovich, OSF)

Reader 1: “God knows how much I love you. Oh that I had the happiness to live with you as well as all the others. United with so many good sisters where each one incites the others to serve the Lord always better and to love Him more intensely.”

[pause]

Reader 2: “Oh dearest Sisters, let us raise our eyes to heaven and there contemplate God with love; then let us descend to earth and in holy obedience perform our assigned duties, thus imitating both Martha and Mary.”

Response: “Sunrise Mantra”

Reader 3: “Oh, beloved daughters, elevate your hearts to God, and let them dwell only on what pertains to Him. . . . I beseech you, my cherished Sisters, to become true imitators of Christ Jesus, our Spouse, whom we have chosen above all others.”

[pause]

Reader 4: “In the name of God, my dear Sisters, confide all your care to Divine Providence. God is our Lord, our Savior. If we dismiss all care, faithfully fulfill our mission, and confidently depend on God, we will happily experience God’s promise. I beseech you earnestly, Sisters, to endeavor by untiring effort endorsed by good example, to magnify the honor of God, to spread the holiness of Christ, and thereby to glorify his holy name.

Response: “Sunrise Mantra”

Gospel Canticle: Sing

Litany:

Individuals read/All respond: Pray for us.

Leader: Let us remember the heroic ones who have journeyed before us:

Ruth and Naomi
Women of strength and devotion, attentive and loyal to each other, we need your deep loyalty and faithfulness. Strengthen us to live as sisters to all…

Mary of Nazareth
Mother of Jesus, woman of incredible faith, first priest of the New Testament; keep offering us Jesus…

Francis and Clare
Lovers of Jesus, who embrace all, seeking always conversion and passion for God; minstrel of joy and womb of contemplation, teach us to simply dance freely before God…

Anna Marie Bachmann
Woman of simple prayer and inner strength, joyfully trusting in God’s Providence, faithfully encouraging your sisters to remain one in heart, inflame in us a deep desire for God…

Jesus
Word of heaven, making flesh your home, calling us to full Gospel living, washing our feet in loving service, promising not to leave us orphans, fill us with the Spirit you promised…

Our Father

Concluding Prayer And Blessing

Leader: As professed Franciscan women in the Church, let us pray for God’s blessing:

Side 1: May the Lord bless you.
Side 2: What you hold may you always hold.
Side 1: May the Lord protect you.
Side 2: What you do may you always do and never abandon.
Side 1: May the Lord be merciful to you.

Memorial Day Prayer Service

Environment: American flag, flowers, Bible

Hymn Suggestions:

Amazing Grace (NEW BRITAIN)
America (Smith)
America the Beautiful (Bates, Ward)
Eternal Father, Strong to Save (MELITA)
For the Healing (ST. THOMAS)
God Bless America (Berlin)
God of Day and God of Darkness (BEACH SPRING)
God of Our Fathers (NATIONAL HYMN)
Let There Be Peace on Earth (Miller, Jackson)
Lover of Us All (Schutte)
This Is My Song (FINLANDIA)

Opening Prayer

Spirit of Life
whom we have called by many names
in thanksgiving and in anguish—

Bless the poets and those who mourn.
Send peace for the soldiers who did not make the wars
but whose lives were consumed by them

Let strong trees grow above graves far from home
Breathe through the arms of their branches
The earth will swallow your tears while the dead sing
“No more, never again, remember me.”

For the wounded ones, and those who received them back,
let there be someone ready when the memories come
when the scars pull and the buried metal moves
and forgiveness for those of us who were not there
for our ignorance.

And in us, veterans in a forest of a thousand fallen promises,
let new leaves of protest grow on our stumps.

Give us courage to answer the cry of humanity’s pain
And with our bare hands, out of full hearts,
with all our intelligence
let us create the peace.

“Memorial Day Prayer” by Barbara Pescan in Morning Watch published by Skinner House Books 1999 and on http://www.uua.org/worshipweb/meditations/pescanbj-prayer01.html

Hymn

Psalm 34
Antiphon: As they announce peace with their lips, let them be careful to have it even more within their own hearts. (TOR Rule IX, 30)

I will bless Yahweh at all times;
praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall rejoice in Yahweh,
let the humble hear it and be glad.

Magnify Yahweh with me
and let us exalt God’s name together.
I sought Yahweh who answered me,
and freed me from all my fears.

They looked to Yahweh and were radiant;
their faces not put to shame.
The poor called,
Yahweh heard and saved them out of all their troubles.
The angel of Yahweh encamps
around those who revere God and rescues them.

O taste and see that Yahweh is good;
blessed are those who trust in God.
Revere Yahweh, you saints,
for there is no lack to those who revere God.
The young lions do need and suffer hunger
but those who seek Yahweh shall lack nothing good.

Come sons and daughters, listen to me,
I will teach you reverence for Yahweh.
Which of you wants to live to the full,
who loves long life and enjoyment of prosperity?

Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit;
turn away from evil and practice good;
seek peace and keep after it.

The eyes of Yahweh are toward the righteous,
and God’s ears open to their cry,
The face of Yahweh is against the evildoers;
to root up their memory from of the earth.

The righteous cried,
Yahweh heard and saved them out of all their troubles.
Yahweh is close to the brokenhearted,
and rescues those whose spirit is crushed.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous;
but out of them all Yahweh delivers them.
Yahweh protects their very bones;
not one of them is broken.

Calamity shall slay the wicked
and the haters of the righteous shall be penalized.
Yahweh redeems those who serve,
all those taking refuge in God shall go free.

Glory . . .

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Reading: Ephesians 1:15-20 or Matthew 5:7-10

Response: Pray together.
Lead us from death to life,
from falsehood to truth,
from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Let peace fill our hearts,
our homes, our world, our universe.
Let us dream together,
pray together,
work together,
to build one world
of peace and justice for all — anonymous

Intercessory Prayer:
Leader: Let us call to mind and name those individuals who have served their country in times of war and have died doing so. . . .

Our Father . . .

Concluding Prayer:
Compassionate One, lover of all nations and people, on this weekend when we remember and honor those who have been killed in our nation’s wars, we are confronted anew with issues of peacemaking in our time. We see how violence and war are taking many forms, fueled by religious intolerance, historical hatreds and divisions, poverty and powerlessness, and by our self-righteousness and fear. Still our spirits long for another way. Receive our prayers of intercession for all those places where hostilities rage from within and without, and for all who need love and healing. Amen. (www.seekerschurch.org, Memorial Day 1999)

June

Summer

Environment:

Bowl of fruit, water, flowers, blooming plants, things that show growth reaching fruitfulness

Leader:
The summer brings us light and warmth that help to bring forth the fruits of the earth. The summer for many of us brings rest, relaxation, retreat, vacation, that hopefully brings forth fruit in ourselves, in our communities, and in our ministry. Today we are invited to spend some time reflecting on the fruits that have been produced this summer in our lives or the fruits we would like to produce during the summer that we are enjoying at this moment.

Hymn Suggestions:
All Good Gifts (Keil)
Canticle of the Sun (Haugen)
For the Beauty of the Earth (DIX)
For the Fruits of This Creation (AR HYD Y NOS)
Give Thanks to the Lord (Schutte)
How Great Thou Art (Hine)
Let All Things Now Living (ASH GROVE)
Parable (Ridge)
Sing, O Sing (Schutte)
Table of Plenty (Schutte)
We Have Been Told (Haas)
Any song that speaks of growth and fruitfulness

Reader One:
Speak an allegory to the house of Israel. Say: Thus says the Lord God:
A great eagle, with great wings and long pinions,
rich in plumage of many colors, came to Lebanon.
He took the top of the cedar, broke off its topmost shoot;
he carried it to a land of trade, set it in a city of merchants.
Then he took a seed from the land, placed it in fertile soil;
a plant by abundant waters, he set it like a willow twig.
It sprouted and became a vine spreading out, but low;
its branches turned toward him, its roots remained where it stood.
So it became a vine; it brought forth branches, put forth foliage.

There was another great eagle, with great wings and much plumage.
And see! This vine stretched out its roots toward him;
it shot out its branches toward him, so that he might water it.
From the bed where it was planted it was transplanted
to good soil by abundant waters, so that it might produce branches
and bear fruit and become a noble vine. (Ezekiel: 17:2-8)

All: They are like trees planted by streams of water that yield fruit in due season. (Ps.1:3)

Reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Reader Two:
And Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:13–20)

All: They are like trees planted by streams of water that yield fruit in due season. (Ps.1:3)

Reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Reflection and Sharing:
What fruits have you grown or would you like to grow this summer?
In yourself?
In community?
In your ministry?

Each person is invited to take something from the environment that will remind them of the fruit that has come or that they desire to produce.

Our Father

Sign of Peace

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Prayer Service in Memory of the Death of Mother Francis Bachmann

ENVIRONMENT:

Bible, Rule Book, San Damiano cross, picture of Mother Francis, flowers, candles

Leader:

Just as Mary was to the early church and Clare was to her sisters, so Mother Francis Bachmann is to us.

Maria Anna was born in Wenigumstadt, Bavaria, on November 14, 1824, to Johann Wilhelm (John) and Magdalena Knegel Boll, who welcomed their fourth child with much joy. Through her parents, God graced the world with a great gift. Who would have known that more than 180 years later Maria Anna’s birth would give spiritual life to so many more!

In her short eight years as spiritual leader of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Mother Francis left her daughters a heritage enriched by loving guidance and example. Mother Francis’ letters and admonitions enhanced her efforts to lead her sisters as an encouraging mother. Now we are invited to faithfulness and a new life by following her message to “Remain as one in the spirit of love, in union with God.”

Although separated from all family members and suffering from tuberculosis, Mother Francis knew peace at the time of her death because she joyously embraced God’s will.

All: Inflame in us a deep desire for God.

Pause briefly.

Leader:

As we have asked of Francis and Clare but too often have neglected to ask of you

All: Walk with us; we seek to know you, woman of faith . . . Maria Anna . . . Mother Francis.

Pause briefly.

HYMN: “My God and My All” – Rufino Zaragoza, OFM

READING:

An excerpt from Resource Book: Mother Francis Bachmann (Reading is to be proclaimed deliberately.)

Mother Francis died at 10:30 a.m. on June 30, 1863. It was the duty of Sister Agnes Bucher to notify relatives, friends, and church officials of the death as she was apparently the person next in charge. On that same day, she wrote to the sisters of the Syracuse foundation:

My dear Sister Bernardine,

It is with great sorrow that I am notifying you of our Mother Francis’ passing into eternal life on June 30 in the morning at 10:30. I am unable to describe the beautiful, peaceful death of Mother. Yes, we believe she died as a saint. Her longing for death was very strong. She had little pain, possessed great patience and was fully resigned to God’s holy will. Mother was conscious to the end. She was an example to all of us. Had we only such blessings to die such a peaceful death! It was sad but at the same time joyful to see our dear mother go to eternity. Our dear Lord blessed her in a special way. The Redemptorist Fathers visited her frequently during her illness. Weekly she received Holy communion three or four times. Her confessor and all her sisters were with her during her last hour and prayed continuously. We beg you to pray for her too. If she is in heaven, she will pray for you.

Best wishes for you all. I remain always your loving sister in the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart.

Sister M. Agnes

EXCERPTS FROM ADMONITIONS AND LETTERS OF MOTHER FRANCIS:

Statements are read by different persons. After each statement, all sing the refrain of “I Have Loved You” and then pause slightly.

“Solely for God must be our motto.”
“Holy poverty is our wealth . . . so I beg you, my dear sisters, use all your energy to be faithful to holy poverty.”
“O, beloved daughters, elevate your hearts to God and let them dwell only on what pertains to God.”
“Let us exalt in the great privilege accorded us in the gift of our holy vocation.”
“As long as God does not stop giving to us, we shall not stop giving to the poor.”
“I care little if I have many sisters; but it is important to me to have good and faithful sisters.”
Leader: Together, let us pray the prayer that Jesus taught us. Our Father…

CLOSING PRAYER:

All pray together.

Eternal God, you inspired Mother Francis Bachmann to serve you in fidelity and to remain open to the prompting of the Spirit at work in her life. Keep us open to the working of the Spirit in our lives, and with Mother Francis may we praise you forever. Amen.

CONCLUDING HYMN: “Lift Up Your Hearts” – Roc O’Connor, SJ

July

Independence Day

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [men] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness….”

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription .U.S. National Archives and Records Administration 8601, Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001.

Song: “America, the Beautiful” (MATERNA, Bates)

Psalm 67

God, show kindness and bless us,
and make your face smile on us!
For then the earth will acknowledge your ways
and all the nations will know of your power to save.

Let the nations praise you, O God.
let all the nations praise you!

Let the nations shout and sing for joy,
since you dispense true justice to the world
you dispense strict justice to the peoples,
on earth you rule the nations.

Let the nations praise you, God,
let all the nations praise you!

The soil has given its harvest,
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God bless us, and let god be feared
to the very ends of the earth.

Glory . . .

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Prayer:
God, you have blessed our country and our land with abundant gifts. But gifts given are meant to be shared. Help us, as a nation, to be generous in our concern for others and to live gratefully for all the blessings we have to share. This we ask you, Most High, in the unity of the Holy Spirit and in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Kateri Tekakwitha

Environment:

Symbols of the elements: rocks, plants, a bowl of water, a feather, candles, Native American artwork or icons.

Hymn Suggestions:

God of Day and God of Darkness (Haugen)
Prayer for Peace (Haas)
Sing Out, Earth and Skies (Haugen)
Canticle of the Sun (Haugen)
Gospel Canticle (any version)

Psalm/Canticle Suggestions:

8; 16; 46; 63; 65; 117; 141; 148; Judith 16 2-3a, 13-15; Daniel 3 56-88

Reading:

“The great chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. How can you buy or sell the sky? The warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. Yet we do not own the freshness of the air or the sparkle of the water. How can you buy them from us? Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every crane, and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people.”

(Excerpt from a letter to the President of the United States by Chief Seattle, 1854)

Response:

After each invocation, all respond: Forgive us, we pray.
For the unjust treatment of Native American peoples . . .
For the relocation of Native American peoples to satisfy greed . . .
For treaties made and then broken . . .
For the slaughter of innocent Native American people . . .
For our disrespect of Native American peoples and their lands . . .

Gospel Canticle:

May our bodies, our minds, our spirits learn a new rhythm paced by the rhythmic pulse of the whole created order.

Copyright © 1997 by the Carmelites of Indianapolis. Carmelite monastery. 2500 Cold Spring Road, Indianapolis, IN 46222. Used with permission.

Intercessions:

Response: God of all nations, hear us.

For the wisdom to respect and care for all our natural resources, we pray . . .

For the grace for each of us to make wise choices in protection of the environment and all the species with whom we share this planet, we pray . . .

For those whose way of life is respectful of all creatures, rocks, plants, and all the elements of the earth, we pray . . .

For the vision and love to respect and honor all peoples, especially those indigenous to our lands, we pray . . .

Closing Prayer:

O God, we have sinned against you in the oppression of the people who, before us, lived in this country and cared for it. Forgive the blindness of our past and enable us to atone for our guilt by restoring the rights of all people to live on their land in peace and with dignity. We ask this for the sake of all people who died because of our greed, and in the name of Jesus who brought us your forgiveness. Amen

Copyright © 1997 by the Carmelites of Indianapolis. Carmelite monastery. 2500 Cold Spring Road, Indianapolis, IN 46222. Used with permission.

Mary of Magdala: Apostle to the Apostles

Environment:

Scatter various candles, some roses or other flowers.

Hymn Suggestions:
God Has Chosen Me (Farrell)
In Perfect Charity (DeBruyn)
What Wondrous Love is This (Walker)
All I Ask of You (Norbet)
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (Prichard)
There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy (IN BABILONE)

Psalm/Canticle Suggestions:
111; 113; 116; Song of Songs 3:1-4; 4:9-16; Philippians 2:6-11

Reading Suggestions:
John 20:1-18; Luke 24:1-12; Mark 16:9-16

Response:
Ubi Caritas (Rosania)

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:
My heart burns within me; I long to see my Lord; I look for him, but I cannot find where they have put him, alleluia.

Intercessions:

Response: Gracious God, hear our prayer.
For the Church and all who minister in it, we pray. . .
For those who are sent to announce the Good News of salvation, we pray. . .
For the reign of justice and love in all lands, fostered by all nations, we pray. . .
For women whose call to ministry has been curtailed by others, we pray. . .
For those who are resistant to listen to the voice of women, we pray. . .
For the sick, lonely, depressed and oppressed, we pray. . .

Our Father

Closing Prayer:
Holy One of love and compassion, just as you called Mary of Magdala, you also call us by our baptism to go forth and tell the Good News. We answer you as people who are often unsure of our desire to be so embraced. Guide us closer to you and to each other. Strengthen us in our baptismal vocations. Build us into the reign of God, and seal us with the Spirit of your promise. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our teacher and our Lord. Amen.
Closing Prayer used with permission of Future Church, 15800 Montrose Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44111, 216-228-0869, www.futurechurch.org.

August

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Memorial Service

Environment:

Place a bowl with water in the center of the prayer area.

Opening Reading:

August 6 – 9, 1945: More than 200,000 people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki lay dead from the use of the first atomic bombs. Since August 1945, many thousands more have died, and continue to die, from the radioactive fallout of the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Reflection: Silent

Response:

Earth cries out – and now I lie pockmarked with craters, which run deep into the very core of my being, eternal stigmas bearing witness to your death machines

And millions of people lie dead, their life’s breath extinguished.

In Hiroshima, in Nagasaki, hundreds of thousands unable to be laid to rest in my bosom. I could not embrace them!

My people, I longed to gather you to myself, to shield you, to protect you.
But all that remained of your humanity was a black charred mass.

Reprinted with permission by Pax Christi USA, national Catholic peace movement, www.paxchirstiusa.org. Used with permission.

Litany of Remembrance & Peace

Reader:

On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb test, code-named “Trinity,” took place in an area of desert in New Mexico called “Jornada del Muerto” – Journey of Death. “We knew the world would not be the same,” recalled J. Robert Oppenheimer, chief scientist of the Manhattan Project which developed the world’s first atomic bomb. As he witnessed the first atomic test, Oppenheimer remembered the line from the Hindu Scripture, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Hiroshima and Nagasaki, three weeks later, foretold the world that we know and the society that we’ve become.

Response: We remember… we cry out for peace.

Reader:

On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima. The thermal flash and blast started fires that very quickly became a firestorm until the whole city was ablaze. Birds ignited in midair. People ran to the rivers to escape and soon the river became not a stream of flowing water but a stream of drifting dead bodies. Despite every horrifying statistic of violence and war we’ve ever heard, the account, statistics, and memory of that day 60 years ago are still devastating. Sixty percent of the city was destroyed -hospitals, hotels, rail stations, temples, factories, houses, and scores of other buildings reduced to flaming rubble. The next morning the sun rose and revealed the dawning of the nuclear age. Where the city once stood, was a wasteland of ashes and ruin.

Response: We remember…we cry out for peace.

Reader:

In every war lies the threat of another Hiroshima or Nagasaki. On this, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the victims of the nuclear age and 59 years of war-making and nuclear weapons, cry out for peace and an end to the business of war. In memory of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we pray and act for peace and a future worthy of our hopes and the hopes and dreams of future generations.

All: We remember…we cry out for peace.

Adapted with permission from the August 9 commemoration in front of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, sponsored by the Brandywine Peace Community and Catholic Peace Fellowship.

Reflection: Silent

Response: Revelation 21: 4-5

Ritual: As A sign of our belief in peace and justice, and our belief that new life will flow, come forward and dip your hand into the water. Bless yourself and pray for our Earth, the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all people of the many countries where bombs are exploding daily.

Ritual adapted with permission by Pax Christi USA, national Catholic peace movement, www.paxchirstiusa.org. Used with permission.

Closing Prayer: “Prayer for Peace” John Paul II

Great and merciful God, Lord of peace and life,
You have plans for peace, and not affliction.
You condemn wars and defeat the pride of the violent.

You sent your son Jesus to preach peace to those near and far, to gather people of every race and nation into a single family. Hear the single-hearted cry of all humanity: NO MORE WAR, a spiral of death and violence, a threat against all your creatures in heaven, on earth and in the sea.

In communion with Mary, the Mother of Jesus,
Once again we implore you:
Speak to the hearts of those responsible for the fate of peoples, stop the ‘logic” of revenge and retaliation,
with your Spirit suggest new solutions, generous and honorable gestures, room for dialogue and patient waiting
which are more fruitful than the hurried deadlines of war.

AMEN

Concluding Hymn: “God of Day and God of Darkness” vs 4-5

Vow Renewal Day

Environment: Prayer candle

Hymn Suggestions:
For You Are My God (Foley)
My God and My All (Zargoza)
One Spirit, One Church (Keil)
Earthen Vessels (Foley)
Now We Remain (Haas)
We Walk By Faith (Haugen)
Only This I Want (Schutte)
Center of My Life (Inwood)
Magnificat (Haas)
Remain As One (Roberts)
Praises of God (Likovich)
Let Us Adore the Lord (Talbot)
Clare’s Blessing (Roberts)
Lord Whose Love in Humble Service
(HOLY MANNA)

Psalm Suggestions:

116:12-19; 123; 125; 131; 139:1-12

Reading Suggestions:

Appropriate in whole or in part are:

Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Francis Philadelphia: “The Call and the Response,” Chapter 1
“Later Admonition and Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance” The Second Version of St. Francis Letter to the Faithful: # 19-21; # 47-53
(As found in Francis Of Assisi, Early Documents: The Saint. Volume I)

Excerpts from the Writings of Mother Francis.

Response Suggestions:

1. Let us love and adore God with a pure heart and a pure
mind—Let us love…

And let us praise God and pray to the Holy One day and
night… with a pure heart…

Glory to You, Source of All Being, Eternal Word and Holy
Spirit—Let us love…

2. A sung response such as John Michael Talbot’s “Let us
Adore the Lord.”

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

Holy Virgin Mary, among the women born into the world, there is no one like you. Daughter and servant of the most high and supreme King and of the Father in heaven, Mother o our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us.

Excerpt from “The Office of the Passion,” page 141 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

Intercessions:

Response: My God and my All

That we may be peacemakers in our places of work, in our homes, and with all whom we serve, we pray …
That we who have chosen the vowed life may witness to God’s love by giving generously of ourselves, we pray …
That we may live in hope as we plan for the future of the congregation, we pray …
That all our members may cherish the heritage that is ours carrying it forward into the future, we pray …
That those sisters who have gone before us may enjoy the presence of God, we pray …

Closing Prayer Suggestions:

Almighty, eternal, just, and merciful God, give us miserable ones the grace to do for You alone what we know you want us to do and always to desire what pleases You. Inwardly cleansed, interiorly enlightened and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit may we be able to follow in the footprints of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and, by your grace alone, may we make our way to You, Most High, Who live and rule in perfect Trinity and simple Unity, and are glorified God almighty, forever and ever. Amen.

Excerpt from “The Letter to the Entire Order,” page 121 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

“Clare’s Blessing” (Roberts)

Feast of St. Clare

Environment:

Bible, picture or statue of St. Clare, grapes, wheat or any symbols of Eucharist, real flowers, wool, spools, or any symbols of spinning, small, beautiful altar linens

Hymn Suggestions:

Canticle of the Sun (Haugen)
Clare’s Blessing (Roberts)
Only This I Want (Schutte)

Psalm/Canticle Suggestions:

113; 122; 127; 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-10

Antiphons:

We are greatly bound to bless and praise God and to be strengthened more and more to do good in the Lord. (Testament of Clare, 22)
Loving one another with the love of Christ, may you demonstrate without in your deeds the love you have within so that, compelled by such an example, the sisters may always grow in the love of God and in mutual charity. (Testament of Clare, 59-60)
I bless you during my life and after my death, as I am able, out of all the blessings, with which the Father of mercies has blessed and will bless His sons and daughters in heaven and on earth and a spiritual father and mother have blessed and will bless their spiritual sons and daughters. (Blessing of St. Clare 11-13)
Reading 1: Song of Songs 6:2; 8:6-7

Response:

Always be lovers of God and your souls and those of all your sisters. And may you always be eager to observe what you have promised the Lord. (Blessing of St. Clare, 14)

Reading 2:

Be very joyful and glad, filled with a remarkable happiness and a spiritual joy! [Progress] from good to better, from virtue to virtue, so that He Whom You serve with the total desire of Your soul may bestow on You the reward for which You so long. (Blessing of St. Clare, 21, 32)

Response:

Always be lovers of God and your souls and those of all your sisters. And may you always be eager to observe what you have promised the Lord. (Blessing of St. Clare, 14)

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

Clare, through contemplation, poverty, and loving service, offered her life to her Beloved Lord.

Intercessions:

Response: Lover of our souls, hear us.
For followers of Clare throughout the world, that we become true lovers of prayer, we pray…
For those who follow the example of Clare within cloistered communities, we pray…
For followers of Clare and Francis who have made the world their cloister, we pray…
For those who imitate Clare’s love for poverty through simple lifestyle, we pray…
For the living and deceased Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Franciscan Sisters of Ringwood, and sisters of the heritage congregations, we pray…

Our Father

Closing Prayer:

O God, through the preaching of Francis, your daughter Clare, a woman of noble birth, embraced a life of total poverty. Trusting solely on the generosity of others and holy providence, she and her followers found happiness in austerity. Bless all throughout the world who have embraced her spirit. May they continue to be a sign of your loving care and may all who follow your gospel know the gift of true simplicity and poverty of mind and heart. We ask this in the name of the poor Christ who first showed us the way. Amen.

Excerpts from Clare of Assisi: The Lady. Revised edition and translation by Regis J. Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap. New York: New City Press, 2006. Used with permission.

Closing Prayer from People’s Companion to the Breviary © 1997 by The Carmelites of Indianapolis. Used with permission.

September

Fall / Harvest and Sharing

Environment:

prayer table that includes symbols of harvesting and sharing

Leader:
“As long as the world endures, seedtime and harvest shall not cease.” (Gen. 8:22) Spring seems to be that time for planting and summer for watching what was planted grow into full bloom and rich fruit. Now as fall comes, it is time to harvest what has been growing, to be thankful for the harvest, and to generously share the fruits.

Hymn Suggestions:
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come (ST. GEORGE’S WINDSOR)
For the Fruits of this Creation (AR HYD Y NOS)
For the Beauty of the Earth (DIX)
Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens (HYMN TO JOY)
Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow (OLD HUNDRETH)
Any hymn that has to do with harvesting, being grateful or sharing

Reader One:
This blessed man had begun his course under the illustrious Lord Pope Innocent III, and he happily completed it under his successor, Honorius. Just as the former, as has been said above, agreed with the man of God in all things concerning the institution of the Order, so did the latter, as is touched upon in the Rule, later kindly confirm all things for the same saint. They were happily succeeded by the Lord Pope Gregory, who, of course, while established in a lesser office, had defended the planting of this same religious Order from the out-of-season onslaught of those plucking it. He had nourished it until it took root more firmly, and just like a faithful gardener had encouraged it to a manifold harvest, with the help of God.

From “The Life of St. Francis,” by Julian of Speyer, page 418, XIII, #2 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

All: “As long as the world endures, seedtime and harvest shall not cease.” (Gen. 8:22)

Reader Two:
“Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4:35–38)

All “As long as the world endures, seedtime and harvest shall not cease.” (Gen. 8:22)

Reader Three:
Jesus also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

All “As long as the world endures, seedtime and harvest shall not cease.” (Gen. 8:22)

Reader Four:
cornstalks once tall and green
are now brown, dried, surrendered,
ears of corn with full kernels
shaped and turned golden
in a summer of sunshine and rain.
they fill to fullness wide wagons,
falling now into tall round bins,
copious in their generosity
abundant in unrestrained harvest.

this plentitude of the land
signals my own gathering of grain
as I turn to the bounty
found in the field o my heart.

all those daily gifts
that grace my humble path,
come tumbling forth,
like a corn harvest
of golden goodness.

they are my bin-full
my thanksgiving treasure,
my wide wagon of richness.
they are my sureness
that the gold of the harvest
still hurrahs.

“Thanksgiving” excerpted from page 214 of Out of the Ordinary by Joyce Rupp, © 2000. Used with permission from the publisher, Ave Maria Press. Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, www.avemariapress.com.

Reflection and Sharing:
Which of the readings speak to you or your harvesting at this time? What symbol would express these thoughts?

Leader:
As long as the world exists there will be a time for planting and a time for harvest. May our harvesting be in union with the master planter. May our hearts be grateful for all that God has brought to fruition and harvested within us, personally, in community and in our ministry.

Hymn of Gratitude:
Use option from above or another song that speaks of your reflections.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Stigmata of St. Francis

Environment:

Bible, San Damiano Crucifix, statue of St. Francis, candles, rocks.

Hymn Suggestions:

Come,Worship the Lord (Talbot)
Only This I Want (Schutte)
Jesus, Remember Me (Berthier)
Lift Up Your Hearts (O’Connor)
All I Ask of You (Norbet)
The Praises of God (Likovich)
My God and My All (Zaragoza)
Turn To Me (Foley)
Earthen Vessels (Foley)
How Great Thou Art (Hine)

Opening Prayer:

The Prayer Before the Crucifix

Most High
glorious God
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me
true faith
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out Your holy and true command.

From page 40, Francis of Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

Psalm Suggestions:

15; 51; 92; 112

Reading Suggestions:

Galatians 6:14, 17-18; Romans 6:4-6; 6:8-11; Thomas of Celano

Interiorizing the significance of the gift given to Francis:

As the music is playing, take turns holding the crucifix reverencing it in some manner and silently contemplating Christ’s suffering. If you feel comfortable doing so, pray aloud as the Spirit moves you or write your response in your journal.

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

Lord, Jesus Christ, you signed your servant Francis with the marks of our redemption.

Intercessions:

Response: Lord, hear our prayer.
For church leaders and all members of the church to always remember the way of the cross as well as the triumph of the resurrection, we pray…
For all who follow the example of Francis, who taught us to glory in the cross of Jesus, we pray…
For reconciliation and lasting peace for all nations, we pray…
For our sisters and brothers who are poor or hungry or homeless, we pray…
For the grace to see the face of Jesus in those we serve, as did Francis, we pray…
For all of us gathered here, and for our whole community, that God’s presence among us be more clearly seen, we pray…
For the grace to share the love of Jesus with all others, we pray…

Closing Prayer:

The Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
n heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather, through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

From pp. 113-114 “The Writings of Francis of Assisi” in Francis of Assisi: Vol. 1, The Saint, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM> New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

October

The Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi

Preparations:

In the gathering space, there is a San Damiano Crucifix prominently displayed along with a Bible or Book of the Gospels and a stand on which a large candle can be placed. Additional candles, flowers etc. may be strategically placed to create a festive environment. Hymns listed can be changed as needed. A leader, narrator, reader and candle bearer are needed. If desired, there can be several narrators.

Hymn Suggestions:
In a Dream (Hutmacher)
Seek Ye First (Laferty)
Remember Your Love (Ducote)
Shepherd Me, O God (Haugen)
Jesus Remember Me (Berthier)
Prayer for Guidance (Talbot)
Blessed Are They (Haas)
Those Who See Light (Elze)
Open My Eyes, Lord (Manibusan)
In Perfect Charity (Debruyn)
Praise and Thanksgiving (Zaragoza)
Canticle of the Sun (Haugen)
God of Day and God of Darkness (BEACH SPRING)

Story of the Death of St. Francis:

Sources for alternate readings:

The Life of Saint Francis by Thomas of Celano (was called 1 CELANO),
The Second Book, Chapters VIII and IX, pp. 277-284
The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul by Thomas of Celano (was called 2 CELANO), The Second Book, Chapters CLXII and CLXIII, pp. 387 ff.
Bonaventure’s Major Life, Chapter XIV
Bonaventure’s Minor Life, Chapter VII
The Assisi Compilation (was called Legend of Perugia), #4-8, 11-14
Reflection and Sharing:

This segment can include or be replaced by a homily/reflection. See below.**

Leader: From the earliest days of the Franciscan Order, the followers of St. Francis have gathered on the anniversary of his death to celebrate his transitus, that is, St. Francis’ passage from earthly life into everlasting life. Here in this place, we, too, gather to celebrate the light which Francis was to his world. But, this celebration is not only a memorial, a remembering of one who has gone before us. It is also a celebration of the spirit of Francis in our midst today, in each of us. This is a time when we, inspired by Francis, consider how we can be light for our world.

Hymn: In a Dream (Hutmacher)
During the hymn, the candle bearer carries a large lighted candle symbolizing the light of St. Francis’ life to the candle stand.

Narrators: The Story of the Death of St. Francis
Given as numbers 1, 2, 3 on page 5 of this service or from an alternate reading.

Reading: John 13: 1-17

Narrators: Continuation of the Story of the Death of St. Francis – See numbers 4 and 5 below.

Response: Psalm 142. Pray antiphonally.
With all my voice I cry to you, Yahweh;
with all my voice I entreat you.
I pour out my complaint before you;
I tell you all my distress.

When my spirit faints within me,
you, Yahweh, know my path.
On the way where I shall walk
they have hidden a snare to trap me.

I look on my right and see:
there is no one who takes my part.
I have lost all means of escape,
there is no one who cares for my life.

I cry to you, Yahweh,
I have said: “You are my refuge,
all I have in the land of the living.”
Listen, then, to my cry,
for I am in the depths of distress.

Rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
Bring my soul out of this prison,
and then I shall praise your name.
Around me the just will gather
because of your goodness to me.

Glory . . .

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF, and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Leader: In John’s Gospel we heard Jesus’ words, “What I just did was to give you an example: as I have done, so you must do.” St. Francis has told us, “I have done what is mine to do. May Christ teach you what is yours.” Take time to consider these mandates. How has my life changed since I met Francis? Who is St. Francis for me?
After some time for quiet reflection, take a few moments to share what you wish of your reflection with the person next to you. At the conclusion of the sharing, we will light candles as a sign of Christ’s light, passed on through Francis, now shining in us. When all the candles are lit, we will remain seated and sing.

Hymn: Blest Are They (Haas)

Intercessions: All stand.

Response:
Merciful One, hear our prayer.
That Christians of every culture, race, and nation joyfully bring the gospel
to the whole world, we pray…
That all of us as followers of Christ, show compassion to people who are poor or suffering, we pray…
That those who serve the common good, elected officials and public servants, might serve in wisdom and love, we pray…
That all who work, nurture, teach, sustain and guide may recognize the good they do, and be themselves nurtured and sustained, we pray…
That all of us who are called to prayer and contemplation find refreshment, wonder and transformation in the experience, we pray…

Leader: Loving and Merciful God, you have gifted your mystical body with the life of Francis, a light for us on our journey to you. Continue to pour out your Spirit on all creation, reconciling all in love and in the peace which you promised us. We ask this in your name. Amen.

Leader: As a sign of the blessing and peace we are for each other, let us extend our hand in blessing and pray…

All: May God bless and protect you,
May God look on you with mercy,
May God give you peace.

Leader: Let us offer each other a sign of that peace.
After a sign of peace is exchanged, the leader concludes…

Leader: In the footsteps of Christ, Francis did what was his to do. Let us
celebrate this gift and go forth in the footsteps of Francis, to do what
is ours!

Hymn: God of Day and God of Darkness (BEACH SPRING)

The Story of the Death of St. Francis

Narrators:

While he was staying in the palace of the Bishop of Assisi, blessed Francis, realizing that he was getting sicker by the day, had himself carried on a litter to the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. For he wished to give back his soul to God in that place where, as has been said, he first knew the way of truth perfectly. (From #5, p. 120 of “The Assisi Compilation” in Francis of Assisi, Vol. 2: The Founder.)
Although racked with sickness, blessed Francis praised God with great fervor of spirit and joy of body and soul, and told him: “If I am to die soon, call Brother Angelo and Brother Leo that they may sing to me about Sister Death.” Those brothers came to him, and, with many tears, sang the Canticle of Brother Sun and the other creatures of the Lord, which the Saint himself had composed in his illness for the praise of the Lord and the consolation of his own soul and that of others. (From #7, p. 121 of “The Assisi Compilation” in Francis of Assisi, Vol. 2: The Founder.
As the brothers shed bitter tears and wept inconsolably, the holy father had bread brought to him. He blessed and broke it, and gave each of them a piece to eat. He also ordered a Book of the Gospels to be brought and asked that the Gospel according to Saint John be read to him starting from that place which begins: Before the feat of Passover. He was remembering that most sacred Supper, the last one the Lord celebrated with his disciples. In reverent memory of this, to show his brothers how much he loved them, he did all of this. (From Chapter CLXIII, p. 387 of “The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul” by Thomas of Celano, The Second Book
The few days that remained to him before his passing he spent in praise of God, teaching his beloved companions how to praise Christ with him. As best he could, he broke out in this psalm, With my voice I cried to the Lord. With my voice I beseeched the Lord. He also invited all creatures to the praise of God . . . Even death itself, terrible and hateful to everyone, he exhorted to praise, and going to meet her joyfully, invited her to be his guest, saying: “Welcome, my Sister Death!” (From Chapter CLXIII, p. 388 of “The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul” by Thomas of Celano, The Second Book
To the brothers he said: “When you see I have come to my end put me out naked on the ground as you saw me naked the day before yesterday. and once I am dead, allow me to lie there for as long as it takes to walk a leisurely mile.” The hour came. All the mysteries of Christ were fulfilled in him, and he happily flew off to God. (From Chapter CLXIII, p. 388 of “The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul” by Thomas of Celano, The Second Book )
Excerpts from Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol II: The Founder, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A.
Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 2000. Used with permission.

**Suggested Homily:

As we gather this evening to “remember” the death of St. Francis, to whom might we address that same question? “What do you miss the most?” Might Clare respond: “I miss the deep conversations we had because our hearts were so in tune,” and then laugh at the remembrance of the time she and Francis shared a meal and were so wrapped in God that the townsfolk thought the area was on fire and came rushing down with pails of water to put out the flames?

“What do you miss the most?” Perhaps Masseo would say: “I miss Francis’ humble gestures of love,” and then recall the story of Francis waiting for him to bring back word from Clare and Sylvester as to how he should spend his days, in contemplation or in activity. Masseo would remember that, rather than rushing at him for an answer, Francis greeted him, washed his feet tenderly, cooked him a meal, and only then knelt down before Masseo to hear God ’s will for him.

“What do you miss the most?” What would Francis’ father say? How would his mother respond? What about Lady Jacopa?

There is a line from the fairy tale The Tinker King which states: “Everything dies a little when something dies a lot.” Francis’ passing from this world constituted a particularly brilliant reflection of God’s beauty no longer physically present to us. What a loss!

And in our loss, in the first decade of this 21st century, people like ourselves around the planet gather tonight for the 780th time since Francis’s death to ask the question one more time. “What do we miss the most?” and “What does our world miss the most?”

As we sit here tonight, “memories” come back that find us “dying a little” all over again because Francis died “a lot.” We encounter our own fears and yearnings as we stand before the darkness and the shadow of death in Iraq and North Korea and Iran.

Filling our news and our very beings, we listen with heavy hearts to the death toll in Philadelphia city streets alone. We mourn in solidarity with Iraqi and Afghan and Palestinian and Israeli mothers who have all “died a little” because their children have been terrorized and have “died a lot.”

But, in the face of this evil, we remember Francis who encountered the Sultan peacefully, who reconciled opposing factions in Assisi, who lifted hearts with his greeting of “Good Morning, Good People,” who envisioned a world of no enemies where everyone was sister and brother and who stripped himself of everything to make this happen more easily, who allowed his suffering to transform him into a most faithful mirror of Christ, and who could even face death singing—and, all of a sudden, WE HAVE HOPE.

We realize that our God is, indeed, not only a God of day but also a God who holds us during the darkness and that Francis’ imitation of the foot-washing Christ is just the antidote we and our world need in response to the oppression and brokenness that surround us.

As we ponder “What do we miss the most?” we are challenged by our own responsibility to “fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.” (1 Colossians 24) Through the intercession of St. Francis and through the legacy that he has passed down to us, what we miss the most God’s Spirit has given us the power to supply!
“I have done what is mine to do,” Francis would remind us tonight, “may Christ teach you what is yours to do.” (2C, 214)

– Sister Anne Amati, OSF

Homily—Feast of Francis of Assisi

October 4

This week the poor man of Assisi, the passionate follower of the Crucified Christ, Francis, came to sit with us. He sits in our front reception area, greeting each of us with his beautiful smile.

He sits on a wooden bench that envelops wood from a copper beech tree that dug its roots deep into our motherhouse soil, a tree that watched our Franciscan story unfold over the years. Francis and the copper beech wood, blending the richness of charism and heritage to bring us inspiration and joy.

Francis came to sit with us. As the Book of Sirach proclaimed, “Behold him in whose time the house of God was renovated, like a star shining…like the full moon at the holy day season…like the sun shining upon the temple…like the rainbow appearing in the cloudy sky.” Francis, lover and proclaimer of the Gospel became a renovator, an innovator, a collaborator, an instigator in the society and Church of his time. Francis discovered the humble, poor Christ and his example became the great light that directed Francis’ life. Jesus’ example was what set Francis’ feet resolutely on the road of poverty and humility, on the path of relationship where all were brother and sister. He invented a form of communio, of community where there existed no positions of dominance. The power of this quality of relationship flowed from Francis’ wonder-filled discovery of the mystery of the Incarnation. For Francis, God was not the God of the feudal wars or the holy crusades. Francis’ God was and is the Word who walked in our midst, without any sign of power, as the humblest and most loving of all. Francis discovered the humanness of God, the humility of God. For Francis, Celano writes, “the God of majesty himself became his brother (Celano, Vita II, 198).

Francis embraced this call to “communio”, communion with all and identified with the God of the poorest and humblest human condition. He set an example for the society and Church of his time in his radical embrace of poverty and in his creation of a community in which “whoever wishes to become great shall be the servant, and whoever wishes to be first shall be their minister and servant (Rule of 1221). Radical thought for radical times! Francis created a true spiritual revolution with the Gospel at its very core. In his day Francis challenged his brothers, his Church, his society “ to be created anew .” We heard these words today in Paul’s letter to the Galatians! “All that matters is that one is created anew! Peace and mercy on all who follow this rule of life.”

Today, here in this moment of our history where we are staring into the face of war, where we are becoming desensitized to the violence, hatred, and greed that corrupts our cities, our nation, our world, where we are polluting and raping our Mother Earth, we must “be created anew” in the power of our loving relationship with the Crucified Christ who became one with us! Listen to the observation of Franciscan scholar Eloi LeClerc about 13th century Italy and decide whether it sounds familiar today: In his preaching Francis went straight to what he felt was the essential point: humanity’s relationship with one another. It is this way that the Gospel enters into people’s lives!

No evangelical renewal was possible without a change in human relationships. First and foremost, the walls of hatred, disdain, and indifference separating people of the same city, of the same country, had to be broken down and then true brotherhood (relationship) had to begin among them.”

Today, no evangelical renewal is possible without a change in human relationship, without being vigilant about our own call as Franciscan women and men to be bearers of peace and reconcilers wherever we find ourselves. We are challenged to risk that road, to be as Francis was, renovators, innovators, collaborators and even instigators in the society and Church of our time. WE are mandated to be radical instruments of peace in a world that is longing for it.

Francis came to sit with us this week. He drew us into relationship as we dialogued about his presence, creating a positive energy that filled us with genuine joy. Yet he sits there challenging us to go deeper, to be more directly possessed by his God. In Francis’ words, “Up to now we have done hardly anything. My brothers and sisters, let us really begin to serve the Lord, our God.”

Francis came to sit with us this week. And how dangerous a presence he really is!

Peace and all good!

Lynn Patrice Lavin, OSF

Prayer Service for St. Francis Day

ENVIRONMENT:

Bible, picture of St. Francis of Assisi, flowers, or plant

CALL TO PRAYER:

Leader: All-powerful, most holy,
most high, and supreme God:
all good, supreme good, totally good,
You Who alone are good,
may we give You all praise, all glory,
all thanks, all honor,
all blessing, and all good.
All: So be it. So be it. Amen.

Excerpt from “Praises to Be Said at All Hours” page 162 in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, Volume 1: The Saint, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

HYMN:
“Give Thanks to the Lord” – Dan Schutte

PSALM 104 Pray antiphonally.
Antiphon: I will sing to my God, make music for the Lord.
Bless Yahweh, O my soul.
How great you are, Yahweh, my God!
You are clothed in majesty and splendor,
wrapped in a robe of light!

You spread the heavens out like a tent;
you build your high walls upon the waters above.
The clouds are your chariot
as you travel on the wings of the wind.

The breezes are your messengers
and fiery flames your servants.
You fixed the earth on its foundations
so that it cannot be moved;
you cover it with the deep as with a robe,
the waters enveloping the mountains.

At your charge the waters took to flight;
they fled at the sound of your thunder,
pouring over the mountains, settling into the valleys,
down to the place you made for them.
You set a limit they must never cross—
nor shall they flood the land again.

You set springs gushing in ravines,
flowing between the mountains,
giving drink to wild animals,
drawing the thirsty wild donkeys.

The birds of the air make their nests
and sing among the branches nearby.
From your palace you water the hills.
You fill the earth with the fruit of your works.

You make fresh grass grow for cattle,
and fruit for your people.
You bring forth food from the earth:
wine to make them rejoice,
oil to make them happy,
and bread to make them strong.

The trees of Yahweh are well watered—
those cedars of Lebanon.
Here the birds build their nest;
and on the highest branches, the stork has its home.

For the wild goats there are the mountains;
badgers hide in the rocks.
You made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows the hour of its setting.

You form the shadows, night falls,
and all the forest animals prowl about—
the lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.
At sunrise they retire,
to lie down in their lairs.

People go out to work
and to labor until the evening.
Yahweh, how many are the works you have created,
arranging everything in wisdom!

Earth is filled with creatures you have made:
see the vast ocean
teeming with countless creatures, great and small,
where ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan that you made to play for you.

All creatures depend on you
to give them food in due season.
You give the food they eat;
with generous hand, you fill them with good things.

If you turn your face away—they suffer;
if you stop their breath—they die and return to dust.
When you give your spirit, they are created.
You keep renewing the world.

Glory forever to you, Yahweh!
May you find joy in your creation.
At your glance the earth trembles;
at your touch the mountains smoke!

All my life I will sing to Yahweh;
I will play for you, my God, as long as I live.
May my life be pleasing to you
while I find my joy on earth!

May sinners vanish from the earth,
and the wicked exist no more!
Bless Yahweh, O my soul.

Glory . . .
Antiphon: I will sing to my God, make music for the Lord.

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF, and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.
READING: Galatians 6: 14-18

RESPONSE:
“Sequence” from the Mass on the Solemnity of St. Francis of Assisi
Pray antiphonally.
Lo, new signs of sanctity,
Deserving praise in high degree,
Wonderful and fair to see,
In Francis now behold!
To the newly gathered band
Francis gives the King’s command,
And guided by his mighty hand,
The New Law does unfold.
Before the world’s astonished view
Arise the life and Order new
Whose holy rules again renew
The evangelic state.
Francis to Christ’s law conforms,
The life monastic he reforms
And all the apostolic norms
he keeps inviolate.
Scant the measure of his food;
Scant his raiment, coarse and rude;
A cord his girdle plain and rude;
he goes with feet unshod.
For naught but poverty he yearns;
From money he in loathing turns;
All earthly things now Francis spurns,
Despising all for God.
He seeks a place to weep apart,
And mourns in bitterness of heart
The time he lost while taking part
In earthly things so vain.
Within a mountain cavern lone
He hides to weep, and lying prone,
Prays aloud with sign and groan;
Then peace returns again.
There in that rocky cave’s retreat,
Enrapt in contemplation sweet,
The wise judge spurns the earth beneath,
To heaven he aspires.
His flesh by penance is subdued,
Transfigured wholly and renewed;
The scriptures are his daily food;
He scorns all base desires.
Then like a seraph from the height
Of heaven, comes the King of might;
The patriarch, in deep affright,
Beholds the vision dread.
It bears the marks of Christ, and lo!
While Francis stands in speechless woe
It pierces him, and blood does flow
From out the wounds so red.
His body, like Christ’s crucified,
Is signed on hands and feet.
His side,
Pierced through and through, is slowly dyed
In crimson streams of blood.
Prophetic secrets now are heard:
Great wisdom has the Lord conferred
Upon the saint; the mystic word
His soul with light does flood.
Now in those bleeding wounds, behold!
Black nails appear, cause pain untold.
Sharp are the points, and manifold
The anguish and the woe.
No human instrument did aught
To make those wounds; they were not brought
To him by nature’s hand, nor wrought
By cruel hammer-blow.
We pray you, by the cross’s sign
Marked on your flesh, whereby ‘twas yours
The world, the flesh, all things malign,
To conquer gloriously:
O Francis, take us to your care,
Protect us here from every snare,
That we your great reward may share
In heaven eternally.
O holy Francis, Father sweet,
Devoutly we your aid entreat.
May we and all your children meet,
Crowned victors in the strife.
In virtue’s path our footsteps train
And guide us where the saints now reign,
that we, your children, may attain
The joys of endless life.
Amen. Alleluia.
Sequence reprinted from The Franciscan Lectionary, published by The English-Speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, 1975. Used with the permission of Jovian P. Lang, OFM.

GOSPEL CANTICLE:
Morning – “Benedictus” – Bernadette Farrell
Evening – “Magnificat” – Bernadette Farrell

INTERCESSIONS:
Response: Most High and Glorious God, hear our prayer.
Francis was in awe of the tremendous love God pours out daily on us. Trusting in that love, let us pray for our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
For the church, the community of sinners and saints, we pray.
For all people of the world and their leaders, especially those who have been victimized by war and oppression, we pray.
For the sick, the imprisoned, the neglected, and the abused, we pray.
For all the members of the Franciscan family throughout the world, we pray.
For all of us gathered here, we pray.
For what else should we pray . . .
For all who have died, we pray.

OUR FATHER

CONCLUDING PRAYER:
Let us pray.
Loving and compassionate God, you invited Francis to follow you in a life of simplicity and joy. May we imitate his devotion to your gospel and his love of all creation. We make our prayer in the name of Jesus who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit now and for ever.

SIGN OF PEACE

World Day of Prayer for Peace

“Men and women who have a religious spirit can in fact be the learners of a new awareness of the whole of humanity in regard to the common responsibility for peace.”
John Paul II, October 27, 1986
St. Mary of the Angels, Assisi

Environment:

globe (one without borders, if possible), lighted Christ candle and candles of various colors to symbolize the many nations of the world.

Introduction:

On October 27, 1986, for the first time in history, the leaders of the world religions assembled in one place, just to be together, to reflect, to pray, and to fast together for peace. The place was Assisi at St. Mary of the Angels. This gathering is considered one of the two most important ecclesial events of the twentieth century. The other was the Second Vatican Council.

Hymn Suggestions:

Peace Is Flowing Like a River (Landry)
We Are Called (Haas)
God of Day and God of Darkness (Haugen)
Prayer of St. Francis (Temple)
This Is My Song (FINLANDIA)
Let There Be Peace on Earth (Miller and Jackson)

Psalm Suggestions:

23; 67; 71; 77; 85; 140

Reading Suggestions:

Isaiah 32:15-18; Micah 4:1-4; James 4:1-10; Ephesians 4:30-5:2;
Colossians 3:12-15; Luke 6:27-31

A Prayer by Each Religious Tradition:

Reader l BUDDIST
May the frightened cease to be afraid
And those bound be free:
May the powerless find power,
And may people think of befriending one another.

Reader 2 HINDU
May God protect us.
Common be our resolution.
Alike be our feeling towards our fellow beings.
United be our hearts.
Perfect be our unity for peace.

Reader 3 JANIST
Forgive do I creatures all.
And let all creatures forgive me.
Know that violence is the root cause
of all miseries in the world.

Reader 4 MUSLIM
Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe.
The Mercy-Giving, the Merciful!
You do we worship and You do we call on for help.
Guide us along the Straight Road.

Reader 5 AFRICAN
Almighty God,
You are the One who does not hesitate to respond to our call:
You are the Cornerstone of Peace.
We pray for world peace.
Let peace reign in the Vatican.
Grant peace to Africa.
Grant peace to individuals, to homes and families,
And extend the same to all corners of the world.

Reader 6 AMERINDIAN
O Great Spirit,
I raise my pipe to you,
to your messengers the Four Winds,
and to Mother Earth, who provides for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect,
And to be kind to each other, so that they may grow with peace in mind.
Let us learn to share all the good things that you provide for us on this earth.

Reader 7 JEWISH
O Lord in heaven,
Give peace to the earth.
Give well being to the world.
Establish tranquility in our dwellings.
And let us say, “Amen!”

All CHRISTIAN
Our Father, our Mother, who art in heaven . . .

AN EXPRESSION OF THE WILL FOR PEACE

Leader: Do we pledge ourselves to serve the cause of peace through justice, in prayer, action, and suffering?

All: We do.

Leader: Do we commit ourselves to making peace a central aim of our prayer and action, as women of faith?

All: We do.

Leader: Do we commit ourselves to building peace in our families, in our communities, in our countries, among religions we encounter, and among the nations of the world?

All: We do.

Leader: Do we commit ourselves to overcoming injustice with justice, hate with love, resentment with forgiveness, violence with meekness, division with unity?

All: We do.

Song: Choose from those listed at the beginning.

“A Prayer by Each Religious Tradition” and “An Expression of the Will for Peace by All Present” has been adapted from the prayer service “To Remember Is to Relive,” Franciscan Federation T.O.R., 650 Jackson St. N.E. Washington, D.C. 20017. Used with permission.

November

Prayer Service of Remembrance

ENVIRONMENT:

(Deceased Sisters: 10/1/16 to 9/30/17)

Columbkill O’Connor, OSF

To the cemetery bring the list of deceased sisters, a significant candle representing Christ, a cross, and flowers. These can be placed in the circle of those who gather. The flowers can be placed on the sisters’ graves at the end of the prayer service.

CALL TO PRAYER:

Gathered in the light of Christ, we remember:

To preserve the great deeds of ancestors for the remembrance of their children, gives honor to the former, and shows love in the latter. The ancestors, separated by the passage of time, offer their children a memorable witness. Those who did not know them in their bodily presence are at least spurred to do good by their deeds and encouraged to do better. The first benefit we receive—and a great one—is knowledge of our own smallness. We see their merits abound while ours can hardly be found.
I consider blessed Francis the holiest mirror of the holiness of the Lord, the image of his perfection. I think everything about him, both his words and deeds, is fragrant with God’s presence. Anyone who studies them humbly and diligently, will quickly be filled with the teaching of salvation, ready for the saint’s highest philosophy.
I will recount a few things about him in a brief and simple style. I think it may be appropriate to mention a few of the many things that will honor the saint and rouse our dozing hearts.
Excerpt from Thomas of Celano, “The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul,”Introduction to the Second Book, from Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, Volume II: The Founder, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 2000. Used with permission.

OPENING HYMN:
“Remember Your Love” – Darryl Ducote, Gary Daigle

PSALM 142: Pray antiphonally.
With all my voice I cry to you, Yahweh;
with all my voice I entreat you.
I pour out my complaint before you;
I tell you all my distress.

When my spirit faints within me,
you, Yahweh, know my path.
On the way where I shall walk
they have hidden a snare to trap me.

I look on my right and see:
there is no one who takes my part.
I have lost all means of escape,
there is no one who cares for my life.

I cry to you, Yahweh,
I have said: “You are my refuge,
all I have in the land of the living.”
Listen, then, to my cry,
for I am in the depths of distress.

Rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
Bring my soul out of this prison,
and then I shall praise your name.
Around me the just will gather
because of your goodness to me.

Glory . . .

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF, and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.
READING: Wisdom 3: 1-6,9

RESPONSE: Litany of Remembrance
From the list of our deceased sisters, individual sisters read a set of names and respond with Mother Francis Bachmann’s words:
“God knows how much I love you. Oh, that I had the happiness to live with you as well as all the others. United with so many good sisters where each one incites the others to serve the Lord always better and to love God more intensely.”

SHARING:
As Thomas of Celano remembered Francis, so too we gather today to remember our sisters who have gone before us. Please feel free to share your memories.
Those present share their memories.

OUR FATHER:
Let us gather these memories and pray in the words Jesus has given us: Our Father . . .

CLOSING HYMN:
“Be Exalted”- Brent Chambers

Preparation for Election

Opening Song

Suggestion: “World Peace Prayer” – Marty Haugen on the recording, Come and Journey

Gathering Prayer

Leader: We give thanks, O God, for the gift of freedom that we have in the United States.

All: And all your many gifts to us

Leader: Let us see your glory, your justice and your peace

All: May our lives and our world be re-awakened by the power of your grace.

Reading

Our nation has been blessed with great freedom, vibrant democratic traditions, unprecedented economic strengths, abundant natural resources and a generous and religious people. Yet not all is right with our nation. Our prosperity does not reach far enough. Our culture does not lift us up; instead it may bring us down in moral terms. We are falling short of the American pledge of “liberty and justice for all,” our declaration to defend the inalienable rights of the human person–“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Psalm 1 Pray antiphonally.

Oh, the joys of those
who walk not after the advice of the wicked,
nor stand in the path of sinners,
nor sit in the seat of scoffers,
but delight in the law of Yahweh
and ponder it day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water
that yield fruit in due season,
whose leaves do not wither;
and everything they do prospers.

The ungodly are not so
but are like chaff which the wind blows away.
Therefore, they cannot stand firm when Judgment comes,
nor shall sinners find a place in the assembly of the righteous.

For God knows the way of the just,
but the way of the ungodly ends in ruin.

Glory . . .

Reading

For Catholics, public virtue is as important as private virtue in building the common good. In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, participation in the political process is a moral obligation. Every believer is called to faithful citizenship, to become an informed, active and responsible participant in the political process…Every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts. Every act of responsible citizenship is an exercise of significant individual power.

Questions for Private Reflection/Community Sharing
It may be helpful to refer to the candidate’s positions on various issues put out by NETWORK and found on line at www.networklobby.org

Who benefits from the most from each position taken by the candidate?
Who bears the cost of this position?
What are the immediate implications of this position?
What must be given up or sacrificed to pursue this position?
What are the long-term implications of this position?
Closing Prayer
O God, as we strive to live out our faith and to address the world through the lens of our relationship to God and to one another, send your Spirit upon us that the decisions we make at this important time, may truly reflect your teachings and benefit the greatest number of people. May these and all our decisions be based on global responsibility and an awareness of the needs of all people. Amen.

Readings are reprinted with permission from the Bishops’ letter, “Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility.”

Psalm is from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF, and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Our thanks to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia for preparing this prayer service.

Another useful resource is the Novena for Faithful Citizenship: http://faithfulcitizenship.org/resources/podcasts.

Election Day

Call to Prayer

We place ourselves in the presence of God, who is the source of all hope.

Hymn
Suggestion: “Blest Are They” – David Haas

Reading
Every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts. Every act of responsible citizenship is an exercise of significant power.
As we approach the elections, we renew our call for a new kind of politics focused on moral principles not on the latest polls, on the needs of the poor and vulnerable not the contributions of the rich and powerful, and on the pursuit of the common good, not the demands of special interests.
…this is not a time for retreat or discouragement. We need more, not less engagement in political life.

PSALM 67 Pray antiphonally.
God, show your faithfulness, bless us,
and make your face smile on us!

For then the earth will acknowledge your ways,
and all the nations will know of your power to save.

May all the nations praise you, O God;
may all the nations praise you!

Let the nations shout and sing for you
since you dispense true justice to the world.
You grant strict justice to the peoples;
on earth you guide the nations.

Let the nations praise you, God;
let all the nations praise you!

The soil has given its harvest;
God, our God, has blessed us.

May God continue to bless us;
and let God be feared to the very ends of the earth.

Glory.

Leader

Our Catholic Faith compels us to address the world through the lens of our relationship with God and with one another. We need political leaders who will make peace with justice a top priority and who will actively seek nonviolent solutions to conflict.

That our political leaders will rebuild our communities and bring an end to the cycles of violence and killing, we pray…
That our political leaders will seek to reduce the disparity between the rich and the poor, we pray…

That our political leaders will actively promote racial justice and equal opportunity for everyone…

That our political leaders will recognize earth’s goodness, champion environmental justice and uphold our responsibility to be stewards of God’s creation, we pray…

That our political leader will support adequate, affordable and accessible health care for all, we pray…

Spontaneous petitions . . .

Let us pray: Spirit of Guidance, we see before us the numerous choices and decisions to be made as we cast our votes today. We entrust our decisions into your hands, knowing that we cannot make the right decision without your help. Lead us through all that is unclear, doubtful, hesitant and questioning as we search for the right way to go. Grant us the grace to choose freely. We place our decision in your hands. Lead us to choose the candidate that will lead our country in the way of peace and justice for all. Amen.

Reading is reprinted with permission from the Bishops’ letter, “Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility.”

Psalm is from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF, and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Our thanks to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia for preparing this prayer service.

Another useful resource is the Novena for Faithful Citizenship: http://faithfulcitizenship.org/resources/podcasts.

Creative Thanksgiving

THANKSGIVING FOR GOD’S GOODNESS

Hymn Suggestions:

All My Days (Schutte)
Glory and Praise to Our God (Schutte)
God Is So Good (Landry)
God, You Are Good (Nelson)
Yahweh (Weston Priory)
You Are Near (Schutte)

Introduction

We walk before our God
—today—every day—
thankful for God’s presence in our lives,
a presence that breathes gentleness,
that heals our brokenness and loves us into wholeness,
that embraces us with goodness so pervasive
that our lives can be but echoes of a continuing hymn of
thanks

Reader 1: Ephesians 1: 3-10

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenly places,
just as he chose us in Christ
before the foundation of the world
to be holy and blameless before him in love.

He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ,
according to the good pleasure of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace
that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace
that he lavished on us.

With all wisdom and insight
he has made known to us the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure
that he set forth in Christ,
as a plan for the fullness of time,
to gather up all things in him,
things in heaven and things on earth.

Response: Refrain of “God, You Are Good” or refrain of one of the hymns listed above.

God, You are good, God, You are love
You are the source of my joy!
God, You are good, God, You are love.
You are the source of my life!

From “God, You are Good” © 1996 by Cathy Tisel Nelson. E-mail: ctsinels@charter.net. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Reader 2:
Therefore,
let us desire nothing else,
let us want nothing else,
let nothing else please us and cause us delight
except our Creator, Redeemer, and Savior,
the only true God,
who is the fullness of good,
all good, every good, the true and supreme good,
who alone is good,
merciful, gentle, delightful, and sweet,
who alone is holy,
just true, holy, and upright,
who alone is kind, innocent, clean,
from whom, through whom, and in whom
is all pardon, all grace, all glory
of all penitents and just ones,
of all the blessed rejoicing together in heaven.

From “Early Rule,” page 85, XXIII, #9 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

Response:God, You Are Good”

Reader 3: “Canticle”
You dreamed of me in love
Soft whisper-breathed my name. . .
God-loved me into being.
Be praised, my God of all that is.

You held my brokenness within your hands
And gently smoothed with godly care
My glassy, sharpened shards. . .
God-loved me into wholeness.
Be praised, my God, of broken lives.

You searched my darkness with your light. . .
Not harsh. . .
Not glaring. . .
But gently muted
Till my spirit too could bear the rays. . .
God-loved me into light.
Be praised, my God whose name is Light.

You warmed the coldness that I wore
And softened from within
The hardness of my shell. . .
Warmly. . .
Softly. . .
You embraced
And God-breathed gentleness into my veins.
Be praised, my gentle God of warmth.

You sigh with pleasure at this ME you made
And gaze in awe at all I am.
You laugh and sing with godly joy
God-breathing godness into me.
Be praised, my God,
My Joy,
My God,
My All.
Ann Marie Slavin, OSF

Response: “God, You Are Good”

Prayers of Gratitude: Paragraphs can be read by individuals or the group.

We are grateful for eyes that can see and ponder, for taste buds that know the sensuous pleasures of eating and drinking, for hands that hold and touch and feel, for ears that can delight in music and the voice of a friend, for a nose that can smell the aroma of newly mown grass or delicious food, and can also breathe the air that gives us life.

We are grateful for the treasure of loved ones whose hearts of openness and acceptance have encouraged us to be who we are. We are grateful for their faithfulness, for standing by us when our weaknesses stood out glaringly, for being there when we were most in need and for delighting with us in our good days and our joyful seasons.

We are grateful for the eyes of faith, for believing in the presence of God, giving us hope in our darkest days, encouraging us to listen to our spirit’s hunger, and reminding us to trust in the blessings of God’s presence in our most empty days.

We are grateful for the ongoing process of becoming who we are, for the seasons within, for the great adventure of life that challenges and comforts us at one and the same time.

We are grateful for the messengers of God—people, events, written or spoken words—that came to us at just the right time and helped us to grow.

We are grateful for God calling us to work with our gifts, grateful that we can be of service and use our talents in a responsible and just way.

We are grateful that we have the basic necessities of life, that we have the means and the ability to hear the cries of the poor and to respond with our abundance.

We are grateful for the miracle of life, for the green of our earth, for the amazing grace of our history; we are grateful that we still have time to decide the fate of the world by our choices and our actions, grateful that we have it within our power to bring a divided world to peace.

Closing Prayer:
Faithful God, you have lavished us with love. Keep us ever mindful that you keep your promises. On our difficult days help us to remember that you are a refuge for those who need shelter, a comfort for those who feel empty and poor in spirit. On our joyful days fill us with a deep sense of thanksgiving as we experience your everlasting love. Help us to share your graciousness with all those who need a touch of generous love. Amen.

Prayers of Gratitude and Closing Prayer excerpted from pages 151-152 of May I Have This Dance? by Joyce Rupp, © 1992. Used with permission from the publisher, Ave Maria Press. Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, www.avemariapress.com.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Prayer Options

Bless this food we have before us, O God. Let it provide the nourishment we need.

Bless this family and our friends gathered around this table. Let us be nourished by our love and care for one another.

Bless those who have less than we have. Let our eyes be open to their needs.

Bless us as we bless your holy name on this day of thanksgiving. Let us praise and thank you always in Jesus’ name. Amen.

_________________________

For those who choose to sing a blessing:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God, all creatures here below.
Praise God above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

_________________________

You, Most High, are the giver of all good gifts.
Thank you for the abundant blessings of food, shelter, family, and friends. From our hearts, we give you special thanks for . . . (each person can name something for which they are grateful)… For each of these blessings we are grateful and we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

_________________________

Pray with St. Francis:

“All-powerful, most holy, most high, supreme God: all good, supreme good, totally good, You Who alone are good, may we give You all praise, all glory, all thanks, all honor, all blessing, and all good. So be it! So be it! Amen.”

From Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999, page 162. Used with permission.

______________________­­____

Loving and Compassionate One, we gather on this Thanksgiving Day to share our love and friendship and the overflowing goodness of your love seen on and around this table. Bless those whose livelihood comes from toiling the earth: the farmers, growers, and pickers of this bounty. Bless us as we share from their labors. Bless all who have less than we have and help us to care for them as generously as you care for us. Bless each of us gathered at this table. Help us to grow in love for one another. As we gather we remember those who have gone before us gathered in your loving embrace. May we always remember them in love. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

_________________________

Litany of Thanksgiving:

For the gift of life, We thank you.
For the gift of family,
For the gift of this food,
For our friends,
For laughter,
For our safety,
For our shelter,
For the gift of love,
For the abundance of your love, O God,

Liturgy of Thanksgiving Hours

THANKSGIVING FOR GOD’S GOODNESS

Hymn Suggestions:
Let All Things Now Living (ASH GROVE)
Give Thanks to the Lord (Schutte)
All the Earth (Deiss)
How Great Thou Art (Hine)
Canticle of the Sun (Haugen)

Psalm 8
Antiphon:All-powerful, most holy, Almighty and supreme God, holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth, we thank you for yourself.

From “Early Rule,” page 81, XXIII, #1 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

O God, our God,
how glorious is your name over all the earth!
You have exalted your majesty above the heavens.

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings
you have fashioned praise because of your foes,
to silence the hostile and the vengeful.

When I behold your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars
which you set in place—

Who are we that you should be mindful of us,
that you should care for us?
You have made us little less than the gods
and crowned us with glory and honor.

You have given us rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under our feet:
all sheep and oxen,
yes, and the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.

God, our God,
how glorious is your name over all the earth!

Glory . . .

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Psalm 92
Antiphon:You have created everything spiritual and corporal and, after making us in your own image and likeness, you placed us in paradise.

From “Early Rule,” page 82, XXIII, #1 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

O Yahweh, it is good to give you thanks,
to sing psalms to your name, O Most High,
to declare your love in the morning
and your constancy every night,
to the music of a ten-stringed lute,
to the sounding chords of the harp.
Your acts, O Yahweh, fill me with exultation;
I shout in triumph at your mighty deeds.

How great are your deeds, Yahweh,
How fathomless your thoughts!
Those who do not know this are senseless,
fools are they who do not understand this:
that though the wicked grow like grass
and every evildoer prospers,
they will be destroyed for ever.
While you, Yahweh, reign on high eternally,
your foes will surely perish,
all evildoers will be scattered.

Glory . . .

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Ephesians 1: 3-10
Antiphon:Let us refer all good to the Lord, God Almighty and Most High, acknowledge that every good is his, and thank him, “from whom all good comes for everything.”

From “Early Rule,” page 76, XVII, #17 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenly places,
just as he chose us in Christ
before the foundation of the world
to be holy and blameless before him in love.

He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ,
according to the good pleasure of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace
that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace
that he lavished on us.

With all wisdom and insight
he has made known to us the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure
that he set forth in Christ,
as a plan for the fullness of time,
to gather up all things in him,
things in heaven and things on earth.

Glory . . .

Reading:
With our whole heart,
our whole soul,
our whole mind,
with our whole strength and fortitude
with our whole understanding
with all our powers
with every effort,
every affection,
every feeling,
every desire and wish
let us all love the Lord God
who has given and gives to each one of us
our whole body, our whole soul and our whole life.

From “Early Rule,” page 84, XXIII, #8 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

Response:
Therefore, let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us, nothing come between us.
—Therefore, let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us, nothing come between us.

Let us love the Lord God
—Therefore, let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us, nothing come between us.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
— Therefore, let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us, nothing come between us.

From “Early Rule,” page 85, XXIII, #10 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

Gospel Canticle Antiphon: May he, the Almighty and Most High, the only true God, have, be given, and receive all honor and respect, all praise and blessing, all thanks and glory, to whom all good belongs, he who alone is good.

From “Early Rule,” page 76, XVII, #18 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

Intercessions:
Response: God of life, hear our prayer.
For the church, her members and her leaders, we pray . . .
For peace and understanding among all nations, we pray . . .
For those who are poor and in any need, we pray . . .
For all of us gathered here to be always grateful for God’s goodness, we pray . . .
For all those we hold dear, especially _________, we pray . . .
For those who have died, especially _________, we pray . . .

Our Father:

Closing Prayer:
Wherever we are,
in every place,
at every hour,
at every time of the day,
every day and continually,
let all of us truly and humbly believe,
hold in our heart and love,
honor, adore, serve,
praise and bless,
glorify and exalt,
magnify and give thanks
to the Most High and Supreme Eternal God
Trinity and Unity,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Creator of all,
Savior of all,
who believe and hope in him,
and love him, who,
without beginning and end,
is unchangeable, invisible,
indescribable, ineffable,
incomprehensible, unfathomable,
blessed, praiseworthy,
glorious, exalted,
sublime, most high,
gentle, lovable, delightful,
and totally desirable, above all else
forever, Amen.

From “Early Rule,” page 85-86, XXIII, #11 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Prayer to Close the School of the Americas

Let us place our efforts for peace and justice before our God. Let us remember daily our call to be a voice for the poor. Let us stand in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those who have gone before us in the way of nonviolence.

Song:
We are Called, by David Haas or any appropriate song or music

Opening Prayer:
We gather in prayer in union with all people of good will throughout the world. We need God’s wisdom and love to be peacemakers in our times.

All:
Great lover of the Earth, Lover of all peoples, be with us at this time of prayer. We gather asking that your gift of justice and love may be given and shared. We ask that your care for the poor and oppressed be enfleshed anew in our times. We ask that your gift of wisdom be with all of us as we ponder; pray, and act to discontinue the injustices connected with the School of the Americas.

Psalm: 139

Antiphon: O God, we praise you for the wonder of our being.
God, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I stand;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down,
with all my ways you are familiar.
Before a word is on my tongue,
Behold, O God, you know the whole of it.
Behind and before, you besiege me,
You lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me
Too high, beyond my reach.
O, where can I go from your spirit,
or where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb to the heaven, you are there!
If I lie in the grave, you are there!
If I say, “let darkness cover me
and the light around my be night.”
Even darkness is not dark to you,
and the night is as bright as the day;
for darkness is as light to you.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Test me and know my thoughts!
See that I follow not the wrong way
and lead me in the way of life eternal.
Glory to you, source of all Being…

Reader:
The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American soldiers in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. Graduates of the SOA are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America that includes the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians.

The UN Truth Commission Report on El Salvador cited over 60 Salvadoran officers, 2/3 were alumni of the School of the Americas, participated in that country’s brutal murders of Archbishop Romero, the six Jesuits and housekeepers, and the four US church women.

On January 17, 2001 the SOA was replaced by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC). However, the list of graduates involved in torture, murder, and human rights abuses continues to grow. On May 5, 2001 Barbara Ann Ford, SC was shot and killed in Guatemala by a group of heavily armed men. Her murder took place within escalating threats and attacks against human rights workers. Archbishop Gerardi was assassinated in Guatemala after the release of his 1998 report on the SOA atrocities. In June 2002, Colombian police arrested SOA graduate Fredy Jimenez for the murder of Archbishop Isaias Duarte in March – the atrocities continue.

Reflection
Petitions Response: O God, we need your wisdom and love.
Leader: O God, you are the source of all help and hope, of all wisdom and love. Accept these our prayers.
For the hundreds of thousands of people all over Latin America who have been tortured, raped, assassinated, disappeared, massacred, or forced into refuge by those trained at the School of the Americas. We cry…

For the memory our sisters and brothers who first lived on these lands. We pray for an end to the SOA violence and arrogance that continues to ravage indigenous peoples. We cry…

For conversion of heart and commitment to actions that will bring about the closing of the U:S. Army School of the Americas. We cry…

For ways of working together to create a world where people of all religions, races, ethnicities, genders, abilities, classes, and beliefs will live together free from fear and oppression. We cry…

(Other petitions…)

Closing Prayer:
O loving God, show us the way of hope.
Enkindle the flame of faith and love.
Help us to respond as your people
In integrity and with peace. Amen.

Adapted from Prayers for a New World Order by Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ

Prayer adapted by Kathleen Coll, SSJ, from that written by Patricia Joseph Corkery, RSM. Used with permission from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia.

Prayer Vigil in Solidarity with Those at Fort Benning, Georgia

We often find ourselves at times in the dark
Good or evil in between, of our own or another’s making.
Our work is to name the darkness for what it is and to tend what it asks of us:
Whether it is a darkness that asks for justice
To bring the dawn of hope to a night of terror,
Or for a candle to give warmth to the shadows,
Or for companions to hold us in our uncertainty and unknowing,
Or for a blanket to enfold us as we wait for the darkness
To teach us what we need to know.
In these days of darkness and solidarity, it may indeed seem that god’s face is
Hidden from our sight. But the sacred presence is there, breathing in the shadows. This is when we learn to trust senses other than sight and to seek the face of god beneath our fingertips.

(Taken from NIGHT VISIONS by Jan L. Richardson)

INVOCATION
Let us believe passionately the words of scripture: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.” We are gathered together today to pray in solidarity with the transforming witness of our sisters and brothers at the School of Americas. We are one with them in their hope; we are one with our brothers and sisters in Central and South America in their thirst for justice; we are one in the Spirit of God who urges us: “live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly before me.” Let us cry to God to witness to this transforming action today.

Side 1 God, send out your Spirit. Renew the face of the earth. The tools for death rooted in the School of the Americas (WHISC) spread a poison on our land. Rain down, rain down your peace! Let it flood the grounds at the School of the Americas, bringing a transformed and life-giving spirit to it.

Side 2 Show your truth to all who have been misled by a false belief in military might. Transform the minds and hearts of all who strive to be masters of war. Make them servants of peace.

Side 1 Lead us from death to Life, from falsehood to truth. From despair to hope, from fear to trust.

Side 2 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.

All Let the goodness of God cry out today, and let this land come to life with God’s saving grace.

Romero’s Challenge to the Churches
Reader 1. It is the poor who tell us what the world is, and what the Church’s service to the world should be. It is within this world devoid of human face, this contemporary sacrament of the suffering servant of Yahweh, that the Church of my archdiocese has undertaken to incarnate itself.

Reader 2. The world of the poor, with its very concrete social and political characteristics, teaches us where the Church can incarnate itself in such a way that it will avoid the false universalism that inclines the Church to associate itself with the powerful. ..The world of the poor teaches us that the sublimity of Christian love ought to be mediated through the overriding necessity of justice for the majority.

Reader 3. The Church is in the world so as to bring the liberating love of God, manifested in Christ. It therefore understands Christ’s preference for the poor, because the poor are…those who place before the Latin American Church a challenge and a mission that it cannot sidestep and to which it must respond with a speed and boldness adequate to the urgency of the times.

Reader 4. The Church can be Church only as long as it goes on being the Body of Christ. Its mission will be authentic only so long as it is the mission of Jesus in the new situations, the new circumstances of history. It is the church’s duty in history to lend its voice to Christ so that he may speak; its feet so that he may walk today’s world; its hands to build the reign of God, and to offer all its members “to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ.

Reader 5. The Church would betray it own love for God and its fidelity to the Gospel if it stopped being “the voice of the voiceless,” a defender of the rights of the poor, a promoter of every just aspiration for liberation, a guide, an empowerer, a humanizer of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society, a society that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history.

Song
“Let Justice Roll Like A River” by Marty Haugen (WONDROUS LOVE) or any other appropriate hymn.

Leader: Let us join now in making our commitment to walk with the people of Central America. God we offer these gifts of corn and beans symbol of the work and life of the campesinos. Help them to rebuild their land.

Response: Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
God we offer you this Bible, symbol of the faith of the poor. They remain for us models of what it means to live out our faith in a world of injustice.

God we offer you this earth, symbol of those displaced by poverty and oppression. Help then to reclaim their land.
God, we offer our solidarity as we see the “Morning Star” of justice and peace rising over Central America.

AWAY WHISC! AWAY!
CLOSE THE SOA!
AWAY WHISC! AWAY!

Prayer to Close the School of the Americas and to Remember the 30th Anniversary of the Murder of the Four American Churchwomen

Let us place our efforts for peace and justice before our God. Let us remember daily our call to be a voice for the poor.

Let us stand in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those who have gone before us in the day of nonviolence.

OPENING PRAYER

Leader:

+ Mindful of those who are victims, and the families and friends of victims of SOA abuse;

+ Mindful of the SOA military men and women;

+ Mindful of those gathered in corporate witness this year at Fort Benning’s Gate;

+ Mindful of our Sisters Loretta Schaff, Maureen Fox, Ruth Bernadette O’Connor and Sara Marks, who will represent us in El Salvador at the 30th anniversary remembrance of the deaths of the Church Women.

All:

We pray in the name of our God of Life, Love and Mercy and in union with all people of good will throughout the world. We need God’s wisdom and love to be peacemakers in our times. We ask that your gift of wisdom be with all of us as we ponder; pray, and act to discontinue the injustices connected with the School of the Americas. Amen.

Song: We Are Called – David Haas

INVOCATION

Let us believe passionately the words of scripture: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.” We are gathered together today to pray in solidarity with the transforming witness of our sisters and brothers at the School of the Americas. We are one with them in their hope; we are one with our brothers and sisters in Central and South America in their thirst for justice; we are one in the Spirit of God who urges us: “live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly before me.” Let us cry to God to witness to this transforming action today.

Side 1: God, send out your Spirit. Renew the face of the earth. The tools for death rooted in the School of the Americas (WHISC) spread a poison on our land. Rain down, rain down your peace! Let it flood the grounds at the School of the Americas, bringing a transformed and life-giving spirit to it.

Side 2: Show your truth to all who have been misled by a false belief in military might. Transform the minds and hearts of all who strive to be masters of war. Make them servants of peace.

Side 1: Lead us from death to Life, from falsehood to truth. From despair to hope, from fear to trust.

Side 2: 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.

All: Let the goodness of God cry out today, and let this land come to life with God’s saving grace.

Romero’s Challenge to the Churches:

Reader 1. It is the poor who tell us what the world is, and what the Church’s service to the world should be. It is within this world devoid of human face, this contemporary sacrament of the suffering servant of Yahweh that the Church of my archdiocese has undertaken to incarnate itself.

Reader 2. The world of the poor, with its very concrete social and political characteristics, teaches us where the Church can incarnate itself in such a way that it will avoid the false universalism that inclines the Church to associate itself with the powerful. The world of the poor teaches us that the sublimity of Christian love ought to be mediated through the overriding necessity of justice for the majority.

Reader 3. The Church is in the world so as to bring the liberating love of God, manifested in Christ. It therefore understands Christ’s preference for the poor, because the poor are…those who place before the Latin American Church a challenge and a mission that it cannot sidestep and to which it must respond with a speed and boldness adequate to the urgency of the times.

Reader 4. The Church can be Church only as long as it goes on being the Body of Christ. Its mission will be authentic only so long as it is the mission of Jesus in the new situations, the new circumstances of history. It is the church’s duty in history to lend its voice to Christ so that he may speak; its feet so that he may walk in today’s world; its hands to build the reign of God, and to offer all its members “to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ”.

Reader 5. The Church would betray its own love for God and its fidelity to the Gospel if it stopped being “the voice of the voiceless,” a defender of the rights of the poor, a promoter of every just aspiration for liberation, a guide, an empowerer, a humanizer of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society, a society that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history.

Proclamation: Gospel of John 10: 9-10

Silent Reflection

Leader: Let us pause to remember those who continue to speak until the violence ends. We pray especially for those who participate in civil disobedience and non-violent protest, and continue their witness from prison cells throughout the country. Let us send them our support.

Response: In solidarity, we send you peace and love.

Litany of the Martyrs:

Leader: We have been called to stand in solidarity with all who are victims of injustice in our world. Today we especially remember those who suffered and were martyred by the graduates of the School of the Americas. We pronounce their names and bring their spirit and witness before us as we respond: PRESENTE!
Indian Martyrs of massacres in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala; El Mozote, El Salvador; La Cantuta, Peru and thousands killed by the military for defending their human rights. PRESENTE!

Central American priests and religious who gave their lives for their people. PRESENTE!

Hundreds of martyred catechists and Delegates of the Word. PRESENTE!

Martyrs in the cause of human rights, Masses of unnamed men, women and children in Columbia and Argentina. PRESENTE!

Our North American sisters and brothers who gave their lives: Maureen Courtney, Stanley Rother, William Woods, Benjamin Linder. PRESENTE!

Archbishop Oscar Romero, prophet and martyr of El Salvador. PRESENTE!
Our sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Jean Donovan, Dorothy Kazel. PRESENTE!
The martyrs of the Central America University in San Salvador. PRESENTE!
Bishop Juan Gerardi, and Sister Barbara Anne Ford. PRESENTE!
Sister Dorothy Stang. PRESENTE!
Martyrs of Columbia. PRESENTE!
For the people of Honduras, struggling to restore constitutional order to their country. PRESENTE!

Closing Prayer and Blessing

Leader:
In faithfulness, “We seek to relieve misery and address its causes.” Today, we pray to end this cause of human misery, we pray to end this cause of human rights abuses. We pray for restoration of the fullness of life for all peoples, especially those most marginalized. We pray for the closure of the SOA.

God of Life, Love and Mercy, bless us with your own Spirit, so that we may be found at the gates struggling for justice, always encouraged by our common vision of fullness of life and dignity for all. This we pray in your name. Response: Amen

The Birth of Mother Mary Francis Bachmann

Hymn Suggestions:

Remain As One (Roberts)
Before the Sun Burned Bright (Schutte)
Center of My Life (Inwood)
God Has Chosen Me (Farrell)
Gospel Canticle (any version)

Introduction:

Leader: Maria Anna was born in Wenigumstadt, Bavaria on November 14, 1824 of Wilhelm Johann (John) and Magdalena Knegel Boll, who welcomed their third child with much joy.

Through her parents, John and Magdalena, God has graced the world with a great gift. Who would have thought 170 years ago that her birth would have “given birth” to so many. Even now, we, her sisters, hear God’s call to faithfulness and a new life echoed in her message to “Remain as one in the spirit of love, in union with God.”

All: Inflame in us a deep desire for God.

Leader: As we have asked of Francis and Clare, but too often, for many of us, have neglected to ask of you . . .

All: Walk with us; we seek to know you, woman of faith… Maria Anna, Mother Francis.

Psalm Suggestions:

Psalms of the day or 11; 15; 71; 139

Reading Suggestions:

Luke 1:39-45; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Song of Songs 2:10-14

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

Just as Mary was to the early Church, and Clare was to her first sisters, so Mother Mary Francis is to us.

Intercessions:

Response: God of Life, hear our prayer.

For government leaders and all who make life-giving choices for others, we pray…
For parents who are willing to give life to and make provisions for life for their children, we pray…
For the grace of generativity for each of us, we pray…
For an awareness of the joy and beauty in our own lives, we pray…
For a willingness to take risks in our everyday experiences, we pray…
For grateful hearts for all the blessings we have received through the life and intercession of Mother Francis Bachmann, we pray…

Closing Prayer:

Good and gracious God, you have gifted us with a woman of simple prayer and inner strength. You called Mother Mary Francis Bachmann to joyfully trust in your Divine Providence. May our own faith commitment deepen as we journey with Mother Mary Francis and each other. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

December

Advent Prayer Service

Environment:

Bible, Mary statue, candle, straw

Hymn Suggestions:

Advent
Beyond the Moon and Stars (Schutte)
Christ, Circle Round Us (Schutte)
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus (STUTTGART)
Creator of the Stars of Night (CONDITOR ALME SIDERUM)
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (VENI, VENI, EMMANUEL)
On Jordan’s Bank (WINCHESTER NEW)
People, Look East (BESANÇON)
O Come, Divine Messiah (VENEZ, DIVIN MESSIE)
The Coming of Our God (OPTATUS VOTIS OMNIUM)
Wake, O Wake and Sleep No Longer (WACHET AUF)
Marian
Ave Maria (Chant)
Hail Mary, Gentle Woman (Landry)
Magnificat (Farrell)
Mary, Woman of the Promise (DRAKE’S BOUGHTON)
Mary’s Song (Rieth)
Salve Regina (Chant)
Sing of Mary (PLEADING SAVIOR)
Song of Mary (Schutte)

Call to Worship:

The holy season of Advent is upon us. As we wait, in joyful anticipation, the coming of our Savior, Jesus, let us invite our Lord to join us in prayer, as we attempt to put our priorities around those things that will bring us closer to our Messiah.

Hymn: Choose an Advent hymn from the list above or another of your choice.

Reading 1: Isaiah 7: 10-15

The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

(Pause for reflection.)

Psalm 85

Response: Our Lord will come to save us.

Let us see your mercy
and give us your saving help.
I will hear what you, God have to say,
a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for your people and your friends
and those who turn to you in their hearts.
Your help is near for those who fear you
and your glory will dwell in our land. — R/

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven. — R/

Yahweh, you will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before you
and peace shall follow your steps. — R/

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Intercessions:

Leader: To the One who is and who is to come, we pray:

Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel.

Because we are poor and needy and we long for your fullness, we pray . . .

Because your people are oppressed and in chains, teach us how to break the bonds that enslave them, we pray . . .

Because our hearts are stone and our eyes are blind, we ask that you create in us hearts of flesh to see your suffering world, we pray . . .

Because we await your coming at the dawning of each day, may those who await your final coming see the dawn of eternal life, we pray . . .

Reprinted from People’s Companion to the Breviary by the Carmelites of Indianapolis, © 1997. Used with permission.

Our Father

Closing Prayer:

Loving God, your word comforts us and enables us to wait for your coming in hope. May we not lose heart but, with joyful and thankful hearts, continue to praise you for the wonder of your incarnation. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Concluding Hymn: Choose a Marian hymn from the list above or another of your choice.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Winter – Stillness and Hibernation

Environment:
Bowl of soil and quiet atmosphere with enough light to read

Introduction:
The winter sends many animals and plants into hibernation—that is “spending the winter in close quarters in a dormant condition.” (Webster’s Dictionary) Hibernation brings on a stillness, a quietness that will nurture future growth and activity. As we move into this winter season, let’s spend some time reflecting on stillness, hibernation, and what future growth and activity that time of quiet will bring forth in us.

Readings:
Pause for quiet after each short reading to experience the stillness and be invited more deeply into it.

Reader One: Ponder it on your beds, and be silent. (Ps. 4:4)

Reader Two: Now during those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God.
(Lk. 6:12)

Reader One: Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” (Mk. 4:39)

Reader Two: Be still, and know that I am God. (Ps. 46:10)

Reader One: I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother. (Ps. 131:2)

Reader Two: Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness. (Mt. 4:1)

Reader One: After he dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. (Mt. 14:22)

Reader Two: He withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. (Mt. 14:13)

Reader One: Be silent, all people, before the Lord. (Zec. 2:13)

Reader Three: A reading from Celano’s Life of St. Francis
Changed in mind but not in body, he now refused to go to Apulia and was anxious to direct his will to God’s. Thus he retired for a short time from the tumult and business of the world and was anxious to keep Jesus Christ in his inmost self. Like an experienced merchant, he concealed the pearl he had found from the eyes of mockers and selling all he had, he tried to buy it secretly.

From I Celano, III, #6, p. 187 in Francis Assisi: Early Documents Vol. 1, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

Reflection and Faith Sharing
Sit quietly experiencing the stillness. How do you feel about the stillness, about hibernation? What is dormant in you that you hope the stillness of winter will bring to life? What would you like to plant in the soil? After ten or fifteen minutes, share your experience.

Conclusion:
Leader: Our Father . . .

Let us go in peace to experience the stillness and nurture what needs to come to life.

All: Thanks be to God.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

AIDS Creative Prayer

Hymn Suggestions:

City of God (Schutte)
Come to Me (Weston Priory)
Come to the Water (Foley)
I Have Loved You (Joncas)
Isaiah 49 (Landry)
O Healing Light of Christ (Landry)
Healing River of the Spirit (Beach Spring)
Precious Lord (Dorsey)
Holy Darkness (Schutte)
On Eagle’s Wings (Joncas)
Peace Is Flowing Like a River (Landry)
Shelter Me, O God (Hurd)
The Cry of the Poor (Foley)
You Are Mine (Haas)

Opening Prayer for Forgiveness and Strength:
God calls us as a people, a whole people, none of whom is worthless. We are called to bear witness to the good news that no one is a stranger or an outsider, and that in Jesus Christ all division and separation have been broken down. In the face of the worldwide crisis of HIV/AIDS we are called to be one people, yet hardness of heart, discrimination, and oppression prevent us from being who God calls us to be.

For this we ask forgiveness.

God of compassion, we often misrepresent you as a God of wrath, yet you are a God of love, raising us all to life; and so we ask:
Lord, have mercy.
R. Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus, you banish the fear that has paralyzed us in responding to the needs of all who are affected by HIV and AIDS. When we falter, encourage us and strengthen us; and so we ask:
Christ, have mercy.
R. Christ, have mercy.

Spirit of unity, you build up when we break down; you unite when we divide; you comfort when we condemn; and so we ask:
Lord, have mercy.
R. Lord, have mercy.

May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
From: http://www.dioceseofprovidence.org/serving_one_another Used with permission.

Reading:

The poor and the weak have revealed to me
the great secret of Jesus.
If you wish to follow him
you must not try to climb the ladder of success and power,
becoming more and more important.
Instead, you must walk down the ladder,
to meet and walk with people
who are broken and in pain.
The light is there, shining in the darkness,
the darkness of their poverty.
The poor with whom you are called to share your life
are the sick and the old;
people out of work,
young people caught up in the world of drugs,
people angry because they were terribly hurt
when they were young,
people with disabilities or sick with AIDS,
or just out of prison . . .
people who are oppressed
because of the colour of their skin . . .
people in pain.
— Jean Vanier, Canada

In Prayers Encircling the World: An International Anthology (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY, 1998,page 135, #164) as taken from The Broken Body by Jean Vanier, published by Darton, Longman & Todd, London. Used with permission.

Psalm 31:
Antiphon: God is my rock and my fortress.

In you, Yahweh, I take shelter;
never let me be disgraced.
In your righteousness deliver me, rescue me,
turn your ear to me, make haste!
Be a sheltering rock for me,
a walled fortress to save me!

For you are my rock, my fortress;
for the sake of your name, guide me, lead me!
Pull me out of the net they have spread for me,
for you are my refuge;
into your hands I commit my spirit,
you have redeemed me, Yahweh.

God of truth, you hate those who serve worthless idols;
but I put my trust in you:
I will exult and rejoice in your love!
You, who have seen my wretchedness
and known the miseries of my soul,
have not handed me over to the enemy.
You have given my feet space to spare.

Take pity on me, Yahweh,
I am in trouble now.
Grief wastes away my eye,
my throat, my inmost parts.

For my life is worn out with sorrow,
my years with sighs;
my strength yields under misery,
my bones are wasting away.

To every one of my oppressors
I am contemptible,
loathsome to my neighbors,
to my friends a thing of fear.

Those who see me in the street hurry past me;
I am forgotten,
as good as dead in their hearts,
something discarded.

I hear their endless slanders,
threats from every quarter,
as they combine against me,
plotting to take my life.

But I put my trust in you, Yahweh,
I say, “You are my God.”
My days are in your hand,
rescue me from the hands of my enemies and persecutors.

Let your face smile on your servant,
save me in your love.

I invoke you, Yahweh;
do not let me be disgraced,
let the disgrace fall on the wicked!
May they go speechless to Sheol,
their lying lips struck dumb
for those insolent slurs on the virtuous,
for that arrogance and contempt.

Yahweh, how great is the goodness
reserved for those who fear you,
bestowed on those who take shelter in you,
for all to see!

Safe in your presence you hide them
far from the wiles of humanity;
inside your tent you shelter them
far from the war of tongues!

Blessed be Yahweh, who performs
marvels of love for me
in a fortress-city!

In my alarm I exclaimed,
“I have been snatched out of your sight!”
Yet you heard my petition
when I called to you for help.

Love Yahweh, all you devout;
Yahweh, protector of the faithful,
will repay the arrogant with interest.
Be strong, let your heart be bold,
all you who hope in Yahweh!

Glory . . .

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Intercessions:
We bring our prayers before God who knows our prayers before we pray them, who in listening to our intercessions helps us to acknowledge the desires of our own hearts.

Each intercession may be read by a different person.

Response: Bless us with compassionate hearts.

God of compassion, many step away from people with AIDS out of ignorance or fear or denial. Help us to step toward our brothers and sisters who have AIDS, those who are an ocean away and those on the sidewalks down which we walk. Help us stand in solidarity with their suffering, in recognition of their worth, we pray . . .

God of the poor, AIDS does not discriminate by race or religion or economic class. But people do. Help us to respond to the cry of the poor for AIDS medications and health care, for food, for education, for communities of support, we pray . . .

God of the orphan, there are villages in Africa where all of the adults have died of AIDS; only their children remain. Help us to create a global village that will raise these children in love and hope into a secure future, we pray . . .

God of justice, our nation has the power to fund a large percentage of the efforts that will slow the spread of global AIDS. Strengthen our call for a national response that is wise and immediate and generous, we pray . . .

God of our inmost hurts and heartbreaks, AIDS reaches us where we live. Be with us as we call to mind the people we have loved, known, or encountered who are living with or who have died from AIDS __________ (Allow space for quiet reflection and naming people who are being prayed for at this time.) we pray . . .

We have brought our prayers for healing and compassion before God. Let us bring all these together as we pray in the words taught to us by Jesus. Our Father . . .

From: http://www.dioceseofprovidence.org/serving_one_another
Catholic Relief Services, 209 West Fayette St., Baltimore, MD 21201-3443, Phone: (800) 235-2772* FAZ (410) 234-3183 * www.catholicrelief.org. Used with permission.

Concluding Prayer
Jesus, giver of life and hope, you knew the love of a human family and the warm companionship of your disciples; and though few of them remained with you at Calvary, you found even there the support of your friend and your mother and of unnamed women. We pray that those today who live with HIV and AIDS may also be blessed with tender and loving companions, who will give them practical help in their times of need and offer them hope in their times of darkness. May they find in us too an unseen source of strength as they and we are held together in your love.

From: http://www.dioceseofprovidence.org/serving_one_another Used with permission.

AIDS Hours

Environment:

Candle, Bible

Hymn Suggestions:
City of God (Schutte)
Come to Me (Weston Priory)
Come to the Water (Foley)
I Have Loved You (Joncas)
Isaiah 49 (Landry)
O Healing Light of Christ (Landry)
Healing River of the Spirit (Beach Spring)
Precious Lord (Dorsey)
Holy Darkness (Schutte)
On Eagle’s Wings (Joncas)
Peace Is Flowing Like a River (Landry)
Shelter Me, O God (Hurd)
The Cry of the Poor (Foley)
You Are Mine (Haas)

Opening Prayer
Jesus, giver of life and hope, you knew the love of a human family and the warm companionship of your disciples; and though few of them remained with you at Calvary, you found even there the support of your friend and your mother and of unnamed women. We pray that those today who live with HIV and AIDS may also be blessed with tender and loving companions, who will give them practical help in their times of need and offer them hope in their times of darkness. May they find in us too an unseen source of strength as they and we are held together in your love.

From: http://www.dioceseofprovidence.org/serving_one_another Used with permission.

Psalm 31:
Antiphon: God is my rock and my fortress.

In you, Yahweh, I take shelter;
never let me be disgraced.
In your righteousness deliver me, rescue me,
turn your ear to me, make haste!
Be a sheltering rock for me,
a walled fortress to save me!

For you are my rock, my fortress;
for the sake of your name, guide me, lead me!
Pull me out of the net they have spread for me,
for you are my refuge;
into your hands I commit my spirit,
you have redeemed me, Yahweh.

God of truth, you hate those who serve worthless idols;
but I put my trust in you:
I will exult and rejoice in your love!
You, who have seen my wretchedness
and known the miseries of my soul,
have not handed me over to the enemy.
You have given my feet space to spare.

Take pity on me, Yahweh,
I am in trouble now.
Grief wastes away my eye,
my throat, my inmost parts.

For my life is worn out with sorrow,
my years with sighs;
my strength yields under misery,
my bones are wasting away.

To every one of my oppressors
I am contemptible,
loathsome to my neighbors,
to my friends a thing of fear.

Those who see me in the street hurry past me;
I am forgotten,
as good as dead in their hearts,
something discarded.

I hear their endless slanders,
threats from every quarter,
as they combine against me,
plotting to take my life.

But I put my trust in you, Yahweh,
I say, “You are my God.”
My days are in your hand,
rescue me from the hands of my enemies and persecutors.

Let your face smile on your servant,
save me in your love.

I invoke you, Yahweh;
do not let me be disgraced,
let the disgrace fall on the wicked!
May they go speechless to Sheol,
their lying lips struck dumb
for those insolent slurs on the virtuous,
for that arrogance and contempt.

Yahweh, how great is the goodness
reserved for those who fear you,
bestowed on those who take shelter in you,
for all to see!

Safe in your presence you hide them
far from the wiles of humanity;
inside your tent you shelter them
far from the war of tongues!

Blessed be Yahweh, who performs
marvels of love for me
in a fortress-city!

In my alarm I exclaimed,
“I have been snatched out of your sight!”
Yet you heard my petition
when I called to you for help.

Love Yahweh, all you devout;
Yahweh, protector of the faithful,
will repay the arrogant with interest.
Be strong, let your heart be bold,
all you who hope in Yahweh!

Glory . . .

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Reading Suggestions:
Jeremiah 8:18—9:1
Matthew 8:14-17
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
James 5:14-16

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:
Blessed be our God who hears our cries and heals broken hearts.

Intercessions:
For all those who live with the effects of HIV/AIDS, we pray . . .
For all those who wait to die because they have no access to medication, we pray . . .
For the children who received HIV as a legacy from their parents, we pray . . .
For orphans and families who have lost loved ones, we pray . .
For those who are stigmatized and ignored because they have AIDS, we pray . . .
For researchers and scientists who work tirelessly to find a cure, we pray . . .
For healthcare workers and caregivers who comfort and encourage, we pray . . .
For all who have lost hope because of AIDS, we pray . . .
For those who have died with AIDS and all those who mourn their passing, we pray . . .

Adapted from a prayer written by Carol Penner of Vineland, Ontario for Peace Ministries as it appeared on http://www.christianaid.org

Our Father

Closing Prayer:
God of all compassion,
comfort your sons and daughters
who live with AIDS.
Spread over us all your quilt of mercy, love, and peace.

Open our eyes to your presence
reflected in their faces.
Open our ears to your truth echoing in their hearts.

God of life, help us find the cure now
and help us build a world in which no one dies alone
and where everyone lives accepted, wanted, and loved.

In solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS throughout the world,
with our missionaries who minister to them
and in Jesus’ name, we make this prayer.

Adapted from the Maryknoll AIDS Prayer as found in http://www.dioceseofprovidence.org/serving_one_another. Used with permission.

Four Women Martyrs of El Salvador: Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donovan, Maura Clark

Environment Suggestions:

Christ Candle, Latin American cloth, Bible, four candles.

Hymn Suggestions:

Blest Are They (Haas)
Unless A Grain of Wheat (Farrell)
Unless A Grain of Wheat (Hurd)
Eagle’s Wings (Joncas)
God Has Chosen Me (Farrell)

Psalm Suggestions:

72; 75; 86; 127; 146

Reading Suggestions:

Matthew 5:3-12; Matthew 10:37-39; Luke 6:20-26; John 12:24-25

Leader:

Their laughter is silent now. Their voices of concern can no longer be heard. Sporadic gunfire invades the stillness of the afternoon. Their energy is not visible now. And there is sorrow in the eyes of those who loved them. Their words of prayer that resounded through the hushed evening are quiet now. The people whisper, hushed, frightened and concerned. Their gospel message has been silenced by death. Tears flow freely in the evening rain as the people remember.

Reader 1:

Lights a candle from Christ candle and holds it, reading the words of Sr. Maura Clarke:
“The endurance of the poor and their faith through this terrible pain is constantly pulling me to a deeper faith response. My fear of death is being challenged constantly as children and old people are being shot… I want to stay on now. I believe that God is present in His seeming absence.”

All:

The light shines on in darkness; the darkness cannot overcome it.

Reader 2:

Lights candle from Christ Candle, holds it, reading the words of Jean Donovan:
“I think that the hardships one endures maybe is God’s way of taking you out into the desert to prepare you to meet and love Him more fully.”

All:

The light shines on in darkness; the darkness cannot overcome it.

Reader 3:

Lights candle from Christ Candle, holds it, while reading words of Sr. Ita Ford:
“Am I willing to suffer with the people here, the powerless? Can I say to my neighbors, ‘I have no solutions to this situation; I don’t know the answers, but I will walk with you, be with you? Can I let myself be evangelized by this opportunity?’”

All:

The light shines on in darkness; the darkness cannot overcome it.

Reader 4:

Lights candle from Christ Candle, holds it, while reading words of Sr. Dorothy Kazel:
“El Salvador is a country writhing in pain—a country that daily faces the loss of so many of its people—and yet a country that is waiting, hoping, and yearning for peace.”

All:

The light shines on in darkness; the darkness cannot overcome it.


Leader:

Let it be heard and known far and near that Christ the light of the world continues to live in his people. Maura, Jean, Ita, and Dorothy, thank you for sharing this message with us. Amen.

Gospel Canticle:

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it cannot bear fruit.

Intercessions:

We have Maura, Jean, Ita, and Dorothy supporting us in the search for meaning in our world. Now we pray with confidence.

Response: God of our redemption, hear our prayer.
For a rebirth of hope in our world, hope that cannot be changed, we pray…
For a rebirth of justice that will prevail through our dedication to it, we pray…
For a rebirth of truth in our communities, our nation our world, we pray…
For a rebirth of courage to live lives rooted in gospel faith, we pray…
For a rebirth of remembrance of the legacy left to us by these four women, we pray…
For what else shall we pray? Pause to add any further intentions.

Closing Prayer:

Loving and Compassionate God, make us prophets of your word. Open our ears and our hearts to hear the words of your prophets, our sisters Ita Ford, Maura Clark, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, as they challenge us to take you at your word, to feel within us your urgent cry for justice in our world. May we take that cry as our own and become instruments of your justice and peace as we pray together the prayer that Jesus taught us.

Our Father:

Blessing:

Echoing the words of our sister, Ita Ford, we ask our loving God to help each of us to find deep meaning in our lives, something worth living for, even worth dying for. Now let us pray for God’s blessing:

God, our redeemer and our hope, bless this community which has come together to remember our beloved martyrs of El Salvador, Maura, Jean, Ita, and Dorothy.
pause
God, our redeemer, you promised us life, and so we come to you with confidence in our redemption. AMEN.

God, our hope, you have given us the example of these martyrs so that we can find the way to fullness of life in this world. AMEN

God, our strength, you have promised us everything we need to follow you on the path of truth and justice so that we can go from this place with the assurance that you accompany us on the way. AMEN.

Concluding Hymn

Prayer to Close the School of the Americas and to Remember the 30th Anniversary of the Murder of the Four American Churchwomen

Let us place our efforts for peace and justice before our God. Let us remember daily our call to be a voice for the poor.

Let us stand in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those who have gone before us in the day of nonviolence.

OPENING PRAYER

Leader:

+ Mindful of those who are victims, and the families and friends of victims of SOA abuse;

+ Mindful of the SOA military men and women;

+ Mindful of those gathered in corporate witness this year at Fort Benning’s Gate;

+ Mindful of our Sisters Loretta Schaff, Maureen Fox, Ruth Bernadette O’Connor and Sara Marks, who will represent us in El Salvador at the 30th anniversary remembrance of the deaths of the Church Women.

All:

We pray in the name of our God of Life, Love and Mercy and in union with all people of good will throughout the world. We need God’s wisdom and love to be peacemakers in our times. We ask that your gift of wisdom be with all of us as we ponder; pray, and act to discontinue the injustices connected with the School of the Americas. Amen.

Song: We Are Called – David Haas

INVOCATION

Let us believe passionately the words of scripture: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.” We are gathered together today to pray in solidarity with the transforming witness of our sisters and brothers at the School of the Americas. We are one with them in their hope; we are one with our brothers and sisters in Central and South America in their thirst for justice; we are one in the Spirit of God who urges us: “live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly before me.” Let us cry to God to witness to this transforming action today.

Side 1: God, send out your Spirit. Renew the face of the earth. The tools for death rooted in the School of the Americas (WHISC) spread a poison on our land. Rain down, rain down your peace! Let it flood the grounds at the School of the Americas, bringing a transformed and life-giving spirit to it.

Side 2: Show your truth to all who have been misled by a false belief in military might. Transform the minds and hearts of all who strive to be masters of war. Make them servants of peace.

Side 1: Lead us from death to Life, from falsehood to truth. From despair to hope, from fear to trust.

Side 2: 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.

All: Let the goodness of God cry out today, and let this land come to life with God’s saving grace.

Romero’s Challenge to the Churches:

Reader 1. It is the poor who tell us what the world is, and what the Church’s service to the world should be. It is within this world devoid of human face, this contemporary sacrament of the suffering servant of Yahweh that the Church of my archdiocese has undertaken to incarnate itself.

Reader 2. The world of the poor, with its very concrete social and political characteristics, teaches us where the Church can incarnate itself in such a way that it will avoid the false universalism that inclines the Church to associate itself with the powerful. The world of the poor teaches us that the sublimity of Christian love ought to be mediated through the overriding necessity of justice for the majority.

Reader 3. The Church is in the world so as to bring the liberating love of God, manifested in Christ. It therefore understands Christ’s preference for the poor, because the poor are…those who place before the Latin American Church a challenge and a mission that it cannot sidestep and to which it must respond with a speed and boldness adequate to the urgency of the times.

Reader 4. The Church can be Church only as long as it goes on being the Body of Christ. Its mission will be authentic only so long as it is the mission of Jesus in the new situations, the new circumstances of history. It is the church’s duty in history to lend its voice to Christ so that he may speak; its feet so that he may walk in today’s world; its hands to build the reign of God, and to offer all its members “to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ”.

Reader 5. The Church would betray its own love for God and its fidelity to the Gospel if it stopped being “the voice of the voiceless,” a defender of the rights of the poor, a promoter of every just aspiration for liberation, a guide, an empowerer, a humanizer of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society, a society that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history.

Proclamation: Gospel of John 10: 9-10

Silent Reflection

Leader: Let us pause to remember those who continue to speak until the violence ends. We pray especially for those who participate in civil disobedience and non-violent protest, and continue their witness from prison cells throughout the country. Let us send them our support.

Response: In solidarity, we send you peace and love.

Litany of the Martyrs:

Leader: We have been called to stand in solidarity with all who are victims of injustice in our world. Today we especially remember those who suffered and were martyred by the graduates of the School of the Americas. We pronounce their names and bring their spirit and witness before us as we respond: PRESENTE!
Indian Martyrs of massacres in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala; El Mozote, El Salvador; La Cantuta, Peru and thousands killed by the military for defending their human rights. PRESENTE!
Central American priests and religious who gave their lives for their people. PRESENTE!
Hundreds of martyred catechists and Delegates of the Word. PRESENTE!

Martyrs in the cause of human rights, Masses of unnamed men, women and children in Columbia and Argentina. PRESENTE!

Our North American sisters and brothers who gave their lives: Maureen Courtney, Stanley Rother, William Woods, Benjamin Linder. PRESENTE!

Archbishop Oscar Romero, prophet and martyr of El Salvador. PRESENTE!
Our sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Jean Donovan, Dorothy Kazel. PRESENTE!
The martyrs of the Central America University in San Salvador. PRESENTE!
Bishop Juan Gerardi, and Sister Barbara Anne Ford. PRESENTE!
Sister Dorothy Stang. PRESENTE!
Martyrs of Columbia. PRESENTE!

For the people of Honduras, struggling to restore constitutional order to their country. PRESENTE!

Closing Prayer and Blessing

Leader:
In faithfulness, “We seek to relieve misery and address its causes.” Today, we pray to end this cause of human misery, we pray to end this cause of human rights abuses. We pray for restoration of the fullness of life for all peoples, especially those most marginalized. We pray for the closure of the SOA.

God of Life, Love and Mercy, bless us with your own Spirit, so that we may be found at the gates struggling for justice, always encouraged by our common vision of fullness of life and dignity for all. This we pray in your name. Response: Amen

Renewal of Vows on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

ENVIRONMENT: a candle for each sister

OPENING ACCLAMATION:
A Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Hail, O Lady,
Holy Queen,
Mary, holy Mother of God,
who are the Virgin made Church,
chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven
whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son
and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,
in whom there was and is
all fullness of grace and every good.
Hail His Palace!
Hail His Tabernacle!
Hail His Dwelling!
Hail His Robe!
Hail His Servant!
Hail His Mother!
And hail all Your holy virtues
which are poured into the hearts of the faithful
through the grace and enlightenment
of the Holy Spirit,
that from being unbelievers,
You may make them faithful to God.

HYMN: “Ave Maria” – Plainchant

PSALM 92 Pray antiphonally.
O Yahweh, it is good to give you thanks,
to sing psalms to your name, O Most High;
to declare your love in the morning
and your faithfulness every night,
with the music of a ten-stringed lute,
to the melody of the harp.

Your acts, O Yahweh, fill me with gladness;
I shout in triumph at your mighty deeds.
How great are you deeds, Yahweh!
How deep are your thoughts!

Those who do not know this are senseless,
fools are they who do not understand this:
that though the wicked grow like grass
and every evildoer flourishes,
they will be destroyed forever.

I lift my head high, like a wild ox tossing its horns;
I am anointed with fine oils.
I see the defeat of my enemies;
I listen for the downfall of my cruel foes.

The just flourish like a palm tree,
they grow tall as a cedar of Lebanon.
Planted as they are in the house of the Creator,
they flourish in the courts of our God,
bearing fruit in old age like trees full of sap –
vigorous, wide-spreading –
eager to declare that Yahweh is just,
my Rock, in whom there is no wrong.

Glory . . .

VOW RENEWAL: With candles in hand.
I, Sister (N), renew and confirm the dedication that I made of myself to you, Most Gracious God, freely and unreservedly, through the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, according to the Rule and Life of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis and the constitutions of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. In the spirit of continuous conversion, I also renew and confirm my desire to bind myself in fidelity and love, closer to Christ and to the Church. I place this renewal and confirmation in the care of Mary, the virgin Mother of God, that I may persevere until the end of my life. Amen.

(Quiet Reflection)

SHARING:
Each sister is invited to share what her years of religious profession have meant to her.

GOSPEL CANTICLE:
Morning: “Benedictus” – Bernadette Farrell
Evening: “Magnificat” – Bernadette Farrell

INTERCESSIONS:
Response: Holy One, hear us.
For a courageous and just witness in the Church and by Church leaders, we pray . . .
For an end to war and terrorism and for peace and reconciliation among all peoples and nations, we pray . . .
For all who desire to remain faithful to their commitments, we pray . . .
For a generous response to God’s call, we pray . . .
For our sisters in initial formation and for those women and men contemplating religious life, we pray . . .
For all of our sisters on this day of renewal, we pray . . .
For the women and men who provided us with support and encouragement and are now before the face of God, we pray . . .
Other intercessions may be added.

OUR FATHER

CLOSING PRAYER:
Holy Virgin Mary,
among the women born into the world,
there is no one like you.
Daughter and servant of the most high and supreme King and of the Father in heaven,
Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ,
Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Pray for us
with Saint Michael the Archangel,
all the powers of heaven and all the saints,
at the side of your most holy beloved Son,
our Lord and Teacher.
Glory . . .

Opening acclamation and closing prayer are from Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, Volume 1: The Saint, edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press, 1999. Used with permission.

Psalm is reprinted from Psalms Anew by Nancy Schreck, OSF, and Maureen Leach, OSF, © 1984 The sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque, Iowa. Used with permission.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Introduction:

Today’s feast is a very joyous occasion especially among the Hispanic peoples. The feast dates back to 1531 and calls us to reflect upon our personal/communal efforts to be inclusive.

Environment:

Bible, candle, incense; pictures/cards, icon/statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe; colorful scarves or material; Native American art pieces, if available.

Hymn Suggestions:

You are the Honor (Deiss)
Mary, Full of Grace (O DU FR-LICHE)
Hail Mary,Gentle Woman (Landry)
Star Above the Ocean (MARIA)
Sing of Mary (PLEADING SAVIOR)
Hail, Holy Queen (SALVE REGINA COELITUM)
Remember, Holy Mary (SLOVAK HYMN TUNE)
Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming (ES IST EIN’ ROS’ ENTSPRUNGEN)

Psalm/Canticle Suggestions:

113; 122; 127; 147; 149; Ephesians 1:3-10; Revelation 19:1-7

Reading Suggestions:

Zechariah 2:14-17; Judith 13:18-20; Tobit 13:18 to end;
Revelation 11:19; Revelation 21:1-6, 10

Response: Faith Sharing:

Do we truly welcome all people in our ministry connections?

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

Let us celebrate with great devotion this day in memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary; may she intercede for us and for the people of the Americas with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Intercessions:

God has prepared a safe dwelling for all who journey in faith to the heavenly homeland. With confidence, we pray:

Response: Loving God, hear our prayer.

That the people of the Americas persevere in trusting devotion to the Mother of God, we pray…

That the gospel message of healing and unity continue to strengthen us in our work for social justice, we pray…

That our sisters ministering within and beyond the Americas be nourished daily through our common prayer, we pray…

For what else do we pray…

Our Father

Closing Prayer

O God, of infinite compassion, you have revealed your most tender mercy in the consoling words spoken to your servant, Juan Diego, by our Lady of Guadalupe. Bless all the native peoples of the Americas and of every land and may we all come to realize that our true and lasting integrity is in Jesus, our loving Savior. Amen.

Closing Prayer from People’s Companion to the Breviary, © 1997 by The Carmelites of Indianapolis. Used with permission.

Las Posadas

Introduction:

The Advent novena, Las Posadas (the inns), begins tonight. Popular in Latin America and the Philippines, this devotion commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The novena’s custom of processions at night or early dawn weave together Advent’s prayerful vigilance, the virtue of hospitality, and the commitment to social justice so appropriate at this season.

Reprinted from: Sourcebook for Sundays and Seasons 1999 by Peter J. Scagnelli © 1998, Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1-800-933-1800. www.ltp.org. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Procession:
To enter into the spirit of this feast, your group may want to process through the house with Mary and Joseph, remembering their plight searching for lodging and joining in solidarity with all our homeless sisters and brothers who also long for warmth and shelter.

Hymn Suggestions:

Process to an “inn,” while singing one verse of a song.
Bring Forth The Kingdom (Haugen)
People Look East (BESANCON)
We Are Called (Haas)
The Cry of the Poor (Foley)

Reading:

1 Samuel 2:1-2
Process to an “inn,” while singing one verse of a song.

Reading:

1 Samuel 2:3-8
Process to an “inn,” while singing one verse of a song.
Sit in the gathering space.

Reading:

John 13:34-35

Reflection and faith sharing:

Have I ever experienced homelessness?
How did I feel?
To whom did I go? How was I treated?
Have I ever met a homeless person?
How did I feel?
In what way did I respond?
Are there ways that we as a local community or congregation can alleviate the plight of our poor, homeless sisters and brothers?

Gospel Canticle Antiphon:

Refrain of “The Cry of the Poor” (Foley)

Litany:

Leader: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice and let the oppressed go free.

All: The soul of this nation hungers for justice.

Leader: Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor.

All: The soul of this nation hungers for compassion.

Leader: Millions of people go homeless each night in cities and towns throughout our country.

All: The soul of this nation hungers for housing.

Leader: Homeless people are being criminalized – arrested for sitting on sidewalks, for begging for money, for sleeping on park benches.

All: The soul of this nation hungers for mercy

Leader: Homeless people are reviled as outcasts, rejected as untouchables, driven out of our cities and out of our hearts.

All: The soul of the nation hungers for forgiveness and tolerance.

Leader: We seek to mend the brokenness caused by poverty; we seek to heal the brokenness of our own hardened hearts; we seek an end to the cruel persecution of the poor.

All: The soul of this nation hungers for deliverance from our fear, our greed, from our sinfulness.

Our Father

Closing Prayer:
God of the poor and homeless, you gave us Advent hope in sending Jesus your Son to be our Savior. Help us to be grateful for all your gifts to us and give us the courage to share our gifts with the poor of the world. Amen.

Adapted from the opening prayer service for A Fast for Justice, Religious Witness with Homeless People, an interfaith coalition based in San Francisco, organized in 1995. Used with permission.

Christmas Day Meal Prayer Options

Giver of all good gifts, especially of your child, Jesus, we thank you for gathering us around this table of plenty. Bless us as we share this meal. Bless this food and our conversation; let both be nourishing for us. Let every meal be a reminder of you, Word made flesh, one who was needy like us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

_________________________

Litany of Thanks:

For the gift of your child, Jesus,
We give you thanks and praise.
For the fragrance of evergreens,
For the light in windows and on trees,
For the joy of giving and receiving gifts,
For the delight of laughter,
For the beauty of song and music,
For the talents and generosity of those who prepared this meal,
For our awareness of the poor,
For the gift of family and friends,
For the simplicity of our hearts,
For the generosity of your love,

_________________________

As we gather, we sing: “Joy to the World”