The Armchair Liturgist Addresses Connecticut

The General Intercessions/Prayers of the Faithful/Prayer Petitions/Universal Prayer continue to be a liturgical locus where the universal and the personal and the places in between get a bit blurred as they stir and mix together. The relevant sections of the GIRM are 69 through 71. This armchair has been the place of many important discernments over the decades.

Another mass murder tragedy unfolded at a Connecticut school yesterday. How will parishes treat this in the Sunday intercessions? Mindful that “(t)he intentions announced should be sober, be composed with a wise liberty and in few words, and they should be expressive of the prayer of the entire community,” how would you accomplish it?

Sobriety would seem to indicate that a prayer not elicit strong emotions on the part of those not directly affected by the tragedy. More children, for example, have been killed by military drones, in the Syrian civil war, and even in gun violence in American inner cities. Most of these deaths are a result of immoral judgments of adults who are generally judged to be more psychologically competent that our average lone gun. So if we get sad or angry at Mass over one set of children, and not others, has the liturgy itself become a selective tool for tears or grumbling outrage?

Our liberty in composition would give us leeway to pray for the victims, to pray for the mourners, to pray for the perpetrators, or to pray for the change required that such incidents become rare or non-existent. Or if it can be accomplished with an economy of words, maybe all of the above. Can your community get behind such a prayer? Would it have to exclude gun control? Should it include the basic human inclination to sin, and even to commit violence against people whom we love? In doing this, would a prayer have a prayer of being effective, if child abusers, anger addicts, and others of violence in our midst were to wake up somehow and respond to God’s graceful poke to get some help? We might all agree such an event would be a good thing. Would it fit the bill? Or must it be worded as generally and as blandly as possible?

How would you word such an intention in your Sunday petitions? Offer it up in the combox, if you would, please.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist Addresses Connecticut

  1. Here’s what we’re doing this weekend:

    For all the people of Newtown, Connecticut
    and especially for the families of those who died:
    for their consolation, their healing and their peace,
    let us pray to the Lord…

  2. Liam says:

    A close friend emailed me thoughts last night that I myself have long had about how we Americans are fed and processed news:

    “After seeing the awful things that happened today …. We’re regularly using drones, etc. to target bad guys in Afghanistan and there has been a lot of side-effect damage – lots of kids and other innocents have died when those missiles strike home. The US announces its regret (as it should), but it doesn’t raise a blip on the news or in the national consciousness other than a buried level-10 article. I would include myself – a moment of regret, and then on with the day. And yet when it’s so immediate, so ‘at home’, it becomes truly awful for everyone (news network whores whipping this up into something else aside). I guess it’s the immediacy, but I feel terrible for even getting sucked in one iota after this event and NOT getting sucked in more than one iota for the other events with a similar end-result for which we’re responsible on a regular basis. It’s all so weird and dangerous – immediacy seems to trigger moral outrage, and distance inhibits it, no matter if the end result (innocent children dying in this case) is the same. I guess it keeps us ‘sane,’ but at a terrible bigger cost.”

    Perhaps someday we might also remember to pray for the innocent victims of violence done in our name to keep us safe, and to pray for conversion of our people from unvirtuous attachment to the weapon of Caesar, which weapon is death.

  3. Charles says:

    Todd, I’ve been seriously down with bronchial pneumonia for two Sunday cycles, and therefore haven’t composed the UP for my parishes. In this instance, to answer your question, I’d probably defer to (was it?) Nieburh and we’ve the first portion of the serenity prayer as the intention.

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