On November 14th, 1940, the Luftwaffe blitzed the City of Coventry with bombs. So fierce was the bombing that a new word was coined by the Nazi’s for wholesale destruction – to Coventrate.
A victim of the bombing was the medieval Cathedral. It also had a word : Forgive.
Today, if you visit Coventry, the new Cathedral, designed by Basil Spence and opened in 1962, hugs the old. A remarkable fusion of death and re-birth, though truthfully, the symbol for both is of reconciliation and Resurrection.
Another symbol is the Cross of Nails.
On the morning after the destruction, a local vicar, whose own church had suffered much damage, picked up from the Cathedral ruins three sharp nails, which had been part of the roof, and with a bit of wire, bound them into a cross.
He was not to know then that his Cross would become the potent sign of what was to be a worldwide community of the Cross of Nails, dedicated to prayer and action, especially in dark and broken places.
Those three nails, now gilded and placed in the Sanctuary of the new part of the Cathedral, (see photo above) were to inspire a remarkable ministry.
It was, and is, a portent for good in a dark world so much in need of light and hope.
This ministry is summed up in the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation and in this weekend of special remembrance both of the atrocities of what happened 20 years ago, known forever as 9/11, and all that has transpired subsequently both bad and good, it is an appropriate Litany to pray, either alone or with others.
COVENTRY 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
The covetous desires of people 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 leads us to trust in ourselves
and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ has forgiven you
You may also like to ponder these prayers offered in remembrance of 9/11 and those whose lives were lost and the many whose lives were forever changed.
The prayers are from an array of faith leaders from many religious traditions. They were found in the internet from Huffington Post, Prayers for Peace & Healing on 9/11 Anniversary.
In times of pain, give me comfort, in times of despair, give me hope. In times of hatred, give me love. In times of doubt, give me trust. And even when I feel far from you, be close to me, Loving God.
Fr. James Martin, S.J.
We pray to live with memory, with constant love, with the promise both to combat evil and to cherish goodness. Do not let our pain cloud our hopes or crush our hearts. Help us grow through this tragedy, keep faith with its victims, and sustain our trust in you.
Rabbi David Woipe
While our landmarks collapsed in a cloud of smoke and debris, beneath a surge of shock and rage, something awakened in our hearts: compassion.
Universal Creator, grant us resilience in the face of hate, and the courage to face it with dignity. May we all unite and share one another’s pain and tears. May the hatred in the world melt away in Your boundless and everlasting love. And living in Your Will, may all find peace, harmony and serenity.
Dr. Satpal Singh
Dear God: We seek your grace to strengthen us as we commemorate the lives of loved ones who have been lost on this day of anguish for our country and our world. Lord, teach your children to love each other as much as they profess to love you.
Bishop T. D. Jakes
There was a prayer from an Imam but this picture, of a young Muslim holding up cardboard signs, is to my mind, one of the most powerful expressions of hopeful prayer.
Pray for him and all that he stands for.