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Mercy, forgiveness in our DNA

From the First Friday Committee

The Easter Season is an appropriate time to reflect on ourselves as Christians. Do we really believe that Christ is risen and is with us? What in our DNA tells us that we are Christians? The words that come to mind are mercy, forgiveness, and hope.

At a recent meeting at which His Excellency Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu spoke he stressed that what God wants is mercy not sacrifice and that the novelty of Christianity is to love like Jesus, love like God, that is, not to remember our differences. Romans 3:23 also reminds us that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s grace.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis invites the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting. Why? To awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26), said St Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation. The gospel we follow is in favour of zero tolerance towards sin, not the sinner.

As we approach another First Friday let us pray for all the victims who have suffered abuse in the Church and also for all perpetrators for they too need mercy and forgiveness.

Let us make every effort to attend Mass, fast from food or anything you enjoy, be reconciled with God and neighbour and sincerely pray for transformation in the Church.

Prayer of Reparation
For crimes of abuse committed by clergy

God and Father of Mercy,

We your people come before you today in deep humility,

Aware of our own sins and asking your forgiveness.

Lord, we trust you to take care of us.

Time after time, you have rescued your people from power of their enemies,

You have renewed your covenant when your own people have broken it,

And you have healed the wounds which sin and unfaithfulness have unleashed on your sons and daughters.

Father, today we come before you invoking your mercy,

And offering you our prayers and sacrifices of reparation

For the scandalous crimes that have been committed

By some of those appointed to proclaim your Word and lead your Church.

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

We pray for the victims of these crimes, both known and unknown.

Protect them with your mighty hand,

Heal them with the soothing balm of your Spirit,

And console them with the loving presence of our heavenly Mother.

We pray for those who have committed these crimes.

Give them sincere repentance

And the humility to accept the consequences of their actions.

We pray for those responsible for correcting the abuses that have occurred.

Give them wisdom, a desire for authentic reform, and courage to carry it out.

We pray for those who have been scandalised by these crimes.

As your Son Jesus calmed the winds and waves,

Let Him speak His Word again to calm the confusion and concern in their souls.

Renew the faith of us all—

A faith which acknowledges that you have appointed shepherds to lead us

And a faith that likewise acknowledges that we have only one Master, the Christ,

And all of us are brothers and sisters.

Father, at the beginning of time,

Your Spirit hovered over the darkness and chaos,

And brought about light and life, order and beauty.

After the chaos of Good Friday and the darkness of Holy Saturday,

Your Spirit again breathed on the apostles,

And brought about a new wave of grace for the world.

Send that Spirit now

Upon our souls, upon our Church, and upon our world.

Keep our eyes fixed on you,

And renew our commitment to follow your Son,

In holiness of life,

And with the joy and peace that come only from you,

And that nobody can take away from us.

We pray with humility and with confidence,

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

by Fr Frank Pavone,