Prayer for These Times

Father in heaven, hear our prayer. Though we are different from each other in race, religion and culture, we are one in your family. You have made us all your children, brothers and sisters of one another.

Christ your Son has taught us by word and example what He means when He says "love your neighbor." He means "love everyone," not just those who are of our own race and nationality.

Father of us all, we thank you for making us live in "Freedom Summer, 1963." These are challenging times, and we can no longer afford to be mediocre.

We thank you for the restlessness and impatience of those who want racial equality now. We thank you for the inspired leadership of the courageous men who are guiding the freedom movement.

Merciful God, forgive our past reluctance to involve ourselves in the fight for interracial justice. We have failed to practice the American virtue of directness. We have perhaps done more harm by our mediocrity than have the racists by their extremism.

We have seen our fellow citizens mistreated, and we have reacted with indifference, leaving them to work out their own problems. If their frustration erupts into violence, we can only blame ourselves. Pardon our failures, Lord, and strengthen our resolution to help secure freedom for all men.

Generous God and Father, give us a full outpouring of your Holy Spirit. Help us disregard the things that divide us, and make us one as members of your family.

Give us good leaders, who will teach us to be militant but not violent. Guard us from the temptation to be satisfied with tokenism or gradualism. Guide us into realistic discussion and effective action.

Make us see both the value of negotiation and the necessity for direction action against discrimination when negotiation has failed. Console us when we fail in breaking down racial barriers, or are criticized, or grow tired.

Continually disturb our consciences until we achieve a peace that is based on truth, justice, love and freedom for all.

Finally, Lord, be our reward in your everlasting kingdom, where people of every race and culture live in perfect unity. We ask these favors through Christ, your Son and our Brother. Amen.


The author of this prayer is a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

America / August 17, 1963