Prayer: School of the Americas

Set a prayerful environment, with reflective music and a candle.

The leader lights a candle, saying...
May the peace of Christ, which surpasses all knowledge, be with us all.

Opening Prayer (all)
Rain down your love upon us, O God of Mercy.
Fill us with a spirit of justice and peace.
Guide us in merciful ways
And strengthen our hearts and minds to know You.

Reading Micah 4:1-4
In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house 
Shall be established as the highest of the mountains; 
it shall rise high above the hills, 
Peoples shall stream to it:
many nations shall come, and say, 
"Come, let us climb the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, 
That he may instruct us in his ways, that we may walk in his paths." 
For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 
He shall judge between many peoples and impose terms on strong and distant nations; 
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; 
One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.

A few moments of quiet reflection.

Leader, then all repeat: 
Our God speaks peace to the people

Reader 1:
Faithful love and loyalty join together;
Saving Justice and Peace embrace. Response

Reader 2:
Loyalty will spring up from the earth
and Justice will lean down from heaven. Response.

Reader 3:
Justice will lead the way,
Making a path for peace. Response.

What follows are various selections on peacemaking, as well as remembrance of the Martyrs of El Salvador - the four churchwomen, murdered on December 2, 1980. Select one reading for your quiet reflection: What does this mean for you? What could God be calling you to do? Set aside at least ten minutes for this. You might wish to join in conversation as a common reflection.

Isaiah 58:6-8, 10
Is not the sort of fast that pleases me, to break unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the person you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin? Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over. If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word, if you give your bread to the hungry and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like noon.

James 3:13-18
Who among you is wise and understanding? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.

Matthew 5:1, 6-10
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. Jesus began to teach them, saying: 
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. 
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5: 43-48
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Pope Paul VI at the UN, October 1965
“No more war, never again war. Peace, it is peace that must guide the destinies of people and of all mankind."

Maura Clarke, MM, murdered in El Salvador December 2, 1980
One cries out, ‘Lord, how long?’ 
and then too, what creeps into my mind is the little fear or big,
that when it touches me very personally, will I be faithful.

Archbishop Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador
One who is committed to the poor must risk the same fate as the poor. And in El Salvador we know what the fate of the poor signifies: to disappear, to be tortured, to be captive and found dead.

Ita Ford MM, to her young niece in Brooklyn
….. people have found a meaning to life, to sacrifice, struggle, and ever die. And whether their life spans sixteen years, sixty or ninety, for them their life has had a purpose. In many ways, they are fortunate people. Brooklyn is not passing through the drama of El Salvador, but some things hold true wherever one is, and at whatever age. What I’m saying is that I hope you can come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you, something that energizes you, enthuses you, and enables you to keep moving ahead.

Gaudium et Spes, Vatican II, paragraph 82
Efforts …have already been made and are still under way to eliminate the danger of war and not to be underrated. On the contrary, support should be given to the good will of the very many leaders who work hard to do away with war, which they abominate. ….these leaders are motivated by the very grave peacemaking task to which they are bound…It is a work of supreme love for humanity.

Daniel Berrigan, SJ in Sojourners, March 2010
The question in my mind has never been, “What do we do next?” That’s not the real question. The real questions are, “Are we working at community? Are we working at listening? Are we serious about the world? And how is that showing itself? What is our sense of one another in the larger circle of suffering in the city and in our world?”

Shared Reflection

Merciful God, listen to our prayers.
For a world of peace, 
That people might be free from fear, free to live, and love, and prosper, we pray:
For world governments,
That they will support structures of justice and equality for all people, we pray:
For those whose lives have been taken by violence:
For all those children, women and men who have been murdered,
For Ita, Maura, Dorothy and Jean, 
For those who have been tortured or “disappeared”
that they might be at peace in the kingdom of the saints: we pray
For an end to war and all preparations for war, we pray:
That the School of the Americas 
and all other institutions that support violence will be closed, 
and funding moved to support works of peace: we pray:
For what else shall we pray?
Let us wrap these petitions in the words Jesus gave us,
Our Father…

Concluding Prayer (all)
God of Mercy You who are Peace and Justice itself, 
Strengthen our efforts to be witnesses of truth and justice in our world.
May longed-for peace blossom forth and reign always over us all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Concluding Hymn
'Let There Be Peace on Earth'
'God of Day and God of Darkness'
'We Are Called'
'The Harvest of Justice'
'Let Justice Roll Like a River'
'Voices That Challenge'
Or another song that fits the gathering.

                                            --Written by Sister Sheila C. Browne, RSM