A PRAYER FOR AMERICA

By Cliff Garvey

On April 19, 1995, I walked from my office on Capitol Street in Augusta, Maine to a briefing for congressional staffers at the Edmund S. Muskie Federal Building. At that time, I was serving as a State Office Representative for United States Senator William S. Cohen of Maine. These many years later, Senator Cohen is remembered in my heart as the best of bosses and the noblest of public servants.

The briefing that morning promised to be short and routine. The coffee and donuts came from a shop across the street. We sat in old leather chairs, around a large wood conference table. It was a bland room; a gray room. As I finished a donut, the door swung open. Two men dressed in dark suits stormed inside. They showed us badges. They identified themselves as federal marshals. They carried large handguns. They hurried us and everyone else out of the federal building. They led us into a private parking garage near the Maine State House. They told us to shelter in place.

Meanwhile, more than 1,800 miles away, first responders had arrived at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. A bomb exploded there. It killed 168 people and injured 680 others. Since that day, I have thought again and again about the darkness of soul it must take for a young man to betray his country and murder so many of his fellow citizens: men, women, and even young children at a day care center. How could anyone be so angry? How could anyone be so cruel? How could anyone be so deranged? Such questions come to mind after every mass shooting and every terrorist attack. Such questions have come to mind more and more during these last four frightful years.

The attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2020 should be remembered by all of us as an act of insurrection, as an act of domestic terrorism. If those thugs had carried guns into the capitol building, instead of idolatrous banners, the outcome could have devastated the democratic experiment that began on these shores more than two centuries ago. In any case, the sight of a violent mob charging into the chambers and offices of our elected representatives should be seared into our memories as a dark day in American history

Those who are far away from places like Oklahoma City, Boston, Ground Zero, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. may sometimes wonder: Why? What if? What next? What should we do now? Come what may, we can vote with a formed and faithful conscience. We can hold our civic leaders accountable for their deplorable actions. We can hold our faith leaders responsible for their unbelievable silence. We can labor in the Lord’s vineyard and promote faith, hope, and love among and between all people everywhere. We can work to promote fraternity, justice, and solidarity. We can become instruments of God’s peace and reconciliation in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our nation, all around the world, beyond every border.

We can also pray without ceasing for our divided country, our wounded church, and our sick and suffering world. May God bless America. May God heal us, protect us, and have mercy on us. May the Lord bring us peace, now and always. Amen.

A PRAYER FOR AMERICA

All good and gracious God,
you are the creator
of heaven and earth,
master of the universe,
and parent of all human hearts.

Help us understand,
once and for all,
that all of our liberties,
all of our rights,
and all of our riches belong to you.
They are only entrusted to us:
to be used well
and to help us do what is right.

Help us understand,
once and for all,
that all of our hopes,
all of our dreams,
and all of our passions belong to you.
They are only entrusted to us:
to be lived well and tempered
by your gifts of reason and conscience.

Help us understand,
now and always,
that we are only free,
we are only great,
and we are only exceptional,
when we do what we are called to do,
not just what we want to do.

Help us understand,
now and always,
that we are one people,
children of the same God,
brothers and sisters,
neighbors and friends,
beckoned to serve not ourselves,
but your good,
the only good,
the common good.

Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us!

A PRAYER FOR AMERICA

About the Author & Presenter

Cliff Garvey is a co-founder of the Assisi Project. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, Saint John Seminary College, and the Catholic University of America. Cliff is a writer, spiritual director, retreat leader, and university lecturer. He also serves as Associate Minister of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in Massachusetts where his ministry focuses on adult faith formation. Thank you for listening to A Prayer for America. These audio recordings are produced by the Assisi Project, Inc. For more information about the Assisi Project: A Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit and our ministries for adults of all ages and backgrounds, please contact Cliff at cgarvey@assisiproject.com. Copyright 2021. All rights reserved. May the Lord give you peace!

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A FRANCISCAN NIGHT PRAYER

Saint Paul writes: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16).” For centuries, Christians have puzzled over what it means to pray without ceasing. But one ancient practice provides an answer: the Liturgy of the Hours.

Since the middle ages, the Church has used a daily practice of prayer called the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours to mark, sanctify, and make holy the various hours of the day: morning, afternoon, evening, and night. It is based on a four week cycle of psalms, canticles, and scripture readings that call us into a deeper spiritual relationship with Christ and the Church by bringing us together through prayers of praise, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving.

At ordination, our deacons and priests make solemn promises to pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day, using a book called the Breviary. But the Divine Office is not just for the clergy and those consecrated to religious life. Countless lay people around the world make the Liturgy of the Hours part of their daily prayer and worship. Indeed, when we pray these prayers, whether alone or in community, we are united in a powerful spiritual communion that helps to heal, redeem, and consecrate our sick and suffering world.

Unlike the other hours of the Divine Office, Compline (or Night Prayer) works on a seven day cycle. Every Sunday, the prayers are the same. Every Monday, the prayers are the same. And so on. According to the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours: “Night Prayer is the last prayer of the day, said before retiring, even if that is after midnight.” And about this form of prayer, Pope Francis says: “I am very attached to the Breviary…It is the first thing that I open in the morning & the last thing I close before going to sleep.”

In this spirit, in solidarity with Pope Francis, and in communion with Christian disciples around the world, all are invited to join us in offering the Assisi Project’s A Franciscan Night Prayer. This newly created version of Night Prayer includes the traditional psalms, readings, and canticle of the day. It also includes antiphons, readings, and a Marian devo- tion from the Franciscan Spiritual Tradition.

A Franciscan Night Prayer can be prayed by listening to one of our free podcasts (audio recordings), following along with the print version, or praying silently with the print version. All of these resources are free and available at the links below! Each podcast is less than ten minutes! Click the link! Let’s pray together! For more information, please contact Cliff Garvey at cgarvey@assisiproject.com. May the Lord give you peace!

A Franciscan Night Prayer

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ABOUT US

Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers throughout the world. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project is a non-profit, tax exempt charitable organization. All are welcome to support our ministry via PayPal or AmazonSmile (links below); or by sending a tax-deductible donation to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931-3158. For more information about the Assisi Project and our upcoming opportunities for formation, prayer, and pilgrimage, please contact Cliff Garvey at cgarvey@assisiproject.com. May the Lord give you peace!

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