03 February 2012

Coventry Cathedral and the Litany of Reconciliation

The Cross of Nails in Coventry Cathedral (Photograph; Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

Our prayers in the chapel of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute this morning [3 February 2012] drew on the Litany of Reconciliation from Coventry Cathedral.

Coventry Cathedral is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year – a landmark occasion recognising 50 years of service to Coventry’s community and the world, both through its unique international mission of peace and reconciliation, and as a cultural centre for the performing arts.

For 50 years, the cathedral has been a dynamic centre of worship and mission, a place of pilgrimage, liturgical creativity, and healing; a focus for reconciliation locally, nationally and internationally; for education and the arts; a venue for national services and television and radio broadcasts; and a focal point for the City, the region, and even for the world.

Following the bombing of Coventry’s mediaeval cathedral in 1940, the Provost, the Very Revd Richard 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 new cathedral every weekday at noon, and in the ruins of the mediaeval cathedral on Fridays.

This litany is also used throughout the world by the Community of the Cross of Nails.

The Litany of Reconciliation:

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 dishonours 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.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

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