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Litany of Unity & Hope

This litany of interfaith understanding is written by Karen Senecal, for a New York City Christian congregation after September 11. Her writing, drawing from the Prophet Muhammad, encourages peace and unity between faiths. May we remember that words matter, and may we support our Muslim brothers and sisters. 

One: “What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the wrongs of the injured.”

All: We acknowledge that we have been tempted to seek only our own good, hear only our own truth, and acknowledge only our own suffering. Let us start along the road to justice and peace by holding the pain of our sisters and brothers as if it were our own. We pray that no more children are lost to indifference and violence.

One: “Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has not kindness has not faith.”

All: We pray for the courage to transform this beautiful planet into a place where people are not tormented by wars and not torn apart in senseless divisions. Together we will find the strength to resist hatred by our caring. Help us remember that it is our hands that shape the earth.

One: “The exercise of religious duties will not atone for the fault of an abusive tongue.”

All: We pray, without ceasing, that our words become actions that give life the shape of justice.

One: “God is a unity and likes unity.”

All: Help all persons to be able to not merely see the similarities between all people, but to feel less fear in the differences. If this can be our focus, perhaps our goal may be not for homogeny, but for a true and joyful diversity.

One: “Anyone of you who sees wrong, let him undo it with his hand; and if he cannot, then let him speak against it with his tongue; and if he cannot do this either, then let him abhor it with his heart, and this is the least of faith.”

All: Every human life is precious to God and the human community. Each human path of faith is a sacred journey within life.

One: “He is true who protects his brother or sister both present and absent.”

All: We pray for our sisters and brothers who have no sense of safety in their daily lives. We consider the hatred we witness and participate unwittingly in, and we pray for more than fear and tolerance to dominate people’s thoughts and motivation in these trying days.

About This Litany. This litany was written in the week after September 11, 2001, by the Rev. Karen Senecal for use by the congregation of Judson Memorial Church, New York City, which is located in Greenwich Village not far from the site of the World Trade Center. It was used again in a Service of Lamentation held on March 20, 2003, the day after the start of the Iraq war. The collection of hadith was contributed by Sufi Shaikh Kabir Helminski, cofounder of the Threshold Society.

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