Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday Service for Peace Outside the White House, Feb. 10, 2016, Article by Janice Sevre Duszynska, ARCWP

Art Laffin of Dorothy Day Catholic Worker makes a cross of ashes on
the road after leading us in song.


This brisk February morning I took the Marc train from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. to begin Lent with peace activist friends gathering for an Ash Wednesday Liturgy of Repentance in front of the White House. As I put on my Latina purple stole, Meade led us with her guitar and in song with the “Prayer of Peace. “ Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Art Laffin who prepared the service then welcomed us with a reflection focusing on our country’s need for transformation in Joel 2, 12-18, “Even now,” declares our God,
 “return to me with all your heart,
 with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Mike Walli of Transform Now Plowshares 3 who entered the belly of the beast at the Nuclear Weapons Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee read from Oscar Romero, bishop of the poor and suffering.

I was among prophets. One by one these activists (most have done time) gave their own deeply rooted spiritual reflections. Each was a Prayer in Repentance: for U.S. War-making in Iraq, in Afghanistan led by Judith Kelly, for U.S. Drone Warfare led by Jack McHale, Nuclear Weapons led by Sr. Ardeth Platte, Our Desecrated Earth led by Katerina Sasieta, Racial Violence, Justice for Immigrants led by Scott Wright, For Prisoners led by Kathy Boylan, including grandmother Mary Anne-Grady Flores (Hancock Drone Base-NY), Jess Reznicek of the Hammer for Justice Plowshares (Northrup-Grumman-Nebraska), and Leonard Peltier and Whistleblowers Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, To End the Death Penalty, To End Torture, followed by a Litany of Repentance and Conversion. After each we sang twice “God forgive the wrong we’ve done, God forgive us now.”

Before the blessing and mutual distribution of ashes we sang Tom Conry’s song of the same name: “We rise again from ashes from the good we’ve failed to do. We rise again from ashes to create ourselves anew. If all our world is ashes, then must our lives be true, an offering of ashes an offering to You…”

We took turns during the ritual of marking the street with the ashes. I saw that people were making crosses, but I had a yen to shape a circle.

Images rose up inside me, memories of doing resistance with these holy ones across the country and the years, including Liz McAlister, widow of Phil Berrigan, who read the closing prayer from Bill Wylie-Kellerman’s Seasons of Faith and Conscience. As we ended singing the “World Peace Prayer,” I was looking at the White House.

Closing Prayer- From Bill Wylie-Kellermann, Seasons of Faith and
Conscience -  (Liz McAlister)

"To keep Lent is to follow Jesus in the prayer of wilderness and garden.
"To keep Lent is to confront the principalities and powers first of
all in prayer. With Jesus we face the dark side of ourselves; this is
so susceptible to capture and control by the powers. If it happens
that we keep vigil publicly at the gates of economic, military,
political or religious authority, we do so confessionally,
acknowledging the solidarity of sin.
"To keep Lent is to discover and remember who in heaven's name we are,
as person and community. We pray against all confusers and confusions
for our true identity and vocation. We know that means standing before
the cross and making some choices.
"The grace of this season is that Jesus suffers the choice with us.
He's been over the turf and is our brother exactly on that score, with
us in the struggle of our hearts. Let the further grace be that we
make our choice as disciples, in the mind and heart of Christ."


Peace activists hold up signs as they participate in liturgy.

Janice Sevre -Duszynska, ARCWP participates in Ash Wednesday Service, witness for  peace outside White House

1 comment:

Rea Howarth said...

It's good to see friends witness for peace.