May the Sacrament of your Son, which we have received,
increase our strength, we pray, O Lord,
that from this mystery of unity
we may drink deeply of love’s power
and everywhere promote your peace.
Through Christ our Lord.
The lines above are from the Prayer after Communion in the Ritual Mass for Reconciliation in the Roman Missal. Along with the prayer composed by Teresa Berger , they strike me as particularly apt for these days, whether we are talking about Dallas or Baton Rouge, Orlando or San Bernardino. Or Nigeria or Yemen. Or Bangladesh or Iraq.
I do not want to suggest here that if only we have more / enough Ritual Masses for Reconciliation (or prayer services or Masses in time of civil disturbance, etc.,), then tensions over race and religion and culture will abate. But if our prayers and homilies and rituals never name or confront harmful ideologies about race, religion, and culture then we deprive the liturgy of a part of its lifeblood—which is our blood, sweat, and tears (tears of joy, yes, but also tears of anguish). Liturgy becomes disincarnate, as though Christians worship a docetic Jesus who floated serenely above life’s trials and tribulations. We send the message that the paschal mystery, the core of Christian belief and liturgical practice, has after all nothing to say about real bloodshed in the world.
Apart from the prayer of the faithful, I do not recall any time in the past year when any part of a liturgy I attended addressed terrorism or racism. However, in the wake of the attacks of September 2001, I heard a homilist preach on God as shepherd: “We say to our shepherd: Find us!” Those impassioned words remain with me still. I invite readers to share their experiences of liturgies that did or did not address these large issues of our day.