Monday, September 26, 2005

A Reflection on Lamentation - The Gulf Coast Disaster

The following is from Prayerful Reflections and Faithful Responses to the Gulf Coast Disaster, a free resource prepared by JustFaith Ministries. JustFaith offers gives permission to parishes to reprint this. Please simply acknowledge JustFaith Ministries in your reprint.

“My God, my God why have you abandoned me?” (Psalm 22:2; Mark 13:24; Matthew 27:46)

Lamentation is a natural human response to tragedy. To lament means to express our sorrow, seek repentance, share our disbelief, and make our anxiety known. When we allow our pain to be felt by others, we evoke compassion, and we are moved by suffering that touches everyone. In order to lament we must allow something to affect us deeply. We lament when the pain is too much to bear, when we fail to understand why, when we feel out of control, abandoned or alone. When we lament we invite God and others to intervene. Our faith teaches us that we are transformed when we choose to share pain rather than bear pain alone. Lamentation is the first stage in reclaiming our shared responsibility in the suffering of others. Before we protest, we need to lament. Otherwise we will be reactionary rather than responsive, motivated by anger rather than moved by compassion, seeking to blame rather than looking to heal and restore what has been lost.

Some additional readings:
Psalm 130 - From the depths we cry out to God
Psalm 42 - As a deer yearns for running streams, we long for God
Matthew 23:37-39 - Jesus laments over the city of peace
Luke 23:27-31 - Women lament the suffering of Jesus

Some suggestions:

  • Use the prayer of lament (below) with family, friends, in your church or school.
  • With your family, or your JustFaith group, consider making an act of solidarity with those who are suffering, such as a day of dedicated to fasting and prayer.
  • Invite parishioners and local faith communities to join you in a prayerful memorial service, honoring the ones who have died, and pledging to support those who have been displaced.
  • Create an image, poster, prayer card or monument that laments the loss of life and dignifies the suffering of the people.
  • Prayerfully connect this disaster with other recent humanitarian crises (September 11th, Darfur, the Tsunami, Niger…)