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Monday, 22 May 2017 22:30

National Day of Healing and Reconciliation Week prayer resources

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welcome country brochureNational Day of Healing, previously known as Sorry Day, is marked annually on 26 May to "focus on the healing needed throughout Australian Society if we are to achieve reconciliation" (Extract from the National Sorry Day Council Archives: Senator Aden Ridgeway, National Day of Healing Launch, Great Hall Parliament House, Canberra, Wednesday 25 May 2005).

This is followed by Reconciliation Week celebrated on May 27-3 June to celebrate and build on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. 

Reconciliation Week is bookended by two important milestones in the reconciliation journey: 

  • May 27: Marks the anniversary of Australia’s most successful referendum in 1967 which saw over 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census 
  • 3 June: Commemorates the High Court of Australia’s landmark Mabo decision in 1992, which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land—a relationship that existed prior to colonalisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights or Native Title.

Below are prayers and liturgy resources for use during this period collated by CRA Network Coordinator Fr Claude Mostowik msc. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Reconciliation Prayer
Holy Father, God of Love,
You are the Creator of all things.

We acknowledge the pain and shame of our history
and the sufferings of Our peoples,
and we ask your forgiveness.
We thank you for the survival of Indigenous cultures

Our hope is in you because you gave your Son Jesus
to reconcile the world to you.
We pray for your strength and grace to forgive, accept and love one another, as you love us and forgive and accept us in the sacrifice of your Son.

Give us the courage to accept the realities of our history so that we may build a better
future for our Nation.
Teach us to respect all cultures.
Teach us to care for our land and waters.
Help us to share justly the resources of this land. Help us to bring about spiritual and social change to improve the quality of life for all groups in our communities, especially the disadvantaged.
Help young people to find true dignity and self-esteem by your Spirit.

May your power and love be the foundations on which we build our families, our communities and our Nation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Wontulp Bi-Buya Indigenous Theology Working Group 13 March 1997 Brisbane, Qld).


National Reconciliation Prayer
Creator Spirit,
All creation once declared your glory,
Your laws were honoured and trusted,
Forgive us our neglect as our country approaches
the most critical moment in its history.
Listen to our prayer as we turn to you,
Hear the cry of our land and its people,
Just as you heard the cry of Jesus,
your Son, on the Cross.
Help us to replace our national shame
With true national pride by restoring the
dignity of our First People whose antiquity is
unsurpassed.
May our faith and trust in you increase.

Only then will our nation grow strong and be
a worthy place for all who wish to make their home in our land.
Amen.
© Elizabeth Pike, September 1997
Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, Melbourne.

The Dawn is at Hand
Dark brothers, first Australian race,
Soon you will take your rightful place
In the brotherhood long waited for,
Fringe-dwellers no more.
Sore, sore the tears you shed
When hope seemed folly and justice dead.
Was the long night weary? Look up, dark band,
The dawn is at hand.

Go forward proudly and unafraid
To your birthright all too long delayed,
For soon now the shame of the past
Will be over at last.

You will be welcomed mateship-wise
In industry and in enterprise;
No profession will bar the door,
Fringe-dwellers no more.

Dark and white upon common ground
In club and office and social round,
Yours the feel of a friendly land,
The grip of the hand.

Sharing the same equality
In college and university,
All ambitions of hand or brain.
Yours to attain.

For ban and bias will soon be gone,
The future beckons you bravely on
To art and letters and nation lore,
Fringe-dwellers no more.
Oodgeroo of the Noonucal Tribe

Companion Prayer
Lord, we are companions on a journey
Only you Dear Lord
know the identity and depth of me
You know my hurts and pains
those frustrations I feel in this land
So please, I ask you take my hand
and comfort me
Reconcile and guide me in justice and in faith
For we’re on our way to Alice (Springs)
where you expressed your love for me
Lord, set me free
and let me be the servant I want to be
Lord, I thank you
for hearing and understanding me
For Lord, You are always on my mind
and on my lips and in my heart
And there’s simply no other way
that it could be.
NATSICC © November 2004
http://www.natsicc.org.au/reconciliation-week-prayers.html
Additional Prayers from Murri Ministry (QLD)


RITUAL OF RECONCILIATION

Music: Didgeridoo / Bush or nature sounds
Location: Bush setting- Beach setting-Open Air if possible

Welcome to Country ... (by an Indigenous person present) ....

Leader: (Acknowledgement of Land, Traditional Owners and Community Elders if only non-Indigenous people present)

We acknowledge the traditional owners / caretakers who have walked and cared for this land for thousands of years, and their descendants who maintain these spiritual connections and traditions. Let us observe a minute of silence to reflect on the millions of footprints that travelled the Dreaming pathways and our own loved ones who have gone before us.

Opening Prayer:
O God, Creator of all peoples, we thank you that you are found and worshipped in every land, in dance and community, in suffering and peace-making, in silence and singing and in the faithfulness of your people.
We especially thank You for the gift of Your servant, Pope John Paul, who came to our land twenty years ago and met with the first peoples of this country. We recall his challenges to us and commit ourselves to work together to become the Church that Jesus wants us to be, to be a Church where Indigenous people are able to make their contribution to her life and where that contribution is joyfully received by all.
Forgive us when we have failed to heed the Pope's call, when we tie our own hands through prejudice or an ungenerous spirit. Lead us, together, to value our many traditions and to listen to the wisdom that we can offer each other. Give us new hearts to be people of reconciliation in the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

L: We pray for a truthful mind and heart. May we listen with care to the stories of the peoples of this land.

All: Justice and peace shall embrace and peace will follow after.

L: May we listen with wonder to the story of endless generations of Indigenous human presence and cultural activity in this land.

All: Justice and peace shall embrace and peace will follow after.

L: May we listen openly to the painful story of conflict, dispossession and suffering that followed the invasive arrival of our European forebears and the taking of the land.

All: Justice and peace shall embrace and peace will follow after.

L: May we hear in our hearts the determination of those who survived and the courage of those few new arrivals who opposed the violence of these times.

All: Justice and peace shall embrace and peace will follow after.

L: May we hear with excitement all those who in our own day work together to build a more just and respectful community for all Australians.

All: Justice and peace shall embrace and peace will follow after.

L: We pray for the gift of respect for one another. May we welcome and appreciate every person whom we meet and value all that makes us different from one another.

All: Justice and peace shall embrace and peace will follow after.

L: We pray for a commitment to justice. May we grow in our understanding of the rights and responsibilities of all the people who make up our community.

All: Justice and peace shall embrace and peace will follow after.

L: May barriers of race, culture, suspicion, misunderstanding and fears be overcome.

All: Justice and peace shall embrace and peace will follow after

L: May we all seek to be agents of God's justice, love and reconciliation.

All: Justice and peace shall embrace and peace will follow after.

L: As a sign of our desire for reconciliation we join with all who seek the same reconciliation by saying together the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation's Vision and by passing to each other the Message Stick as a symbol of our passing on the Spirit of reconciliation to all we meet.

All: We desire "a united Australia which respects this land of ours, values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and provides justice and equity for all".

Suggestions For Use With Eucharist:

Penitential Rite
You call us to be one human family, united in love. Lord have mercy.
You hear the cry of the poor and the dispossessed. Lord have mercy.
Your love opens the door to true peace and reconciliation. Lord have mercy.

Final Blessing
May the God who dances in creation, Who embraces us with human love, Who shakes our lives like thunder, Bless us and drive us out with power To fill the world with justice and with peace; And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy spirit, be upon you and remain with you always Amen.

Some suitable songs from "As One Voice"
50: Act Justly, 91: Prayer for Peace, 121: Love Will Bring Them Home, 157: Mother Earth, 158: A New Heart for a New World, 162: Be Reconciled As One


Aboriginal Eucharistic Prayer
(The responses in this Eucharistic Prayer are sung to the tune of the Aboriginal Lord's Prayer "You are our Father")
Priest: The Lord be with you.
ALL: AND ALSO WITH YOU.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
ALL: WE LIFT THEM UP TO THE LORD.
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
ALL: IT IS RIGHT TO GIVE OUR THANKS AND PRAISE.
Priest: Father in heaven, you love us.
You made all things.
Father, you made the rivers that gave us water and fish.
You made the mountains and the flat country.
You made the kangaroos and goannas and birds for us.
ALL: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY LORD, EARTH AND HEAVEN TRULY ARE THE LORD’S.
Father, you send the sun to keep us warm,
And the rain to make the grass grow, and to fill the waterholes.
Father, you made us your people.
ALL: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY LORD, EARTH AND HEAVEN TRULY ARE THE LORD’S.
Priest: Father, you called us to be your children and we would not follow you.
You sent Jesus, your only Son, to be our brother and friend.
He told us about you.
ALL: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY LORD, EARTH AND HEAVEN TRULY ARE THE LORD’S.
Priest: He was born on Christmas day. His mother was Mary.
He taught the people. They listened to him.
Bad people nailed him to the cross
He rose up again alive.
He made us all his brothers and sisters when we were baptised. We join together now and sing:
ALL: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY LORD, EARTH AND HEAVEN TRULY ARE THE LORD’S.
Priest: Father in heaven, you are truly good. You make us good in our hearts.
Your Holy Spirit will come upon these two presents that we hold up to you.
Through your word they will become for us the body + and blood of your only Son, Jesus the Lord.
ALL: YOU ARE OUR FATHER, YOU LIVE IN HEAVEN, WE TALK TO YOU, FATHER YOU ARE GOOD.
Priest: A long time ago, in the night, Jesus and his friends eat together. Before he dies, Jesus takes the bread. He holds it up to you Father. He calls you good, Father. He breaks the bread. And he says to his friends:
Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you.
ALL: JESUS IS LORD, JESUS IS LORD, JESUS IS LORD AND WE BELIEVE HIS WORD.
Priest: then he takes the wine in the cup. He holds it up to you, Father. He says to his friends:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.
ALL: JESUS IS LORD, JESUS IS LORD, JESUS IS LORD AND WE BELIEVE HIS WORD.
Priest: Let us say together:
ALL: THE BREAD HAS BECOME THE BODY OF THE LORD. THE WINE HAS BECOME THE BLOOD OF THE LORD. WE CANNOT SEE THIS. BY THE WORD OF THE LORD JESUS, WE BELIEVE IT.
Priest: The Lord Jesus died for us
ALL: WE PRAISE YOU, FATHER. WE BLESS YOU, FATHER. WE THANK YOU, FATHER. FATHER, YOU ARE GOOD.
Priest: The Lord Jesus rose again alive and went to heaven.
ALL: WE PRAISE YOU, FATHER. WE BLESS YOU, FATHER. WE THANK YOU, FATHER. FATHER, YOU ARE GOOD.
Priest: The Lord Jesus comes again.
ALL: WE PRAISE YOU, FATHER. WE BLESS YOU, FATHER. WE THANK YOU, FATHER. FATHER, YOU ARE GOOD.
Priest: Father in heaven, we give you these two presents. This living bread – it is the body of the Lord Jesus. This living wine – it is the blood of the Lord Jesus.
Your Holy Spirit will make us of one mind and one heart. You call us here. We are happy with you. We will follow what you say.
Soon we will eat that food, the body and blood of your Son. Then we will be of one mind and one heart.
Father in heaven, remember John Paul our Pope and Leonard our bishop; remember all bishops and priests. Remember all the people of God, especially those who are here.
Remember all your people who have died as your friends.
ALL: WE PRAISE YOU, FATHER. WE BLESS YOU, FATHER. WE THANK YOU, FATHER. FATHER, YOU ARE GOOD.
THROUGH HIM, WITH HIM, IN HIM, IN THE UNITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, ALL GLORY AND HONOUR IS YOURS, ALMIGHTY FATHER, FOREVER AND EVER.
ALL: AMEN.

Aboriginal Lord’s Prayer
(Slightly adapted from the traditional words.)
YOU ARE OUR FATHER, YOU LIVE IN HEAVEN, WE TALK TO YOU, FATHER YOU ARE GOOD.
WE BELIEVE YOUR WORD, FATHER, WE YOUR CHILDREN, GIVE US BREAD TODAY.
OTHERS HAVE DONE WRONG TO US AND WE ARE SORRY FOR THEM, FATHER, TODAY.
WE HAVE DONE WRONG, WE ARE SORRY, TEACH US FATHER NOT TO SIN AGAIN.
STOP US FROM DOING WRONG, FATHER, SAVE US ALL FROM THE EVIL ONE.
YOU ARE OUR FATHER, YOU LIVE IN HEAVEN, WE TALK TO YOU, FATHER YOU ARE GOOD.


Land, Fire and Water Ceremony
A container of local earth, a container of water (usually a coolamon) and a fire are placed at the front of the assembly. The room (if possible) is in darkness with just enough light for the following to be read. If possible the didgeridoo should be heard in the background. The ceremony can take place with Indigenous people alone or with Indigenous and Non-indigenous. This version presumes the presence of Non-indigenous people and has a Reconciliation theme. The ceremony can be adapted for use with Indigenous people alone.
Indigenous Person
For thousands of years before recorded time,
our people have walked on this LAND,
on their own country.
Our relationship with the land is at the centre of our lives.
Our country is our mother:
in a sense our country is us.

FIRE is important to our people; our people could not do without it.
Fire means
the calling of people together
the gathering in a circle around the fire for cooking and eating and for warmth at night;
the gathering for ceremonies;
the gathering for story telling;
the place for being together.
Fire is at the heart of our Indigenous culture.

WATER is also important to our people.
In the driest part of the driest country,
water is life-giving,
refreshing,
cooling
and cleansing
to our country and to us.
Indigenous Person
Land, Fire and Water also have deep symbolism in our Christian heritage.
In the Old Testament LAND was God's promise to the Jewish people.
In the New Testament, Christian people are called to have a deep sense of care for land and all creation.
All creation and life looks forward to the promised land of heaven.
For Christians FIRE represents the light of Christ. The Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles at Pentecost as tongues of fire. We think of the flame of faith burning in people's lives.
WATER is the symbol of baptism, which gives us new life and hope and makes us one with Jesus and with each other.

Non-Indigenous Person
As Non-Indigenous and Indigenous people together,
let us have a sense of the importance of (name the traditional owners or tribe or clan) country upon which we are standing.
Let us sense the land beneath our feet and know to whom it belongs.
(Pause)
Let us have a sense of the importance of water and fire - as Indigenous and Christian life symbols.
(Pause)
The cool, refreshing water; giving life to Indigenous and Non-indigenous alike. The water giving life to people in baptism.
(Pause)
The warm, inviting fire drawing us all, Indigenous and Non-indigenous, together. the light of Christ, the flame of the Holy Spirit, bringing us together in Jesus.
(Pause)

Indigenous Person
This container is filled with earth from our land.
This is our fire.
This coolamon is filled with water.
We invite you to come forward in a moment and touch this earth, our land.
We invite you to touch the water and put your hands in the water.
Let us feel and sense it as life-giving.
You may like to make a cross on your forehead with the water.
We invite you to feel the warmth of our fire.
Let us sense the warmth as a call to all people in this country to come together warmly, sharing our different stories and being together as one.
(Everyone now comes forward to touch the earth and the water and feel the warmth of the flame. This takes place with a didgeridoo backing.)

(Sometimes the following prayer is added to the end of this ceremony.)

A Dreaming Prayer
Creator Spirit,
you created all things, seen and unseen,
listen to our silent prayer as we stand here before you.
Our weary eyes look back over distant horizons, back to those days where our people walked.
The footprints of our ancestors are imprinted on the earth, and their images are real to us.
We see our grandfathers, standing tall and strong, warriors of long ago.
We see our grandmothers, strong and hard working women.
We hear them singing, we see them dancing, and our spirits move within us.
They told of emus fighting, and the kangaroos picking up the scent of our hunters …………
The images fade away as we feel the hurt of our people.
We can hear the cries of our grandmothers as they cry for their children.
Loving Creator, you can see us as we stand here and feel this hurt.
Let us walk with you, loving Creator, towards the dawning of a proud and new nation.
We thank you for our sacred being.

RECONCILIATION PRAYER
Holy Father, God of Love
You are the Creator of this land and of all good things.
We acknowledge the pain and shame of our history
and the suffering of our peoples,
and we ask your forgiveness.
We thank you for the survival of indigenous cultures.
Our hope is in you because you gave your Son Jesus
to reconcile the world to you.
We pray for your strength and grace to forgive,
accept and love one another,
as you love us and forgive and accept us
in the sacrifice of your Son.
Give us the courage to accept the realities of our history
so that we may build a better future for our nation.
Teach us to respect all cultures.
Teach us to care for our land and waters.
Help us to share justly the resources of this land.
Help us to bring about spiritual and social change
to improve the quality of life for all groups in our communities,
especially the disadvantaged.
Help young people to find true dignity and self esteem by your Spirit.
May your power and love be the foundations
on which we build our families, our communities and our nation,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prepared by Wontulp-Bi-Buya
Indigenous Theology Working Group, 13th March 1997, Brisbane
Wontulp-Bi-Buya is the Queensland branch of Nungalinya College, Darwin, and provides leadership training for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. The Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran and Uniting Churches support wontulp-Bi-Buya in Queensland. A group of Aboriginal Christian leaders from the partner Churches of Wontulp-Bi-Buya form the Indigenous Theology Working Group. They meet periodically for discussion and draw on their life experiences, traditional spirituality, Biblical reflection and Christian spirituality, to give expression in indigenous theology for the everyday life of their people.

The Dreaming Prayer
Creator of all, you gave us the Dreaming.
You have always spoken to us through our beliefs.
You then made your love clear to us in the person of Jesus.
We thank you for your care.
You own us, you are our hope.
Make us strong as we face the problems of change.
We ask you to help all the people of Australia
To listen to us and respect our culture.
Make the knowledge of you grow strong in all people,
so that you can find a home in us,
and we can make a home for every one in our land.
this we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prepared by a national committee of Indigenous people for the Visit of Pope John Paul II to Australia in 1986

The Words of Deacon Boniface Perdjert of Port Keats
(These words, especially in the communal form printed below, make an excellent introduction to the Liturgy of the Word, or to the whole Eucharistic celebration.)

God did not begin to take an interest in people
with the incarnation of his Son,
nor with Abraham.
My people existed here in Australia thousands of years before Abraham.
In all that time God was with my people.
He worked through their culture.
He was saving us despite human weakness.
He was preparing us for the day
when he would see the features of Aboriginals
in the image of his Son.
So I must recognise,
I must use the things of God that are in my culture.
I must use them in his service.
If I do not do this,
my faith and my service are shallow.
They are a pretending.
They belong to some one else, not to me.
God has asked us to love him with whole mind, heart and soul.
So I must give myself to God as an Aboriginal.
This is what God wants or he would not have made me what I am.
(These words were written in the late 1970s)

The Words of Deacon Boniface Perdjert of Port Keats
(Edited for Communal Celebration)

God did not begin to take an interest in people with the incarnation of the Son, nor with Abraham.
Our people existed here in Australia thousands of years before Abraham.
In all that time God was with our people. God worked through our culture.
God was saving us despite human weakness.
We were being prepared for the day when God would see the features of Aboriginals in the image of the Son.
So we must recognise, we must use the things of God that are in our culture.
We must use them in God’s service.
If we do not do this, our faith and our service are shallow.
They are a pretending. They belong to some one else, not to us.
We are called to love God and each other with whole mind, heart and soul.
So we must give ourselves to God as an Aboriginal people.
This is what God wants or God would not have made us what we are.

Blessing of the Water
A container (ideally a coolamon) is filled with water and placed at the front of the gathering. This ceremony can be used to replace the "Rite of blessing and sprinkling of holy water" at the beginning of the Catholic Eucharist.

Leader:
Lord, Almighty God,
hear the prayers of your people.
For thousands of years water has given life to our land
and cool refreshment and cleansing to our people.
It has been a symbol of life for us.
In baptism you make water holy,
You give us new life and you refresh us with the Spirit.
May this water remind us of our baptism,
and let us share the joy of all those who have been baptised.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
ALL: AMEN
Priest/Minister: Loving Creator we ask you to bless + this water and to keep us faithful with Jesus to the Spirit you have given us in baptism.
The bowls of water are then passed around the people who dip their fingers in the water and make the sign of the cross.


Smoking Ceremony
Smoking is a traditional ceremony which takes place in many different parts of this country.
Green leaves are held over a fire and the people attending the ceremony "bath" themselves in the smoke thus produced.
The smoking can mean preparation, cleansing, purifying, or the driving away of evil spirits. In some places it was associated with mourning or the "sorry camp".
People "wash" or immerse themselves in the smoke.
Smoking can take place before a eucharist or other church service when the room, chapel, church and/or altar and people can be smoked; or before the reading of the gospel when the bible or lectionary can be smoked; or at the preparation of the altar when the bread and wine can be smoked.

[Making the Smoke: a simple method of making smoke for a smoking ceremony is to place burning charcoals – used in incense burners or thuribles and readily available – in a coolamon or other suitable container. Fragrant Australian oils – such as eucalyptus, wattle, “Australian bush”, etc – can be poured onto the coals. Fragrant smoke is produced. The oils are readily available in stores. The smoke is also “kind” to eyes and noses!]

(Featured image from the Acknowledgment of Traditional Owners brochure from www.natsicc.org.au.)