The Prayer of Joseph Lowery
The parish of my youth included a number older people whose native language was Italian. Father Fanelli, who had grown old in the service of the Lord, heard their confessions and ministered to them as they lay sick or dying. One day, after hearing him give the homily, my mother said that all his sermons were the same: “Little children, love one another.”
Joseph Lowery made me think of Father Fanelli today. He was hidden by the microphones, just as Father Fanelli was hidden behind the lectern on the pulpit at St. Joseph’s, only their gray hair and goggle glasses visible as they focus on the paper in their trembling hands.
Reverend Lowery begins with an invocation of a manifestation of God we have not heard in public discourse in years:
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
While God is mighty, that might is invoked not for victory or wealth, but that with hope that it will
keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee,
Reverend Lowery asks for the help of this God not only for our President, but for the whole world. He reminds us that the Almighty works
… through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, of the least of these, and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.
He asks for the blessings that come from working with each other, loving instead of hating, tolerance and sacrifice. He closes with a touching chant, a picture of a new beginning of equality. But before that, there are two images Father Fanelli would have loved:
We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead.
With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day … when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid….
Amen, Reverend Lowery, Amen.