May 29, 2007

The Coventry Litany of Reconcilliation

In my on-going and ever growing pursuit of and appreciation for classic expressions of the best of our Christian heritage I sometimes discover gems of marvelous beauty and worth. This is one of those gems. The primary story follows...

"Following the bombing of the Mediaeval Cathedral of Coventry in 1940, Provost Dick Howard had the words 'Father Forgive' inscribed on the wall behind the Altar of the ruined building. These words are used as the response in the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation, which is prayed in the ruins every Friday at noon, and is used throughout the world by the Community of the Cross of Nails.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father Forgive.

The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
Father Forgive.

The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Father Forgive.

Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Father Forgive.

Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
Father Forgive.

The lust which dishonors the bodies of men, women and children,
Father Forgive.

The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Father Forgive.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

© Coventry Cathedral, 2004. All rights reserved.

The back story (not verified by research) goes something like this...

Following the bombing of Coventry by the Germans, the British bombed Dresden in retaliation, and, in the process, destroyed that city's prized cathedral. Following the war, a delegation from Coventry traveled to Dresden to help rebuild the cathedral there. The people of Dresden responded in kind and from this terrible ordeal came the Litany that will be repeated this, and every, Friday in the ruins of the cathedral that still stand in Coventry.

Oh, to forgive as we have been forgiven.

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