All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
FOR: The hatred which divides nation from nation, race, from race, class from class.
The covetous desires of peoples and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which allows us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.
By Rev. Stephanie Donaldson
On the night of November 14, 1940 Coventry City centre was obliterated, over five hundred lives were lost and the ancient cathedral was destroyed in a German raid.
Shortly thereafter Provost Richard Howard had the words FATHER FORGIVE inscribed on the red sandstone wall behind the stone altar of the ruined building. A cross of nails, fashioned from three medieval nails found in the ruins was made, and a cross formed by two ancient, charred beams also recovered from the ruins was placed on the altar.
Provost Howard made a commitment not to seek revenge but to stive for forgiveness and reconciliation. Today Coventry Cathedral is the world’s oldest religious-based centre for reconciliation.
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation was written by Canon Joseph Poole, first Precentor of the new cathedral, in 1958. It is based on the seven cardinal sins.
Today The Litany is prayed daily at Coventry Cathedral and weekly at cathedrals and churches around the world.
In the autumn of 2020, with my regular ministries suspended due to COVID, I began to pray The Litany from the west steps at St. James, Stratford. In late December, 2020, bowing to pandemic protocol, I brought The Litany to my home on the Huron shore where I offer it every Friday as a ministry of St. James. It is recorded and uploaded to St. James website and Facebook page.
This year The Reverend Lorraine Brooks, St. Paul’s, Stratford and I began rotating the Litany, offering it one week at St. James and the next at St. Paul’s. It would be wonderful to see it prayed in every church in the diocese on Fridays at noon. A more ‘modern’ language has been developed for The Litany. Reverend Lorraine and I have been using it, but that’s a story for another day.
Why do I pray the Litany? In our war weary and pandemic world the words are as meaningful and prophetic as they were when Canon Poole wrote them. We are living in a fractured world much in need of forgiveness and reconciliation. C. S. Lewis wrote, “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive”. The act of forgiving frees the one who is able to forgive. Who might you forgive?
Rev. Stephanie Donaldson is an AFP Executive.