Prayer Service for Victims
PRAYER SERVICE FOR VICTIMS OF CLERGY SEXUAL ASSAULT
Opening Hymn: #410, Wait for the Lord (Taize)
Collect: O God, author of true freedom, whose will it is to shape all women and men into a single people released from slavery, grant to your Church, we pray, that, as she receives new growth in freedom, she may appear more clearly to the world as the universal sacrament of salvation, manifesting and making present the mystery of your love for all. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. [Roman Missal, Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions, Mass for Reconciliation]
Scripture Reading: A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come! If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones,for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” The Gospel of the Lord.
Hymn: #538, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Taize)
Candle Lighting Ceremony: Instrumental
[The presider invites all those present who knew someone, either a family member or friend, who has been victimized by clergy sexual assault or otherwise to come forward. When these persons come forward they are handed a lighted tea-light candle, and then they are invited to place their individual candle down in front of a statue of the child Jesus. Once they have placed their candles at the feet of the child Jesus, these persons can return to their seats. The lighting in the church should be dimmed during this ceremony. After all of the candles have been placed on the devotional table dedicated to the child Jesus, then the congregation is asked to sing together a reflective hymn.]
Hymn: #484, Stay with Me (Taize)
Psalm of Lament: Psalm 51 [All are invited to kneel during the recitation of this Psalm]
General Intercessions [usccb.org, Rosary for Healing and Protection, the Sorrowful Mysteries]
Our Response is: Lord, hear our prayer.
Many survivors of sexual abuse suffer in silence for years, wrestling alone with the agony of their memories and pain. We pray that the Church may always be a place where they can come to share their stories, be received in love and compassion, and be supported on the path to healing. We pray to the Lord.
The experience of sexual abuse may leave scars no less profound than the scars of a scourging, though they often remain unseen. We must strive to make our parish communities places where survivors can feel safe to share their burdens and to find healing and peace. We pray to the Lord.
Those who have survived sexual abuse may feel isolated from the community, set apart and unwelcome. Jesus must have felt the same as the soldiers mocked and tortured him. As members of Christ’s Body, the Church, we are called to see Christ in our brothers and sisters in need and offer them our aid, comfort, and support. We pray to the Lord.
Simon helped Jesus carry his cross, helping him bear the weight and the burden. So must we help survivors of sexual abuse bear the weight and burden of their experiences, helping them to find healing God who is light and life. We pray to the Lord.
We commend into God’s hands all those who are at risk for sexual abuse, those who are doing the hard work of healing, and those who are not yet ready to begin the healing process. Through our prayers, efforts, and sacrifices, may they come to know the peace and wholeness that only God can bring. We pray to the Lord.
Presider: At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching we dare to say,
God of endless love
ever caring, ever strong
always present, always just;
You gave your only Son to save us by his Blood on the Cross. Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace,
join to your own suffering
the pain of all who have been hurt
in body, mind, and spirit
by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.
Hear the cries of our brothers and sisters
who have been gravely harmed,
and the cries of those who love them.
Soothe their restless hearts with hope,
steady their shaken spirits with faith.
Grant them justice for their cause,
enlightened by your truth.
Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts,
heal your people’s wounds
and transform brokenness into wholeness.
Grant us the courage and wisdom,
humility and grace, to act with justice.
Breathe wisdom into our prayers and labors.
Grant that all harmed by abuse find peace in justice.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen. [usccb.org, Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse]
Presider: The Lord be with you.
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge of love of God, and of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Closing Hymn: #783, Here I am, Lord (Taize)