This windy Baltimore afternoon, holding a tambourine and an anti-nuke poster Pope Francis calls “The fruit of war,” I joined Catholic Worker women friends, Paul Magno of Jonah House, and other local women for a 2 pm prayer service outside the Marriott Hotel by the water as the US bishops prayed inside.
It was good to meet up with these women friends who pilgrimaged to Rome in February during the Bishops Summit to bear witness to the suffering church and address reforms.I was looking forward to praying with them again.
Our invocation took the form of a litany of saints: among them Mary of Magdala, Hildegard of Bingen, Mary Mackilop of Australia, Brigid of Ireland, Sr. Thea Bowman, Dorothy Day and pacifist Ben Salmon.
After the Opening Song, “Spirit of the Living God,” we began with an Opening Prayer adapted from a prayer written by Sr. Joan Chittister:Come Spirit renew the hearts of all who are gathered here for prayer and praise. The Holy Spirit embodies the life force of the universe, the power of God, the animating energy present in all things and captured by none. In celebration of the great feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit of God, we pray:May the Gifts of the Holy Spiritbring fire to the earthso that the presence of Godmay be seenin a new light,in new places,in new ways.May our own heartsburst into flameso that no obstacle,no matter how great,ever obstructs the messageof the God within each of us.I had brought along a treasured booklet of reflections by Sr. Elizabeth Johnson: “Women, Earth, Creator Spirit,”
that accompanied my witnessing to the bishops years earlier. I showed this “dancing” Hildegard of Bingen description of Spirit to Claire Schaefer-Duffy who suggested it as a third reading after Acts 1:12-14, 2:1-18 and an Excerpt from Sr. Veronica Openibo.“I, the highest and fiery power have kindled every living spark and I have breathed out nothing that can die...I flame above the beauty of the fields; I shine in the waters; in the sun, the moon, and the stars, I burn.
Andby means of the airy wind, I stir everything into quickness with a certain invisible life which sustains all... I, the fiery power, lie hidden in these things and they blaze from me.” (From Hildegard of Bingen: Mystical Writings, Fiona Bowie & Oliver Davies, eds. (NY: Crossroad, 1990) 91-93.Here is a sampling of the Intercessory Prayers:
We pray for Pope Francis and for all of the bishops gathered for this Spring meeting that they will open their hearts to the cry of the people of God. We pray that they will listen, and be given the courage and strength to be renewed and heed the call of the Holy Spirit.
Response: Spirit of God, breathe in us.
We pray for all survivors of sex abuse that they may be given comfort, experience the deep healing love of God, and find mercy and justice for what they have suffered and endured.Response: Spirit of God, breathe in us.