Prayer of Thanks and Peace

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, we pause to give thanks for the many blessings that have been bestowed on us, both as individuals and as members of the St. Rita community. 

Recently, our worlds have been rocked by repeated acts of senseless violence, whether in terror attacks in Paris, Mali or Egypt, or in countless street shootings right here on the South Side, including an incident from over a year ago that is being reported in the local media this morning. So today we also offer a special prayer for peace to St. Rita the Peacemaker, a role she personified throughout her life, but especially after her own husband fell victim to violence, and she deterred her two young sons from thoughts of revenge.

At St. Rita, we are a family, a family of very rich diversity that traverses racial, geographic, economic and religious lines. One of the key things that binds us together as a family is respect: respect for ourselves, respect for our parents and loved ones, respect for our teachers, staff, and fellow Ritamen and respect for fundamental Christian values, especially the sanctity of life.

As Ritamen and Augustinians, we strongly believe that actions against others which unjustly violate the sanctity of human life are wrong, and that those who perpetuate them should answer to our court system, and ultimately, to God. This is true whether the unjustified violence is perpetuated by terrorists, gang members, persons of authority, or anyone else.

As Ritamen and Augustinians, we also believe that all are entitled to due process and should not be prejudged. But those found guilty after due process must be held accountable if the rule of law is to be respected and preserved.

We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff, and school.

Let us pray today for our city. As citizens of Chicago, and as followers of St. Rita, the Peacemaker, we start with prayer for ourselves. We pray to understand that all actions directed against others that violate the sanctity of life are wrong, regardless of who does it. We pray that we will always preserve the sacred nature of life. We pray to understand the points of view that are different than our own, and for wisdom in our justice system to offer protection under the law and safe harbor for victims of violence. We believe that those who perpetuate violence must answer to God.

St Rita, pray for us.

Let us pray for innocent neighbors who have to live amid the threat of gang violence in their neighborhoods. We ask St. Rita, the peacemaker, to keep them safe. We implore the Holy Spirit to guide their footsteps out of harm’s way in their daily activities. Keep their children safe from harm and from the false allure of negative influences.

St. Rita, pray for us.

Let us pray for those who serve valiantly in neighborhoods besieged by violence—religious leaders, teachers, political leaders, crossing guards, social workers, health care workers, park district employees, Streets and Sanitation workers, shopkeepers and service people.  May they be free to go about their daily business, improving the lives of the people in their communities and free of the threat of violence.

St. Rita, pray for us.

Let us pray for the first responders to our neighborhoods—firefighters, EMT’s, ambulance personnel, police officers and Safe Passage personnel. Keep them safe to be able to do their life-saving work. Offer them the peace of mind of knowing that they are doing good work in very difficult circumstances. Offer them the consolation of support from citizens they serve well. Help them to see the face of Christ where others don’t. Help them to always remember that human life is to be preserved whenever possible.

St. Rita, pray for us.

Lastly, let us pray for those who perpetrate violence for any reason. Open their eyes to see that violence is not an answer to their troubles or a solution for their economic condition. Help them to remove the dark clouds of hatred and cynicism to see that the lives of others matter. Open their hearts to understand that those they encounter are the sons, grandsons, daughters, granddaughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers of people who love them. Turn their hearts to love and their weapons to instruments of peace.

St. Rita, pray for us.