Novena for peace of mind

September 25-October 3

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September 25-October 3: For an End to Violence in American Society

General Intentions: For an end to violence in American society. For the redemption of social, cultural, and economic structures that implicitly or explicitly teach violence as the proper response to injustice or wrongdoing. For an end to the deification of guns, the barbarous practice of capital punishment, and the conversion of an entertainment industry that glorifies violence in all its forms. For an end to the Culture of Death and a flourishing of the Culture of Life.

Particular Intentions: For those people known to us who have suffered from the culture of violence in American society. For African Americans and others who have suffered violence at the hands of police. For police who have suffered violence at the hands of criminals. For current and former prisoners who have suffered violence in our unreformed prison system. For the families of those who have been killed in senseless gang or mass shootings. In reparation for our own contributions to the culture of violence in American society.

Introductory Prayers

Lord, open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise. Let us pray together in peace ✚ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Invitatory Psalm (Psalm 67)

O God, be gracious and bless us / and let your face shed its light upon us.
So will your ways be known upon earth / and all nations learn your saving help.

Let the nations be glad and exult / for you rule the world with justice.
With fairness you rule the peoples, / you guide the nations on earth.

The earth has yielded its fruit / for God, our God, has blessed us.
May God still give us his blessing / till the ends of the earth revere him.


My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.
From this day all generations shall call me blessed.
The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.
He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of His arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of His servant Israel for He has remembered His promise of mercy,
the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.

Glory Be

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

First Reading (Genesis 4:3-12)

In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground, while Abel, for his part, brought the fatty portion of the firstlings of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and dejected.

Then the LORD said to Cain: Why are you angry? Why are you dejected? If you act rightly, you will be accepted; but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it.

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

God then said: What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are banned from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. If you till the ground, it shall no longer give you its produce. You shall become a constant wanderer on the earth.

Second Reading (Galatians 5:13-25)

For you were called for freedom. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another. I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

Third Reading (Matthew 5:38-48)

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors* do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Reflection, from a letter of Fr. Daniel Berrigan, SJ, to Ernesto Cardenal

Alas, I have never seen anyone morally improved by killing; neither the one who aimed the bullet, nor the one who received it in his or her flesh.

Of course we have choices, of course we must decide. When all is said, we find that the gospel makes sense, that it strikes against our motives and actions or it does not. Can that word make sense at all today, can it be something more than utopian or extravagant? The gospel is after all a document out of a simpler age, a different culture. It may even be our duty to construct for ourselves another ethic, based on our own impasse or insights or ego. And go from there, with whatever assurance we can muster, amid the encircling gloom.

Or on the other hand, we can bow our heads before a few truths, crude, exigent, obscure as they are. The outcome of obedience we cannot know, the outcome of disobedience we can deceive ourselves about, indefinitely and sweetly. Thou shalt not kill. Love one another as I have loved you. If your enemy strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other. Practically everyone in the world, citizens and believers alike, consign such words to the images on church walls, or the embroideries in front parlors.

We really are stuck. Christians are stuck with this Christ, the impossible, unteachable, irreformable loser. Revolutionaries must correct him, act him aright. That absurd form, shivering under the crosswinds of power, must be made acceptable, relevant. So a gun is painted into his empty hands. Now he is human! Now he is like us.

Does it all have a familiar ring? In the old empires, the ragged rabbi must be cleaned up, invested in Byzantine robes of state, raised in glittering splendor to the dome of heaven. Correction! correction! we cry to those ignorant gospel scribes, Matthew and the rest. He was not like that, he was not helpless, he was not gentle, he was under no one’s heel, no one pushed him around! He would have taken up a gun if one had been at hand, he would have taken up arms, “solely for one reason; on account of his love for the kingdom of God.” Did he not have fantasies like ours, in hours out of the public glare, when he too itched for the quick solution, his eyes narrowed like gun sights?

How tricky it all gets! We look around at our culture: an uneasy mix of gunmen, gun makers, gun hucksters, gun researchers, gun runners, guards with guns, property owners with guns. A culture in which the guns put out contracts on the people, the guns own the people, the guns buy and sell the people, the guns practice targets on the people, the guns kill the people. The guns are our second nature, and the first nature is all but obliterated; it is gunned down.

And who will raise it up, that corpse with the neat hole in its temple, ourselves? It is impossible, it is against nature.

Christ asks the literally impossible. And then, our radical helplessness confessed, he confers what was impossible.

The Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States

Most holy and immaculate Virgin, Mother of Jesus and our loving Mother, we pray that your intercession may protect us and all people from hate and discord. Direct our hearts into the ways of peace and justice which your Son, the Prince of Peace, taught and exemplified. We ask your maternal care for our Holy Father who works to reconcile the nations in peace. We seek your guidance for our President, Members of Congress and the Supreme Court, governors, state legislators and judges, and all who hold authority in our nation. Inspire them and all Americans to renounce violence, reject the Culture of Death, and build a Culture of Life.

Closing Prayer

Lord, heal the American addiction to violence. Only you can cleanse us of our fascination with the means and methods of killing: on our streets, in our entertainments, our families, our politics, and our relations with other nations.  Renew the vision of a peaceable republic, where free and equal citizens can build communities of understanding and justice, and where all persons can flourish. Make that vision a reality in our time.

✚ May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to eternal life. Amen

Work of Mercy

In the Closing Prayer, above, we refer to the American “fascination with the means and methods of killing.” The word ‘fascination’ derives from the Latin word ‘fascinatio,’ which means “a bewitching.” American culture has been bewitched by violence, and the best way to break that spell is for each of us to practice nonviolence in our daily lives. And so, during this cycle make a decision to live nonviolently: permanently abstain from depictions of violence in entertainment; reform your rhetoric in political discussions; make a conscious effort to react gently to provocations in your family and workplace, defuse conflict when it inevitably arises with the goal of achieving a just resolution and reconciliation. Study nonviolence using these resources. Learn and practice Dr. Martin Luther King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence:

1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
2. The Beloved Community is the framework for the future.
3. Attack the forces of evil not persons doing evil.
4. Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal
5. Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence.
6. The Universe is on the side of justice.


Greg Boyle, SJ, is the founder and director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California. Fr. Boyle was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1984. In 1986, he was assigned to the Dolores Mission Church in a poor Latino neighborhood in East Los Angeles. The church was positioned between two large public housing projects and at the crossroads of several overlapping gang territories.

By 1988, having buried an ever growing number of young people killed in gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members sought to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth by developing positive opportunities for them, including establishing an alternative school and day care program, and seeking out legitimate employment.  They called this initial effort Jobs for a Future.  “Gang violence is about a lethal absence of hope,” Father Boyle has said.  “Nobody has ever met a hopeful kid who joined a gang.”

In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Jobs for a Future and Proyecto Pastoral, a community-organizing project begun at the parish, launched their first social enterprise business, Homeboy Bakery. In the ensuing years, the success of the bakery created the groundwork for additional social enterprise businesses, leading Jobs for a Future to become an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries.

Homeboy Industries is the largest and most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Homeboy offers an “exit ramp” for those stuck in a cycle of violence and incarceration. The organization’s holistic approach, with free services and programs, supports 10,000 men and women a year as they work to overcome their pasts, re-imagine their futures, and break the inter-generational cycles of gang violence. Therapeutic and educational offerings (case management, counseling, and classes), practical services (e.g., tattoo removal, work readiness, and legal assistance), and job training-focused business (e.g., Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Café, and Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery) provide healing alternatives to gang life, while creating safer and healthier communities.

Fr. Boyle is the author of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.

Hanan Al Hroub, of the Samiha Khalil Secondary School in Palestine is the recipient of the 2016 Global Teacher Prize. Hanan grew up in the Palestinian refugee camp, Bethlehem, where she was regularly exposed to acts of violence. She went into primary education after her children were left deeply traumatized by a shooting incident they witnessed on their way home from school. Her experiences in meetings and consultations to discuss her children’s behavior, development and academic performance in the years that followed led Hanan to try to help others who, having grown up in similar circumstances, require special handling at school.

With so many troubled children in the region, Palestinian classrooms can be tense environments. Hanan embraces the slogan ‘No to Violence’ and uses a specialist approach she developed herself, detailed in her book, ‘We Play and Learn’. She focuses on developing trusting, respectful, honest and affectionate relationships with her students and emphasizes the importance of literacy. She encourages her students to work together, pays close attention to individual needs and rewards positive behavior. Her approach has led to a decline in violent behavior in schools where this is usually a frequent occurrence; she has inspired her colleagues to review the way they teach, their classroom management strategies and the sanctions they use.

Almighty God, We bless you for our lives, we give you praise for your abundant mercy and grace we receive.

We thank you for your faithfulness even though we are not that faithful to you.

Lord Jesus, we ask you to give us all around peace in our mind, body, soul and spirit.

We want you to heal and remove everything that is causing stress, grief, and sorrow in our lives.

Please guide our path through life and make our enemies be at peace with us.

Let your peace reign in our family, at our place of work, businesses and everything we lay our hands on.

Let your angels of peace go ahead of us when we go out and stay by our side when we return. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


“Hail, Holy Queen,

Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope!
To thee do we cry,
poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy towards us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.”

V – Pray for us, most holy mother of God.

R – That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

“Virgin of the Incarnation,

a thousand times we greet thee,
a thousand times we praise thee
for thy joy when God was incarnated in thee.
Because thou art so powerful
a Virgin and Mother of God,
grant what we ask of thee for the love of God.”

Here state your first intention.

Repeat all of above and then state your second intention.
Repeat all of above and then state your third intention.


After the above prayers and intentions, say the Memorare.

Remember, O most Gracious Virgin Mary,

that never was it known
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help
or sought thy intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of Virgins,
my mother.
To thee do I cry,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.
Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.


Hail Mary…

Blessed and praised be

the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,
in Heaven, on earth and everywhere.


(Repeat the same prayer each day for 9 days.)

Divine Infant,

after the wonders of Your birth in Bethlehem,
You wished to extend Your infinite mercy to the whole world
by calling the Wise Men by heavenly inspiration to Your crib,
which was in this way changed into a royal throne.
You graciously received those holy men
who were obedient to the Divine call
and hastened to Your feet.
They recognized and worshipped You as Prince of Peace,
the Redeemer of mankind,
and the very Son of God.

Show us also Your goodness and almighty power.

Enlighten our minds,
strengthen our wills,
and inflame our hearts to know You,
to serve You,
and to love You in this life,
that we may merit to find our joy in You eternally in the life to come.

O Jesus, most powerful Child,

I implore You again to help me:

(State your intention here…)Divine Child, great omnipotent God,

I implore through Your most Holy Mother’s most powerful intercession,
and through the boundless mercy of Your omnipotence as God,
for a favorable answer to my prayer during this Novena.
Grant me the grace of possessing You eternally
with Mary and Joseph
and of adoring You with Your holy angels and saints.

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