We used to wonder where war lived,
what it was that made it so vile.
And now we realize that we know where it lives,
that it is inside ourselves.
So instead of loving what you think is peace,
love other [people] and love God above all.
And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers,
hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul,
which are the causes of war.
If you love peace,
then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed –
but hate these things in yourself, not in another."
—Thomas Merton, from "New Seeds of Contemplation"
A Prayer for Deliverance
O God, your glory blazes with the light of love and justice, your righteousness and your mercy flow together as one mighty stream: May we who beseech deliverance from violence, oppression, and degradation be purged within of their roots—of fear, envy, powerlessness, anger, resentment, the lust for revenge and the desire to hurt—and of the blindness and willfulness which beset our best intentions; that we may not act with violence, neither oppress nor degrade any of your creatures, but may strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
This prayer expands a petition from Form I of the Prayers of the People and concludes with the final vow of our Baptismal Covenant. Imagery is drawn either explicitly or allusively from Hebrews 12:29 (and Eliot’s complex vision of fire in “Little Gidding”), Amos 5:24, Ezekiel 34:26, Psalm 72:6-7, Ezekiel 47, Revelation 22. The themes of fire and water mingle in the Orthodox liturgies of the Feast of the Theophany.