LITURGY MATTERS: Choosing Repentance – Seeking Healing

‘Choosing Repentance – Seeking Healing’ is the title of the second decree from the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia. What does this title mean to you? What is your experience of ‘choosing repentance’ and of ‘seeking healing’?

As we approach our annual marking of the ‘Perpetual Day of Remembrance’ and ‘Perpetual Day of Remembrance Sunday’ I have been pondering this decree. I invite you to read it yourself. It is available here.

You will notice that paragraph 6 of the decree affirms the practice of an annual day of prayer. Across Australia this is currently known as ‘Safeguarding Sunday’ and is celebrated at the end of Child Protection Week on Sunday 10 September.  In our diocese this annual day of prayer takes the form of our ‘Perpetual Day of Remembrance’ on 15 September and ‘Perpetual Day of Remembrance Sunday’ celebrated on the preceding Sunday; this year on Sunday 10 September. It is good to know that every year we are praying, not as an isolated diocese, but in union with all dioceses across Australia.

The usual suite of resources has been updated and is available on the Diocesan website. I  invite you to read Bishop Michael Kennedy’s letter to all of us. This year we have simplified the parish resource and formatted a separate resource for schools. A PowerPoint slideshow has been added for communities wishing to pray the Stations of the Cross, and instructions for downloading the two music resources are also provided.

This year we are grateful to Zimmerman Service Healing and Support and Elizabeth Seysener, a survivor with the Clergy Abused Network (CAN), who worked with composer David Banney to commission a piece of music titled ‘The Innocents’. It is a beautiful and deeply moving piece that we hope will enrich your reflection over the days of our perpetual remembering. It is available on the diocesan website via the link in the above paragraph.

There is a lot for us to reflect on individually and together. How is our annual day of prayer for healing and conversion changing us? How is it helping us to follow the example of Christ in our engagement with children and all those who are vulnerable? How does the Plenary Council decree ‘Choosing Repentance – Seeking Healing’ inform our commitment to and marking of our Perpetual Day of Remembrance? What does it mean to be a church committed to keeping everyone safe? In faith we must take up this cross and join ourselves to Christ’s dying – rising mystery. What in us needs to die? What needs to change? What new life is emerging?    

It is one thing to tick the safeguarding boxes, of which there are many, and a totally other thing to be open to this deeper conversion, so that ‘safeguarding’ becomes instinctual in all we say and do. Conversion is about ‘choosing repentance and seeking healing’. That has implications personally and communally.

By now, hopefully, many of you are familiar with the following prayer written for our ‘Perpetual Day of Remembrance’. You may not be aware that the process of writing it involved long periods of listening to and reflecting on our own and others’ experiences of human attitudes and behaviours that leave people feeling unsafe and vulnerable. The prayer names attitudes and behaviours that people continue to experience across our  communities and households. Some of us still feel disempowerment. Privilege, dishonesty, hidden agendas, fear and silence still lurk in some of our places.

May our annual ‘Perpetual Day of Remembrance’ help to shape us as the people of God who remember, who both ask for and extend forgiveness, who seek healing and who are open to the ongoing process of lifelong conversion. Let us pray perpetually, that God will create in us a clean heart.  

In the Light of Your Love

God with us,
you have made us in your image,
and filled us with the breath of your divine life.
Through the life of Jesus
you show us the way to live in the light of your love.

Create a clean heart in us O God.

Where people are disempowered
      may we shine the light of your justice.
Where there is privilege and prestige
      may we shine the light of your humility.
Where there is dishonesty and denial
      may we shine the light of your truth.
Where transparency is lacking, and agendas are hidden,
      may we shine the light of your integrity.
Where there is fear
      may we shine the light of your courage.
Where there is judgement
      may we shine the light of your compassion.
Where there is disrespect
      may we shine the light of your love.
Where people feel silenced
      may we shine the light of your word.
Where people feel excluded
      may we shine the light of your acceptance.
Where there is sin
      may we shine the light of your forgiveness. 

Create a clean heart in us O God.

© 2019 Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.  All rights reserved.

Diocesan Liturgy Council Update

To keep abreast of the work of the Diocesan Liturgy Council you can review the Report published on the website after each meeting. The August report is available here


Image: DoMN perpetual Day of Remembrance cover. Photo: Andrew Doohan. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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Louise Gannon rsj Image
Louise Gannon rsj

Louise Gannon rsj is the Diocesan Manager of Worship and Prayer.