Noteto leader(s): Before utilizing this prayer service for racial healing, consider
providing an opportunity for participants to read, prayerfully reflect on, and
discuss the issue of racism, including its individual and societal
manifestations, by utilizing key resources, such as:
"Racism has rightly been
called America's original sin. It remains a blot on our national life and
continues to cause acts and attitudes of hatred, as recent events have made
evident. The need to condemn, and combat, the demonic ideologies of white
supremacy, neo-Nazism and racism has become especially urgent at this time. Our
efforts must be constantly led and accompanied by prayer—but they must also
include concrete action." People of faith call on the Divine Physician,
Christ the Lord, to heal the wounds of racism throughout our land.
Wake Me Up Lord
me up Lord, so that the evil of racism
no home within me.
watch over my heart Lord,
remove from me any barriers to your grace,
may oppress and offend my brothers and sisters.
my spirit Lord, so that I may give
of justice and peace.
my mind Lord, and use it for your glory.
finally, remind us Lord that you said,
are the peacemakers,
they shall be called children of God."
from Scripture: Luke 10:25-37
There was a
scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do
to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" He said in reply, "You
shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with
all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." He replied to him, "You
have answered correctly; do this and you will live."
But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is
my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went
off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that
road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when
he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine
over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and
gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you
spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.' Which of these three, in
your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?" He answered, "The one who
treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
As we heard in the Gospel reading, the question
is posed, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus is ready, answering with a parable. Jesus
often used parables to shed light, bring new insights, and provoke a
change in the hearts of listeners. We hear that someone is robbed, beaten and
injured. Two walked by, ignoring the injured man, but a third came to the man's
aid, caring for his wounds and securing him safe lodging. He was the good
neighbor. He was acting like Jesus, doing what God required.
in mind, consider the scenario we are witnessing today as racism persists in
our communities and in our churches. Too many walk by the victims of racism
without looking deeply at their wounds or the pain inflicted on them. Many of
these wounds have festered over centuries. Today's continuing disparities in
education, housing, employment, economic well-being, and leadership are not
disconnected from our country's shameful history of slavery and systemic
racism. Any act of racism injures the perpetrator and the victim, threatening
the dignity of both. The failure to act to end systemic racism, which is often
animated in our laws, policies, and structures, hurts those who are victimized
and denies all of us the opportunity to benefit from the gifts of diversity.
parable calls us to our obligations as Christians, to be a good neighbor: the one
who stops and helps the injured; the one who does not hesitate to accept the
responsibility of healing.
The signs of
this time are asking us to wake up, to stand up and to speak up when we
see racism. This is how we love our neighbor as ourselves. This is how we act like Jesus. This is how we
do justice and love goodness (Micah 6:8). This is how we make safe lodging for
all. This is how we begin the healing
from racism in our land, writing a new parable of racial justice for this time.
bishops teach: "Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the
human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family,
and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of
the same Father" (Brothers and Sisters to Us: U.S. Bishops'
Pastoral Letter on Racism in Our Day, 1979). In "The Challenge of Racism Today," Cardinal
Wuerl's pastoral letter to the Church in Washington, he writes: "To address racism, we need to
recognize two things: that it exists in a variety of forms, some more subtle
and others more obvious and that there is something we can do about it. We must
confront the issue with the conviction that in some personal ways we can help
to resolve it."
sin of racism is evil and needs to be wiped out. Too many times, miseducation
has blocked the path to racial healing.
Too many times, apathy has hindered the road to racial healing. People
of faith are called to attend to the wounds of racism with prayer and action—to
move out of pain to healing by transforming systems and structures that
perpetuate injustice. As Cardinal Wuerl said, we must recognize that we can do
something about racism.
Examination of Conscience: A Look at Myself in the Mirror
Conscience is the "core and sanctuary" within us where we are
alone with God and hear his call to "love good and avoid evil" and "do this,
shun that." Let us examine our conscience in light of the
sin of racism, asking ourselves:
- Have I fully loved God and
fully loved my neighbor as myself?
- Have I caused pain to others
by my actions or my words that offended my brother or my sister?
done enough to inform myself about
the sin of racism, its roots, and its historical and contemporary
manifestations? Have I opened my heart
to see how unequal access to
economic opportunity, jobs, housing, and education on the basis of skin color,
race, or ethnicity, has denied and continues to deny the equal dignity of others?
there a root of racism
within me that blurs my vision of
who my neighbor is?
ever witnessed an occasion when someone "fell victim" to personal, institutional, systematic or social racism
and I did or said nothing, leaving the victim to address their pain alone?
ever witnessed an occasion when someone "fell victim" to personal, institutional, systematic or social racism
with me inflicting the pain, acting opposite
of love of God and love of neighbor?
I ever lifted up and aided a person who "fell victim" to personal, institutional, systematic or social racism
and paid a price for extending mercy to the other? How did I react? Did my faith
grow? Am I willing to grow even more in
faith through my actions?
recognize that racism manifests in my own individual thoughts, attitudes,
actions, and inactions. It also manifests in social structures and unjust
systems the perpetuate centuries of racial injustice. For my individual actions and my participation
in unjust structures, I seek forgiveness and move towards reconciliation. I
look into my heart and ask for the will and the strength to help contribute to
the healing of racism in my time.
Act of Contrition
Let us pray the Act of Contrition:
God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins
because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; but most of all
because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my
love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid
the near occasion of sin. Amen. (Or: "to confess my sins, to do penance, and to
amend my life.)
I Seek Forgiveness and Reconciliation to Act Justly
It is written in Ezekiel 36:26: "I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will
put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a
heart of flesh."
Pope Francis reminds us that the Lord "calls each of us by our name: he knows
us by name; he looks at us; he waits for us; he forgives us; he is patient with
Receiving God's grace and
forgiveness requires a response. Pope Francis encourages the believer: "Whoever
experiences Divine mercy is impelled to be an architect of mercy among the
least and the poor." Now
let us do what God requires:
to do justice and to love goodness
to walk humbly with your God" (Micah
God of Heaven and Earth,
you created the one human family
and endowed each person with great
Aid us, we pray, in overcoming
the sin of racism.
Grant us your grace in
eliminating this blight
from our hearts, our communities,
our social and civil
Fill our hearts with love for you
and our neighbor
so that we may work with you
in healing our land from racial
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in
the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
We have prayed and now,
with changed hearts, let us move our feet to action.
to facilitator: Following the conclusion of this reconciliation service, share
with participants opportunities to work for racial justice in your faith
community, neighborhood, or the wider community. For ideas, visit usccb.org/racism including prayer resources, study
materials, and ideas for action. Also
Ways You Can Cultivate Peace and Work for Racial Justice.
Copyright © 2018, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights
reserved. This text may be reproduced in
whole or in part without alteration for nonprofit educational use, provided
such reprints are not sold and include this notice.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible,
revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian
Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner.
All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any
form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Executive Committee statement in support of the
establishment of a new Ad Hoc Committee on Racism in September of 2017.
This prayer is from For The Love of One Another (1989), a
special message from the Bishops' Committee on Black Catholics of the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the
Pastoral Letter, Brothers and Sisters to
Us, the U.S. Catholic bishops'
Pastoral Letter on Racism (1979).
 Second Vatican
Council, Gaudium et Spes, no. 16. Before
we can examine our consciences, we must ensure that our consciences are
properly formed. This involves being open to the truth and what is
right, studying Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Church, examining
the facts and background information about issues, and prayerfully reflecting to discern the will of
God (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Forming
Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, no. 18).
 For more
information, see the USCCB backgrounder, "Racism:
Confronting the Poison in Our Common Home."
 Pope Francis, General Audience, May 17, 2017.
 Pope Francis, Homily during
Celebration of Penance, March 28, 2014.