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Worldwide Day of Prayer & Fasting


Below you will find suggestions on how to structure a day of prayer and fasting in support of the victims of clergy sexual abuse. This devotion was first done as a worldwide day of prayer and fasting in June 2002, but it can be done anytime by anyone as an individual or group. Simply modify this prayerful day to meet your needs and circumstances. Not everyone will be able to participate in a larger, communal way. However, remember that your individual participation and devotion unites you with thousands of others, and with the power of the Spirit. VOTF would be pleased to learn of your experience, individual or communal, of this day. Please contact us at troy.mdiv@verizon.net.


Gather in your parish church, at your office, or at home. Wear a purple/red ribbon, symbolizing both our sorrow for the abuse of our children and our need for the Spirit of wisdom.

Opening Prayer: (after morning Mass)

We come together in faith and in the Spirit, the Spirit that enlivens each of us and draws us together, the Spirit that unites us. Our unity is our power, the power of the Holy Spirit manifest. May our prayer on this day move heart and minds throughout the world to the reality of the grave wound in our Church, of our movement away from our humble and holy beginnings in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

May our prayer move hearts and minds throughout the world to understand the brokenness and pain of all those abused by clergy and to reach out to heal wounds by demanding justice. May our prayer move hearts and minds to examine the truth of our Church, its wondrousness and its shame, its perpetuation of injustice and its healing and life-giving heart. Amen.

Explanation of Fasting

Distribution of Day's Program (prayers, meditations, music)


Proceeds of fasting to go to Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and The Healing Alliance Calculate the money you did not spend on food this day. Send this amount as a contribution to SNAP or The Healing Alliance, or your local chapter of these national survivors organizations.

Invocation of the Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit, come Spirit of our risen Christ, come Holy Wisdom. In our time of crisis, we call out to you. We long for your healing action in our lives, in our Church, and in our world. As you helped form the disciples of Jesus into His living presence in the world, help us, we who are baptized into Jesus' very own life and death, to truly become the Body of Christ on this earth. Make us powerful disciples of His love, His mercy, and His justice. Come, Holy Spirit, come, Spirit of our risen Christ, come, Holy Wisdom. Amen.

Suggested Songs
(Listed selections are from Breaking Bread or Music Issue from Oregon Catholic Press, and Ritual Song from Gregorian Institute of America)
"Come, Holy Ghost," OCP/GIA
"Send Us Your Spirit" (David Haas), OCP/GIA
"Spirit, Come" (Gregory Norbert), OCP

MORNING PRAYER (for all) - light candle at all prayer times
Scripture Passage: Isaiah 58.8a and 9a
"Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed."

A Litany for Healing
What can we do? We cry out to the Lord.
How can we heal? We cry out to the Lord.
Why did they suffer? We cry out to the Lord.
How can they heal? We cry out to the Lord.
How could they deceive? We cry out to the Lord.
How shall we be one? We cry out to the Lord.
"Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say, 'Here I am'."

Meditation (based on passage): Quiet Reflection

Blessing Over Food

God, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer of Life, bless this meal before us. Open our hearts to appreciate the gift of this simple nourishment. Open our hearts to be always mindful of your healing and nourishing action in our lives and in our Church. Bless the hands that tilled the earth, harvested the bounty, prepared and delivered this food to us. Bless, especially, those among us who have been abused and who hunger for healing and wholeness. Amen.

Suggested Songs:
"Bread for the World" (Bernadette Farrell),. OCP
"In the Breaking of the Bread" (Bob Hurd), use original verses, OCP/GIA
"Lord, Who At Thy First Eucharist" (William Turton), OCP
"At That First Eucharist" (William Turton), GIA


Scripture Passage: Ephesisans 4:15

"Rather, living in the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from who the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the bodyıs growth and builds itself up in love."

Meditation on Ephesians

Together we are called through our common baptism to function as the Body of Christ in our world. Each must bring their gifts, their holiness, their poverty, their brokenness to this work. Call to mind those ways in which you have acted to function as the Body of Christ to bring about healing, to build up the Body of Christ in love and justice around this crisis in our Church.

Invocation of Spirit

Suggested Songs
"We Are Many Parts" (Marty Haugen), OCP/GIA
"You Have Called Us" (Bernadette Farrell), OCP
"Sing a New Church" (Delores Dufner), OCP
"They'll Know We Are Christians" (Peter Scholtes), OCP

NOON (can be communal)

Preparation of Meal

Scripture Passage: Isaiah 58:6-9a

"This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: 'Here I am'."


Blessing Over Food

Suggested Songs:
"Let Us Break Bread Together" (traditional), OCP/GIA
"Beyond the Days" (Rick Manalo), OCP


Scripture Passage: Psalm 46:1-3

"God is our refuge and our strength, an ever present help in distress. Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea."

Meditation (on Psalm 46)

Has God been your refuge and strength and an ever present help in distress? When have you called on God in distress? How were you answered? Now, imagine the vulnerability of a child abused who wonders where God is in the midst of this abuse? Ponder a totally unprotected self. What might it be like to feel unable to see God as a refuge and strength, to have had that also taken from you? As Church, our "earth has been shaken." Where do we turn? What is our fear?

Reading: "The Fruits of the Spirit"
from Out of the Ordinary by Joyce Rupp

Surprising One, coming in ways I least expect, open me to your dynamic presence.
Awaken me, Surprising One!
Perceptive Guide, always available to direct my ways, advise me in self-discipline and decision making.
Awaken me, Perceptive Guide!
Freedom Bringer, asking for my willingness to surrender, help me to let go, to let in, to let be.
Awaken me, Freedom Bringer!
Source of Power, providing stamina and strength for my soul, support me when I am weak and vulnerable.
Awaken me, Source of Power!
Peacemaker, offering forgiveness and understanding, encourage me to communicate with love.
Awaken me, Peacemaker!
Bearer of love, never-ending font of charity and compassion, may I share my goodness generously.
Awaken me, Bearer of Love!

Prayer in Crisis

Even in our maturity we still feel in need of your protection, wondrous God, who created us out of love, for love. It is so very difficult to imagine the depths of pain and brokenness that await those abused. Help us to become healers of this awful wound. Show us the way as believers, as Church, to become brothers and sisters to those in such grave need. How difficult to imagine a life where you are not a source of "help in distress," yet this is the truth we must face. Do not let us turn our hearts and minds from this truth. In your name, lead us to those in need. Empower us be the "ever present help" needed at his painful point in our Christian history. Amen.

Suggested Songs:
"Healer of Our Every Ill" (Marty Haugen), GIA
"On Eagle's Wings" (Michael Joncas), OCP/GIA
"You Are Near" Dan Schutte, OCP


1. At Church
Liturgy: Prayers, readings, petitions of the day
Focus on Eucharist as the meal with which we break our fast
Homily: Fasting, power of Holy Spirit
Offertory: Donations of "food," money for SNAP
Prayer: Voice of the Faithful Prayer before final blessing
After Mass: Soup and bread

2. At Home
Blessing over food:
God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. We come before you this day to offer our prayer and fasting in hopes of healing the wound in our Church, the wound in the hearts and psyches of all those abused by clergy.
You are the Light, the Truth, and the Way; the Light that will illuminate the secrecy that has prevented those abused from finding healing in the Body of Christ; the Truth, which will free each of us to be genuine and powerful disciples of your love, mercy and care; the Way, to restore your peace and justice in all the works of the Church. Amen.

"Break the fast" Meal

Scripture Passage: Matthew 6:16

"When you fast, do not look gloomy like hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except your father who is hidden. And your Father who is hidden will repay you." While we want the world to know by our fasting of our support for those abused by priests, our faces are gleaming bright with hope and confidence in God's saving power.

Suggested Songs

"Christ, Be Our Light" (Bernadette Farrell), OCP
"We Are Called" (David Haas), GIA
"City of God" (Dan Schutte), OCP/GIA
Voice of the Faithful Prayer

Suggestions: Supportive actions
Send an email of support to SNAP and The Healing Alliance
Send a letter of support to victims and their families, include Opening Prayer.

Supplementary Background Material for Reflection

These are some reflections put out by LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) last December when they had a day of contemplation and fast.

A Word on Contemplation

From the beginning, God set the stars in the firmament, and humankind ever since has looked to the heavens -- to praise religiously, to wonder mystically. Within the era of exploration, navigators contemplated the stars to plot their course, and make their way through the deep waters.

From the Latin, contemplatio, comes the act of marking out space and time to observe the reality of God-with-me on my journey, and the mystery - the wonder - of such a given.

To pray is to contemplate God who says:

"When you were a child, I loved you, and out of the dark, I called you.... It was I who taught you how to walk. I took you up in my arms. I led you with cords of human kindness, with bands of love.
I was to you like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to you and fed you." -- Adapted from Hosea:11:1-9.

As I enter the contemplation from Hosea, I desire to dispose myself to experience the loving presence of God, as God chooses to give God's own self to me. I recall God's love and grace in my own history, and in my prehistroy, and determine to let God love me anew.

In the stillness, I may want to ask God to influence more of myself, that I may live with new wisdom, and renewed zeal, as companion of Jesus. I recall the gospel when Jesus took the scroll and read from Isaiah the prophet, "I have come, " he said, "to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, sight to the blind, liberty to those who are oppressed" (Luke:4:16-22). "God's dream of unity for the world, and for our Church can come in our time ... It is God's love that brings conversion, and healing to us, and through us to the world." LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious

A Word on Fasting

Abstention from food is found in many ancient and modern religions. In the Bible, fasting is a sign of sorrow, not an ascetic practice. Neither prophets, nor Jesus affirms merely external observances without internal sentiments.

Yes, fasting is clearly connected to prayer. As we attend to God, we move toward the ways of God: justice, compassion, inclusive love, and away from the seductions of affluence, which come at the expense of the poor.

In a single sentence, the prophet Micah gives profound understanding to fasting: "...what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

As we grow in a contemplative stance, we notice the "stirrings and touches of God." We find ourselves hungry for justice for all who are marginalized, and thirsting for the end of "oppression and abuse." Catching a glimpse of the Spirit of God unfolding, we trust: "...to see: to see you, gracious God; to see and experience you present and animating all things, helping to perfect the perception and expression of our vision, to the right action, the right word; the right relationship." -Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

Other reflections from LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious)(December, 2001)

"God's dream of unity for the world and for our Church can come in our time only if we are willing to change. It is God's love that will bring conversion and healing to us and through us to the world. We want to enter into contemplation where our God-given creativity may be stirred to imagine new ways of spreading Jesus' reign of peace and love.

We long for the strengthening and, where necessary, the restoration of right relationships - for that true shalom which our God of justice, our God of peace wills for all. We pray with Mary and with all the saints as we, too, await the fullness of God's reign. Entering into contemplation with this community of believers, we together...experience God's love in the quiet of contemplative prayer; know our dependence on God through our fasting; rediscover our unity with all creation and our singleness of purpose as a religious people; act with new wisdom and new energy to heal the brokenness within ourselves, in our Church and in our world."

More on Fasting

From Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

"Fasting must forever center on God. It must be God-initiated and God-ordained. Like the prophetess Anna, we need to be 'worshiping with fasting' (Luke 2:37). Fasting reminds us that we are sustained 'by every word that comes from the mouth of God' (Matt 4:4). Food does not sustain us; God sustains us. In Christ, 'All things hold together' (Colossians 1:17). Therefore, in experiences of fasting, we are not so much abstaining from food as we are feasting on the word of God."

Additional Readings and Prayers

From Faith and Imagination: The Holy Spirit and the Ministry of the Church

Transforming womb of God, conceive in us. Create anew life:
Faith, the confidence to bear
Hope, continuously expectant
Love, the true beginning.
Break forth into your living water, O birthing Spirit;
Streaming grace upon us,
Cleansing us, causing us to be whole;
Giving us this living water,
Nurturing the Nurturer: our mission.
In memory of your body and your blood,
Returning our cup to the thirsty;
Working together, laborers of the body.
Lovers in our service.
Your whole creation, our field;
Your wisdom, our teacher;
Your inspiration, our vision
Your presence, our altar.
Transforming Womb of God, conceive in us. Create anew life:
Faith, the confidence to bear
Hope, continuously expectant
Love, the true beginning.


Living and life-giving Creator, in the water of life we become one body in Christ. All are welcome, all are included, all are part of your liberation and healing. Breathe in us, flow through us, live among us. May the gift of your presence make a difference in our life, in the life of our Church, in the life of the world. Amen.

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control." Gal:5:22-23. "

Litanies of the Suffering Church Our Church is suffering and needs healing. In our anguish we pray to Jesus our Eternal Priest and ask the Holy Spirit for sustenance and guidance. We offer to God our fast, our penance, and our supplication saying:
God (Father), our maker, Hear us.
God (Father), of tender mercies, Hear us.
God (Father), of infinite compassion, Hear us.
God (Father), of the suffering Jesus, Hear us.
God (Father), consolation of those who cry, Hear us.
God (Father), companion of those who suffer, Hear us.
Jesus, our God and brother, Stay with us.
Jesus, our priest, Stay with us.
Jesus, our teacher, Stay with us.
Jesus, our humble servant, Stay with us.
Jesus, washing our feet, Stay with us.
Jesus, beaten and spat upon, Stay with us.
Jesus, framed by your elders, Stay with us.
Jesus, insulted by the crowd, Stay with us.
Jesus, abused by those in power, Stay with us.
Jesus, falling under the weight of the cross, Stay with us.
Jesus, moved by the crying women, Stay with us.
Jesus, tortured with the cross, Stay with us.
Jesus, forgiving in your agony, Stay with us.
Jesus, our way and our light, Stay with us.
Holy Spirit, love divine, Guide and teach us.
Holy Spirit, heart of the Church, Guide and teach us.
Holy Spirit, living light, Guide and teach us.
Holy Spirit, Pentecostal fire, Guide and teach us.
Holy Spirit, speaker of tongues, Guide and teach us.
Holy Spirit, healing charity, Guide and teach us.
Lord, our God, help us to find in our suffering your healing suffering. Give us the strength and the courage to be your Church today and to bring your good news to all living creature






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