LITURGY MATTERS: Perpetual Day of Remembrance Sept 15 ‘Shine the light of Christ’

Remembering is intrinsic to our life as human beings. Our hearts are warmed and our lives are shaped by fond memories. As individuals and communities we also remember the tough stuff, the horrendous stuff. These memories act as a profound corrective and call us to be better and to live differently. Without such memories we are at risk of repeating past injustices.

Let’s start with something to watch and listen to.

The Perpetual Day of Remembrance is about remembering the diocese’s history of child sexual abuse, its cover up and the way this continues to impact the lives of those directly and indirectly affected. It is a confronting and challenging memory for each one of us.

This day is a ‘damned if we do’ and ‘damned if we don’t’ day. Many survivors and their families and friends have an understandable passion to ensure that we perpetually remember this story of abuse. Others, including some survivors and their families and friends, never want to hear about it again as the memories are too painful. Within this tension, recognising the critical importance of these memories urges us on. 

Our society attests to the importance of engaging with and properly acknowledging such memories. We remember and mark Anzac Day, various days associated with the First and Second World Wars, the Holocaust, and days associated with the history of white Australia’s engagement with indigenous people. All such memories seek to expand our hearts, invite us into empathy and call us to change. We need them if we are to change and grow.

Even more than this, ‘remembering’ is at the heart of Catholic liturgy and life.  In every liturgy we gather to ‘remember’ the Paschal Mystery of God’s love poured out for us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the gift of the Spirit who is with us always. People of faith might say this is the prototype of all harrowing memories. This is a special type of remembering. We don’t just remember Jesus as a long past hero. In liturgy he is present and we join ourselves to his ‘dying-rising mystery’ so we will be changed to become more Christ-like in our living.

How are we to do this in response to the Perpetual Day of Remembrance? You are invited to stand with survivors and their families and friends whose suffering continues. You are invited to join in the Church’s prayer which begins on September 13 with ‘Perpetual Remembrance Sunday’ and continues through to September 15. There are a variety of resources, ranging from leaving a light on in your home and praying the accompanying prayer, to participating in Mass on Sunday 13 (including the Saturday night Vigil). We hope the diversity of resources accommodates our different needs, particularly in these COVID-19 times.

There is a picture tile on the home page of the diocesan website. Click on it to go to the resource page where you will find plenty of information including the history of the day and a letter from Bishop Bill. The following prayer and liturgical resources are also found there. For …

It will take every one of us to shine the light of Christ into this dark space: a light of solidarity, a light of prayer, a light of commitment to change, a light of hope. 

I need to change. We all need to change to become more like Christ. And so, I invite you to pray … 

Create a clean heart in us O God.

Where people are disempowered
    may we shine the light of your saving wisdom.
Where there is privilege and prestige
    may we shine the light of your humility.
Where there is dishonesty and denial
    may we shine the light of your truth.
Where transparency doesn’t exist and agendas are hidden
    may we shine the light of your integrity.
Where there is fear
    may we shine the light of your courage.
Where there is judgement
    may we shine the light of your compassion.
Where there is disrespect
    may we shine the light of your love.
Where people feel silenced
    may we shine the light of your word.
Where people feel excluded
    may we shine the light of your acceptance.
Where there is sin
    may we shine the light of your forgiveness. 

Create a clean heart in us O God.

Liturgy matters. The Perpetual Day of Remembrance matters. Please consider accepting the invitation to stand with survivors and their families and friends and shine the light of Christ.

Prayer: © Diocesan of Maitland-Newcastle. All rights reserved.
Image: Margaret O’Sullivan rsj. All rights reserved.

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Louise Gannon rsj Image
Louise Gannon rsj

Louise Gannon rsj is the Diocesan Manager of Worship and Prayer.