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Civil Rights Litany for Justice and Life

by Fr. Frank Pavone

Petition One

Dr. King declared, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Let us pray.

Lord, open our eyes, to see that our own destiny, as individuals and as a people, is directly tied to the destiny of our youngest brothers and sisters, the children in the womb. Help us and all our fellow citizens to understand that when the unborn are deprived of their rights as persons, this is an assault on the dignity of us all. Give us grace to understand that our own rights are only as safe as the rights of the smallest children.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Petition Two

Dr. King declared, “The next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth…is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life.”

Let us pray.

Lord God, Author of Peace, you created all human beings that they might live as one, and you entrusted the life of each to the care of all. We pray for peace in our times – a peace which is not simply the absence of bombs and tanks, but rather the full protection of everyone’s rights, and the harmonious relationships of human beings with each other and with you. Help us to see that the greatest destroyer of peace and love is abortion, and that peace on earth must begin with peace in the womb.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Petition Three  

Dr. King declared, “We have a task, and let us go out with a ‘divine dissatisfaction’…Let us be dissatisfied, until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Let us pray.

Lord, we are dissatisfied today. We are deeply troubled that we live in a land where an act of dismembering a baby masquerades as a legal right. We are dissatisfied, furthermore, that so many of our fellow citizens have made peace with this travesty of justice, and have accommodated themselves to this triumph of violence. We pray today that the institutions of government, which exist for the purpose of ensuring justice and protecting life, may no longer fail in that purpose, and may no longer be hijacked by the forces of evil. Rather, may your light shine in every Court, every legislature, and every executive mansion, and give your people a Divine impatience to place in those institutions public servants who know the difference between serving the public and killing the public. May your kingdom come, and may it come soon.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Petition Four

Dr. King declared, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

Let us pray.

Lord, all power resides in you, and the hearts of the powerful are in your hands. Infuse those hearts with a true grasp of the meaning of power, the demands of justice, and the attraction of love. Help them understand that power does not mean domination, but service. Help them to know that justice is not subject to the whims and shifting interpretations of mortals, but rather is based in you, the unchanging and eternal God. Help them to grasp the fact that love means to sacrifice oneself for the good of the other, while abortion means one sacrifices the other for the superficial good of oneself. Give us, Lord, a culture of life, where power serves justice and love transforms all.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Petition Five

Dr. King declared, “Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”

Let us pray.

Lord, give us the courage today to face the biggest obstacle in our mission to end abortion. Help us realize that this obstacle does not reside in media, government, or large pro-abortion organizations. Rather, our greatest obstacle resides within ourselves. Our greatest challenge is our own fear, our self-doubt, our hesitations, our second-guessing about the things we need to do and to sacrifice to advance the cause of justice. Free us, O Lord, from all that weighs us down. Let us be all that we ought to be, so that the unborn can be all that they ought to be as well.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Petition Six

Dr. King declared, “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late…Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world.”

Let us pray.

Lord, give us the grace to respond to the fierce urgency of now, for the time is always right for justice. Later is too late for the babies killed today. And the thousands of children scheduled for death tomorrow cannot wait around for us to build a consensus that they should be protected. Give us, furthermore, a sense of the urgency to bring healing to those who are in despair today, and to bring freedom to those whose sin of abortion weighs them down. Let us not wait, let us not delay. Give us boldness and courage to act now for justice and for life.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Petition Seven

Dr. King declared, “So we’ve come here today to cash a check…The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were a promissory note…that all…would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…America has defaulted on this promissory note…America has given…a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds…and so we’ve come to cash this check.”

Let us pray.

Lord, we live in a time when America has returned another check marked ‘insufficient funds.’ America has failed to protect the unborn. Yet we are here to cash that check. We too refuse to believe that the vaults of freedom and justice and opportunity and life are somehow insufficient to cover the children in the womb. We refuse to believe that, and therefore we ask you for the strength to do what it takes to demand their protection and their freedom.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Petition Eight

Dr. King declared, “I know that you are asking today, “How long will it take?’ I come to say to you this afternoon however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth pressed to earth will rise again.

How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.

How long? Not long, because you still reap what you sow.

How long? Not long. Because the arm of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

How long? Not long, ‘cause mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…Our God is marching on!”

Let us pray.

Father, we pray today for all those who have declared themselves to be Freedom Riders for the unborn. We pray for all our brothers and sisters in this great movement of justice. Lord, some of your people have fought this evil of abortion from even before the days of Roe v. Wade. And we hear them echo what is also in our hearts … “How long?” When will be the day of restoration, the triumph of equality? Renew our conviction today, O Lord, that it will not be long. For your Son Jesus Christ has promised that he is coming soon. The day of the Lord does not tarry. Strengthen our faith, enliven our hope, and deepen our love, that we may hasten the day when the unborn enjoy equal protection under the law.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Priests for Life
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