Prayers for Peace and Mercy in Washington, D.C.

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Washington, D.C. — “Death came suddenly and in an unexpected manner to those who work at the Navy Yard,” Washington, D.C.’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl reflected at the 12:10 Mass for Consolation and Healing at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. “We commend to the hands of our merciful and loving God who alone can judge human hearts, the souls of all who died yesterday.” In an act of “solidarity and prayerful support” he talked of hope, that “the families and loved ones, spouses and children, friends and relative of those who died” will be comforted.

“We pray for not only the healing of those who are recovering from this violent attack but also for a greater healing, a healing that touches what is wounded and broken in the world.” We need “to foster that healing that comes only when we recognize that there is a right and a wrong, that we are not free to kill,” he preached.

“At the heart of violence is the recognition that something is wrong, that sin still persists in our world,” Cardinal Wuerl said.

It is the Christian’s baptismal mandate to build a “civilization of love,” he said, citing the Sermon on the Mount and John Paul II. “We are capable of building that civilization of love, of extending and manifesting in our world God’s kingdom of peace, truth, justice, kindness, compassion, understanding,” the cardinal said.

“To love one another,” he preached, “is not an unreasonable challenge.”

How do we work to eradicate evil? By truly opening our hearts to others, to “truly believe that the power of God’s love in each of us is capable of changing the world,” he said.

Prayers for peace are not just a matter for Syria, but the every day. And in D.C. and beyond, prayers for both peace and the consolation and healing of those who suffer — including the mentally ill — must continue. We’re called to more than “a conversation” (the most frequently used TV talker word), but conversion. That was the pope’s point in his four-hour prayer service in Rome two weeks ago. That was Cardinal Wuerl’s prayer “in the long and ancient tradition of the Church” today. 

UPDATE: Here is audio of Cardinal Wuerl’s homily. 

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