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Litany of Non-Violence delivers a powerful message

“…we beg the grace of non-violent hearts.” These final words of the Sisters of Providence Litany of Non-Violence have become like a mantra to me, asking God to soften my heart and transform me into a person of peace. Both a powerful prayer and thoughtful meditation, the litany was written by a group of sisters at the first Sisters of Providence International Justice Network Gathering in 1992. In the years since, many people have come to love and embrace its message not only of non-violence but also of care of creation and of each other.

Left picture: Smoke billowed 20,000 feet above Hiroshima while smoke from the burst of the first atomic bomb had spread over 10,000 feet on the target at the base of the rising column on Aug. 6, 1945. Right picture: Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, taken by Charles Levy. (Wikimedia Commons photo.)

Left picture: Smoke billowed 20,000 feet above Hiroshima while smoke from the burst of the first atomic bomb had spread over 10,000 feet on the target at the base of the rising column on Aug. 6, 1945. Right picture: Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, taken by Charles Levy. (Wikimedia Commons photo.)

In my own community on Whidbey Island in northwest Washington, printed copies of the litany are always available at my Catholic parish. Our Peace and Justice Commission members pray it together at each meeting. The litany is also prayed at the annual Interfaith Vigil of Peace and Hope hosted by the local Episcopal parish and it has been printed in at least one issue of the monthly newsletter of the nearby Methodist congregation. A quick search of the Internet reveals use of the litany by a community of Sisters of St. Joseph in upstate New York and its inclusion in the program for an observance of International Peace Day in Dubuque, Iowa. Those are just instances of use one can easily discover. I’m certain there are many who have made the litany a part of their personal prayer practice. I wonder if 21 years ago the sister authors could have envisioned the impact their work would have.

In our increasingly violent world such a prayer as the Litany of Non-Violence delivers a powerful message, and today, Aug. 6, is a particularly appropriate day for us to meet or become reacquainted with that message. On this date in 1945 an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan and three days later, on Aug. 9, another was dropped on Nagasaki. For the sake of all humanity, let us pray such events are never repeated.

Provident God,
aware of our own brokenness,
we ask the gift of courage
to identify how and where we are in need of conversion
in order to live in solidarity with all Earth’s people.

Deliver us from the violence of superiority and disdain.
Grant us the desire, and the humility,
to listen with special care to those
whose experiences and attitudes are different from our own.

Deliver us from the violence of greed and privilege.
Grant us the desire, and the will, to live simply
so others may have their just share of Earth’s resources.

Deliver us from the silence
that gives consent to abuse, war and evil.
Grant us the desire, and the courage,
to risk speaking and acting for the common good.

Deliver us from the violence
of irreverence, exploitation and control.
Grant us the desire, and the strength,
to act responsibly within the cycle of creation.

God of love, mercy and justice,
acknowledging our complicity
in those attitudes, action and words which perpetuate violence,
we beg the grace of non-violent hearts.

Amen.

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Lorraine Kirker

Lorraine Kirker was taught by the Sisters of Providence at St. Polycarp School in Somerville, MA. A Providence Associate since 2010, Lorraine has served on the Congregation Peace with Justice Committee (currently Justice Coordinating Commission). A retired Naval Officer, Lorraine lives on Whidbey Island in Washington state where she is active in her parish, St. Hubert Catholic Church in Langley, and in the local fiber art community.

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1 Comment

  1. Rita Clare on August 12, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Loarraine, thanks for your very good article on the need for all of us to pray and reflect on the Litany of Nonviolence. I was happy to learn that this prayer is available not only in your church, but also in the Christian churches in your area. For a number of years, we distributed hundreds of copies at the large gatherings at Ft. Benning, Georgia. This is part of my daily prayers.

    Rita Clare Gerardot, SP

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