Late Sunday night, I received a message from our Vicar General that our Bishop will be celebrating a liturgy at our Cathedral in solidarity with Pope Francis this Saturday. The Pope called for Saturday, September 7, 2013, the eve of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to be a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria and other places of conflict and war. So I spent most of my Labor Day putting together a prayer service that was not a Mass, but was penitential in nature, Marian in feel, ecumenical, traditional, and accessible enough for non-churchgoers who felt called to gather with others to pray for peace. And it had to be at least an hour or so with some flexibility at the end for private prayer and vigiling. Did I mention it also had to be somewhat bilingual (Spanish and English)?
Going through my files, I saw that we had already celebrated several evening prayers for peace as a diocese at particularly turbulent times in our world. So I immediately thought of doing Evening Prayer again—the Magnificat would have been perfect. But this liturgy would take place at 8:00p, long after the Cathedral’s Saturday evening Mass for Sunday. It just didn’t feel right to do Evening Prayer once we had already begun the Sunday observance. So we went instead with Compline and extended out several of its parts. I decided not to use the assigned psalms so as to use more penitential psalm settings familiar to our diocese, and I mixed and match a lot of texts in order to attend to the focus of the Pope’s intention.
If it’s helpful for you, here’s a working draft of our script for what we’re calling a Night Prayer Vigil for Peace. I also sent out an invitation to all our parishes describing the liturgy, since most will be unfamiliar with Compline, and also giving ideas for what they could do at their parishes this Saturday if they could not attend the diocesan liturgy at the Cathedral.
Is your diocese or parish doing any special liturgy in response to the Pope’s call? I’d love to see what others are doing.
Continued prayers for peace in Syria, and for our leaders, wisdom, prudence, and perseverance for justice.