In the wake of a new round of violence across the United States, including the killing of five police officers in Dallas as retribution for police shootings of black men in both Minnesota and Louisiana, the Knights of Columbus have called for a novena of prayer to run July 14-22.
The Knights describe the nine days of prayer, based on St. Francis of Assisi’s famed Prayer for Peace, as an attempt to “heal the wounds and divisions afflicting this country.”
The Knights of Columbus are the world’s largest Catholic fraternal group, with more than two million members worldwide. They are also the principal partner of Crux.
“The violent episodes of the past week have shocked the conscience of our country,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in announcing the initiative on Saturday.
“Through this prayer, each of us has the opportunity to help transcend hatred and violence by personally committing to the concepts of love of neighbor, peace and forgiveness that are central to an authentic embrace of Christianity,” Anderson said.
It is our hope that, from coast to coast, those who pray this prayer will become true instruments of peace,” he said.
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who serves as the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and who also heads the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, urged Catholics to join the prayer campaign.
“During this Year of Mercy, let us pray for an end to violence and senseless killings,” Lori said. “Through our prayers and good works, may we help build a society that is merciful, just, and peaceful.”
The text of St. Francis’s prayer for peace is as follows:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
This is not the first time the Knights have launched a prayer initiative intended to promote peace. In 2004, for instance, the organization called for Sept. 11, the anniversary of the Twin Towers terrorist attacks in New York, to be observed as a World Day of Prayer for Peace.
The Knights have also called for prayers on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide.