Prayers and reparation

"We must be signs of God's love which practices justice. Justice promotes right relationships which involves upholding the dignity of human life," the National Black Catholic Congress said in a mid-July statement as the nation was mourning the deaths of black men and police officers in Baton Rouge, La., Dallas, and a suburb of St. Paul, Minn.

Believing in the power of prayer to transform lives, the congress called for "all people of good will" to begin a monthlong action of prayer and contemplation. The congress challenged all to pray the following daily from July 18 until Aug. 15:

O God, who gave one origin to all peoples
and willed to gather from them one
   family for yourself,
fill all hearts, we pray, with the fire of
   your love
and kindle in them a desire
for the just advancement of their
that, through the good things
   which you richly bestow upon all,
each human person may be brought to
every division may be removed,
and equity and justice may be
   established in human society.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your
who lives and reigns with you in the
   unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
-- Collect, Votive Mass for the Progress of Peoples, the Roman Missal

The statement from the National Black Catholic Congress went on to say, "It is important for Black Catholics to contribute to the ongoing national conversation about the underlying issues which have existed for too long. These issues include racism, inequality, poverty, and violence. During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we must be signs of God's love which promotes justice. Justice promotes right relationships, which includes upholding the dignity of human life."

Read more about this conversation among African-American Catholics in Peter Feuerherd's story (see story).

As I read over this prayer, I realized it complemented our editorial (see story). We don't normally advocate praying over our editorials, but in this case that may not be a bad idea.

The statement from the Black Catholic Congress also notes that Fridays are a traditional day of penance for Catholics and encourages all "on Fridays to accompany our prayers for justice with acts of reparation." Another fine idea.

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