More than 50 people joined for the first night of the Novena for Our Country that we are sponsoring together with St. Augustine and St. Francis Xavier. The novena is being said nightly via Zoom at 5 PM through next Tuesday. For more information, see the “Invitation to Novena for Our Country”. Don’t worry if you missed the first night, you are welcome to join in.
As I mentioned last night, I have received wonderful suggestions for prayers and readings for upcoming nights of the novena. I encourage you to keep emailing them to me, [email protected]. This has truly been a communal effort in a time that certainly needs one, and I see my role for this novena as primarily being editor.
Please make your suggestions based on the following format:
A. Entrance Antiphon: Short scripture verse
B. Opening Prayer: Collects from the Roman Missal are appropriate; as well as the several suggestions from the Book of Common Prayer (1928 and 1976)
C. Reading: Most suggestions to date have been from Fratelli Tutti chapter 5. We will use these until Thursday. Other ideas welcome. We have had one from Bishop Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and one from St Pope John Paul 2nd. Please give enough text to supply some background.
C. Scripture response: Keep it short and simple.
D. Concluding Prayer: People have been very creative.
E. Final Blessing: This is the only part that will be said by a priest.
I have included the readings until Thursday below, but you can send prayers whether they fit these readings or not for future use. There will be a special emphasis on Mary for Saturday.
Let us support each other in this most difficult and dangerous time.
Fr. Bill Smith
Upcoming Novena Readings
For the next several nights of the novena, we will reflect on selections from the Pope’s recent encyclical:
178. In the face of many petty forms of politics focused on immediate interests, I would repeat that “true statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term common good. Political powers do not find it easy to assume this duty in the work of nation-building”, much less in forging a common project for the human family, now and in the future. Thinking of those who will come after us does not serve electoral purposes, yet it is what authentic justice demands. As the Bishops of Portugal have taught, the earth “is lent to each generation, to be handed on to the generation that follows”.
179. Global society is suffering from grave structural deficiencies that cannot be resolved by piecemeal solutions or quick fixes. Much needs to change, through fundamental reform and major renewal. Only a healthy politics, involving the most diverse sectors and skills, is capable of overseeing this process. An economy that is an integral part of a political, social, cultural and popular programme directed to the common good could pave the way for “different possibilities which do not involve stifling human creativity and its ideals of progress, but rather directing that energy along new channels”
180. Recognizing that all people are our brothers and sisters, and seeking forms of social friendship that include everyone, is not merely utopian. It demands a decisive commitment to devising effective means to this end. Any effort along these lines becomes a noble exercise of charity. For whereas individuals can help others in need, when they join together in initiating social processes of fraternity and justice for all, they enter the “field of charity at its most vast, namely political charity This entails working for a social and political order whose soul is social charity. Once more, I appeal for a renewed appreciation of politics as “a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good”
181 This means acknowledging that “love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world”
190. Political charity is also expressed in a spirit of openness to everyone. Government leaders should be the first to make the sacrifices that foster encounter and to seek convergence on at least some issues. They should be ready to listen to other points of view and to make room for everyone. Through sacrifice and patience, they can help to create a beautiful polyhedral reality in which everyone has a place. Here, economic negotiations do not work. Something else is required: an exchange of gifts for the common good. It may seem naïve and utopian, yet we cannot renounce this lofty aim.
191. At a time when various forms of fundamentalist intolerance are damaging relationships between individuals, groups and peoples, let us be committed to living and teaching the value of respect for others, a love capable of welcoming differences, and the priority of the dignity of every human being over his or her ideas, opinions, practices and even sins. Even as forms of fanaticism, closed-mindedness and social and cultural fragmentation proliferate in present-day society, a good politician will take the first step and insist that different voices be heard. Disagreements may well give rise to conflicts, but uniformity proves stifling and leads to cultural decay. May we not be content with being enclosed in one fragment of reality.