A Holy Hour for Healing

For a Holier Episcopate, A Holier Priesthood, A Holier Church

"We must be confident that this time of trial will bring a purification of the entire Catholic community, a purification that is urgently needed if the Church is to preach more effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its liberating force. Now you must ensure that where sin increased, grace will all the more abound (cf. Rom 5:20). So much pain, so much sorrow must lead to a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate, and a holier Church."
—Pope John Paul II April 23, 2002


Letter from the Committee on the Liturgy

Solemnity of Saint Peter and Paul, 2002

Dear Bishop:

In the final hours of our meeting in Dallas we discussed the indispensable role of prayer and penance in the light of the pastoral challenges of clerical sexual abuse and our response to it.

In last week's mailing you received the helpful reflections of Archbishop Patrick F. Flores, Archbishop of San Antonio. Archbishop Flores suggested that we center on prayer and penance on the part of the Bishop including Holy Hours, the Divine Office, recitation of the Rosary, reading of the Sacred Scriptures and prayer in common with our priests and people. Finally, he suggested the possibility of fast and abstinence "if possible, on a daily basis."

The Secretariat for the Liturgy has developed this book of resources for A Holy Hour for Healing in order to assist you in planning days or occasions of prayer and penance in the light of clerical sexual abuse and our response to it (also available at on the Conference website at www.usccb.org/liturgy). Since the Bishops indicated a variety of preferences for dates for such celebrations, we have prepared this Holy Hour in such a way that it may be used by Bishops individually or with a gathering of the priests or faithful. As always, you may adapt this resource to meet your needs in any way you find helpful.

May God continue to help us to be agents of his healing presence in the world and through prayer and penance make us holier Bishops, holier Priests, and a holier Church.
Faithfully in Christ,
Most Reverend Oscar H. Lipscomb
Archbishop of Mobile

A Holy Hour for Healing

If the Blessed Sacrament is to be exposed, the rites contained in Chapter II ( Forms of Worship of the Holy Eucharist) of Holy Communion and Worship of the Holy Eucharist outside Mass should be followed.

A Prayer for Healing 

God of endless love,
ever caring, ever strong:
your only Son
was delivered into the hands of the wicked,
yet healed us with the blood of his cross.

May the gentle Jesus
join to his own suffering,
the pains of those abused
by priests who have betrayed your love,
and servants of your Church,
whose sin has brought us shame.

May Christ hear the cries of those abused,
may he quell their restless fears with faith in your protection,
their doubt, with confidence in your love,
and all rage with trust in your healing mercy.

Grant all Shepherds of his Church
the compassion to protect his lambs,
the strength to guide his flock,
and the wisdom to model their lives
on Christ, the Good Shepherd.

God of justice and compassion,
protect all children from abuse,
and deliver us from hate.
May we seek only justice and truth,
and trust in your unending mercy.

We ask this through the same Christ, our Lord.

A Litany for Healing

Lord, have mercy Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy Lord, have mercy
Protect all children, Lord With your enduring love
Grant us the grace, Lord To protect and nourish the innocent
Preserve our nation, Lord To be chaste and pure in love
For children wounded and tearful Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For children confused or alone Save, heal and protect them!
For children afraid or abandoned Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For children beaten Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For children who sleep in fear Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For children afraid to go home Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For children afraid of their abusers Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For children assaulted Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For children whose innocence has been stolen Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For those who cannot trust, Lord Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For those who cannot love, Lord Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For those whose hearts are filled with fear Save, heal and protect them, O Lord!
For the Church, called to be the light of the world Banish all darkness from her children, O Lord!
For Bishops, called to be Good Shepherds Make them vigilant defenders of the weak, O Lord!
For Priests, conformed to the person of Christ Grant them purity and Christ-like love, O Lord!
For all ministers of the Church, called to live the Gospel Grant them a love of Christian virtues, O Lord!
For priests who abuse children Grant them repentance, O Lord!
For parents or relatives who abuse their children Grant them repentance, O Lord!
For teachers and coaches who abuse children Grant them repentance, O Lord!
For all who abuse children Grant them repentance, O Lord!
To doctors and therapists, Lord Grant compassion and skill
To houses of healing and renewal, Lord Grant wisdom and dedication
To men and women of the media, Lord Grant a love for the truth alone
To lawyers and judges, Lord Grant wisdom and conviction
To those imprisoned for abuse, Lord Grant repentance and healing
Holy Mary, Mother of God Pray for us!
Saint Peter and Saint Paul Pray for us!
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Pray for us!
Saint Maria Goretti Pray for us!
Lord, have mercy Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy Lord, have mercy

Readings from Sacred Scripture

1 Kings 19:4-8: Strengthened by that food, he walked to the mountain of God.

Elijah went a day's journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying:
"This is enough, O LORD!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers."
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water.
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered, "Get up and eat,
else the journey will be too long for you!"
He got up, ate, and drank;
then, strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

Amos 5:4, 14-15, 21-24Seek good that you may live.

Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts,
be with you as you claim!
Hate evil and love good,
and let justice prevail at the gate;
then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.

I hate, I spurn your feasts, says the LORD,
I take no pleasure in your solemnities;
your cereal offerings I will not accept,
nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings.
Away with your noisy songs!
I will not listen to the melodies of your harps.
But if you would offer me holocausts,
then let justice surge like water,
and goodness like an unfailing stream.

Isaiah 52:13-53:1He was pierced for our offenses

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him—
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man—
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by men,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom men hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.
Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.
Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

Romans 8:28-32: To be conformed to the image of his Son.

Brothers and sisters:
We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers and sisters.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say to this?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 19:31-35: One soldier thrust his lance into his side and immediately blood and water flowed out.

Since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain
on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.

John 21:1-14Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them.

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee's sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing."
They said to him, "We also will come with you."
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?"
They answered him, "No."
So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something."
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord."
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught."
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast."
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?"
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

Luke 7:36-50Her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love.

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
"If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Simon, I have something to say to you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred days' wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?"
Simon said in reply,
"The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven."
He said to him, "You have judged rightly."
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
"Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
The others at table said to themselves,
"Who is this who even forgives sins?"
But he said to the woman,
"Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

 Homily for the Ordination of a Priest

Then the Bishop, while all are seated, gives the homily. Taking his theme from the biblical readings just proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word, he addresses the people and the elect on the priestly office. He may do so in these or similar words:

Dearly beloved brothers and sisters: because these our sons whom you know as relatives and friends are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the ministry in the Church to which they are to about be raised.

It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. But our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his disciples to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly office in his name, on behalf of the human race. For Christ was sent by the Father, and he himself sent the Apostles into the world so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established as co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.

After mature deliberation, these, our brothers, are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple.
In being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God's people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord's sacrifice.
You, dearly beloved sons, are now to be raised to the Order of the priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach.

Therefore, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful aroma to Christ's faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God's Church.

Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the mysteries. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord's death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful, and to walk in newness of life.

Remember, when you gather men and women into the people of God through Baptism, and when you forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance; when you comfort the sick with holy oil and celebrate the sacred rites, offering prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the whole world -- remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on behalf of men for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ.

Finally, dearly beloved sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.  

 Promises from the Rite of Ordination of a Bishop

The ancient rule of the holy Fathers ordains that a Bishop-elect is to be questioned in the presence of the people on his resolve to uphold the faith and to discharge his duty. 

Therefore, dear brother, do you resolve by the grace of the Holy Spirit to discharge until death the office entrusted to us by the Apostles, which we are about to pass on to you by the laying on of our hands? 

I do.

Do you resolve to preach the Gospel of Christ with constancy and fidelity?

I do.

Do you resolve to guard the deposit of faith, entire and incorrupt, as handed down by the Apostles and preserved by the Church everywhere and at all times?

I do.

Do you resolve to build up the body of Christ, his Church, and to remain in the unity of that body together with the Order of Bishops under the authority of the successor of Saint Peter the Apostle?

I do.

Do you resolve to render obedience faithfully to the successor of the blessed Apostle Peter?

I do.

Do you resolve to guide the holy people of God in the way of salvation as a devoted father and to sustain them with the help of your fellow ministers, the priests and deacons?

I do.

Do you resolve, for the sake of the Lord's name, to be welcoming and merciful to the poor, to strangers, and to all who are in need?

I do.

Do you resolve as a good shepherd to seek out the sheep who stray and gather them into the Lord's fold?

I do.

Do you resolve to pray without ceasing to almighty God for the holy people and to carry out the office of high priest without reproach?

I do.

May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.


Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America copyright © 1970, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. All rights reserved. No part of the Lectionary for Mass may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright ©1998, 1997, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved.

Excerpts from the
Rite of Ordination of a Bishop, Priests and Deacons, Copyright © 2000, International Commission on English in the Liturgy. All Rights Reserved.

Cover image courtesy Ade Bethune Collection, College of Saint Catherine Library, Saint Paul, MN 55105.

Copyright © 2002, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or, by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.