Issue Date: April 4, 2003
THE CANTICLE OF CONFESSION
By EDWARD HAYS
In the darkness we knelt, afraid to
And out of the darkness came a tender voice:
Fear not, be
not afraid to unburden your hearts,
for am I not your compassionate
* * *
O God, be merciful to us Your
for we confess that were guilty of war.
participates in our nations sins.
As the left hand shares the sins of
so we each share in the immoral act
of our country crossing
the world to wage war
when no enemy threatens our shores.
Taxes provide the government with
to buy laser-precise rockets with wizard-like minds,
as well as
stealth bombers and cluster bombs
made to rain down destruction and
The representatives weve voted into office
rubber-stamped this war
conceived by our President and the Pentagon
will set in motion a domino effect of death.
Can we feel absolution when
it will be a quick and easy little war,
that stocks will
go up, gas prices down?
A fast and dashing fight, a new
a lightning war like the Germans quickly
over Polands ill-equipped army.
Yet fast or long, all wars leave
a wasteland of suffering and death.
As Germans bore guilt for
their war sins,
and the Japanese assumed shame for theirs,
how can we
Americans now escape
our responsibility for this unjust war?
Some of us dont want our name
on any war
and have told all who would listen
of our opposition to an
Yet the millions of antiwar protesters
at home and across
the entire world
have become muted, paralyzed and impotent
to stop the
grinding wheels of war
which we as Americans have helped to turn.
paradoxically, powerless and responsible.
Yet our powerlessness allows us to
for the peace-loving and patriotic Israeli Jew,
own military kills innocent Arabs
and bulldozes his Palestinian
under the pretext of hunting possible
Our impotency opens us to share the pain
of the peace-loving
Gaza Strip Palestinian
whose human-bomb neighbor blows up
an Israeli bus
full of women and children
in a misguided martyrdom of a holy
O God, we long for some sacrificial
upon whom the high priest of long ago
would ritually invest the sins
of the nation,
then drive it out into the desert to die.
grace of the High Priest, Your Son,
grant us such holy
atonement for this war
being waged in our name, with our money,
without Your blessing.
For this our national sin, and for
personal sins of failing to live peacefully,
O merciful God,
grant to us absolution.
* * *
Out of the enclosing darkness
emerges a voice:
Your sin is forgiven. Go
But be prepared to reap the coming harvest
youve sown on
the bitter winds of war.
Thank you for your gracious
but You didnt tell us about our penance.
At every opportunity you
are to wage peace
and do the smallest of things with great
We do not find that a very harsh
Its not intended as
punitive but purgative,
for every small act of kindness done in love
shrinks your share in the coming great harvest
of resentment, terrorism
and the threat
of ever-escalating war.
Fr. Edward Hays, a priest of the archdiocese
of Kansas City, Kan., is the founder of Shantivanam House of Prayer in Easton,
Kan., and an accomplished author and artist. The Canticle of
Confession © 2003 Forest of Peace Publishing, Inc.;
www.forestofpeace.com. Reprinted with permission.
AUTHOR INFO HEREshould always be at least 10pt
National Catholic Reporter, April 4, 2003