Make Poverty History

Liturgy and Prayer resources

There is one other point which I would like to emphasize, since it significantly affects the authenticity of our communal sharing in the Eucharist. It is the impulse which the Eucharist gives to the community for a practical commitment to building a more just and fraternal society. In the Eucharist our God has shown love in the extreme, overturning all those criteria of power which too often govern human relations and radically affirming the criterion of service: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mc 9:35). It is not by chance that the Gospel of John contains no account of the institution of the Eucharist, but instead relates the “washing of feet” (cf. Jn 13:1-20): by bending down to wash the feet of his disciples, Jesus explains the meaning of the Eucharist unequivocally. Saint Paul vigorously reaffirms the impropriety of a Eucharistic celebration lacking charity expressed by practical sharing with the poor (cf.1Cor 11:17-22, 27-34).

Can we not make this Year of the Eucharist an occasion for diocesan and parish communities to commit themselves in a particular way to responding with fraternal solicitude to one of the many forms of poverty present in our world? I think for example of the tragedy of hunger which plagues hundreds of millions of human beings, the diseases which afflict developing countries, the loneliness of the elderly, the hardships faced by the unemployed, the struggles of immigrants. These are evils which are present—albeit to a different degree—even in areas of immense wealth. We cannot delude ourselves: by our mutual love and, in particular, by our concern for those in need we will be recognized as true followers of Christ (cf. Jn 13:35; Mt 25:31-46). This will be the criterion by which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations is judged.

John Paul II, Mane Nobiscum Domine 28

Often when preparing liturgies or times of prayer for special occasions and events the first instinct is to create a ‘special liturgy’. Sometimes this is desirable. But every liturgy should focus us on the values of the kingdom, and on the mission of the Church to minister communion to the world. Often these themes are explicit in the readings and prayers of the Mass and Offices of the Day, sometimes they are more implicit. However we do not necessarily serve ourselves well by assuming that they are not there. The social teaching of the Church, and the call to work for justice are not intended to be occasional optional themes in our liturgy. Rather, as is made clear by Pope John Paul in the passage above, attentiveness to the social dimension of Christian living is always an important aspect of our celebration of the liturgy.

On the special occasions the ‘point’ will be made more clearly not by importing special texts but by making explicit what is in the given ones.

At the same time the Missal and Lectionary, do provide a range of resources for ‘special occasions, notably in the sections for Various Needs and Occasions.

Additional resources may be found in the non-sacramental Penitential celebrations encouraged in the Rite of Penance (cf. Rite of Penance, Appendix II)

Penitential celebrations are gatherings of the people of God to hear the proclamation of God’s word. This invites them to conversion and renewal of life and announces our freedom from sin through the death and resurrection of Christ.

(Rite of Penance, 36)

Missal

Masses and Prayer for Various Needs and Occasions

  • I For the Church
    • For the spread of the Gospel
    • For persecuted Christians
    • For pastoral or spiritual meetings
  • II For Civil Needs
    • For those who serve in public office
    • For peace and justice
  • III For various public needs
    • For the blessing of man’s labour
    • For productive land
    • After the harvest
    • In time of famine or for those who suffer from famine
    • For any need
    • In thanksgiving
  • IV For particular needs
    • For charity
    • For promoting harmony
    • For our oppressors

Appropriate readings can be found in the complementary sections of the Lectionary (cf. Volume III pp405ff)

The Eucharistic Prayer for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions can be used at all such celebrations.

Additional resources in the liturgical books include

  • the non-sacramental Penitential celebrations encouraged in the Rite of Penance (cf. Rite of Penance, Appendix II)
    • Penitential celebrations are gatherings of the people of God to hear the proclamation of God’s word. This invites them to conversion and renewal of life and announces our freedom from sin through the death and resurrection of Christ. (Rite of Penance, 36)
  • the scrutinies in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. In their given liturgical form these are only to be used with the Elect (those preparing for Baptism at the Easter Vigil), but the liturgical form, with its close relationship between the reading of particular Gospel passages; prayers for those seeking to deepen their relationship with the Lord; and prayers that the group might be freed from the power of sin, provide a useful model for other times of prayer.
    • The scrutinies are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong and good. (RCIA 128)
  • the liturgical forms offered in the Book of Blessings. These might be used as given, for example Order for Blessing of those gathered at a meeting, Order for Blessing of Organisations concerned with Public Need. Sometimes rites might be adapted. The Order for Blessing of Missionaries sent to proclaim the gospel, for example, is intended for the blessing of those being sent to work abroad to work in other local Churches. However it might be adapted for use with those undertaking a more local work – for example staffing Make Poverty History or Trade Justice stalls in local town centres.

Links to a range of other prayer resources

The above resources are liturgy resources. For further background on the campaigns and issues that has inspired them please visit