Monasteries of the Heart

Prayer for Conscience and Courage in Times of Public Struggle

Loving God,
lead us beyond ourselves
to care and protect,
to nourish and shape,
to challenge and energize
both the life and the world
You have given us.

God of light and God of darkness,
God of conscience and God of courage
lead us through this time
of spiritual confusion and public uncertainty.

Lead us beyond fear, apathy and defensiveness
to new hope in You and to hearts full of faith.

Give us the conscience it takes
to comprehend what we’re facing,
to see what we’re looking at
and to say what we see
so that others, hearing us,
may also brave the pressure that comes
with being out of public step.

Give us the courage we need
to confront those things
that compromise our consciences
or threaten our integrity.

Give us, most of all,
the courage to follow those before us
who challenged wrong and changed it,
whatever the cost to themselves.

Mary, Mother of Jesus,
you confronted the systems
of the world
in order to do the will of God.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of those burdened
by oppressive laws
and give us courage
to join them in the struggle.

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys,
founder of the Congregation of Notre Dame,
you challenged even the church
in order to send women missionaries
into foreign lands.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of women everywhere
and give us courage to support them.

St. Thomas Aquinas,
doctor of the church,
you were condemned
by the bishop of Paris
for reconciling the theology of the time
with the thinking of the time.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of new ideas
and give us courage to test them.

St. Maximilian Kolbe,
you gave your life
in place of a condemned prisoner
in Auschwitz.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of life
and give us the courage
to protect it.

St. Polycarp,
you were executed for refusing
to proclaim “Caesar is Lord.”
Touch our conscience
on behalf of just government
and give us the courage to demand it.

St. Joan of Arc,
you were burned at the stake as a heretic
by the church itself
for refusing to betray
the voice of God in you.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of the visionaries
in church and society
and give us the courage
to share their risk.

St. Basil the Great,
doctor of the church,
you challenged the wealthy
to redistribute their wealth to the poor.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of those who are paid unjust wages
and give us the courage
to proclaim that cause.

Shiphrah and Puah,
you saved the life of the child Moses
by breaking the law of the land.
Touch our conscience
on the subject of unjust laws
and give us the courage to protest them.

St. Stanislaus, Bishop of Krakow,
you denounced the abuses of the king.
Touch our conscience
with an awareness of civil abuse
and give us the courage to confront it.

St. John the Baptist,
you were beheaded
for speaking truth to power.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of immoral public policy
and give us the courage to speak our truth.

St. Teresa of Avila,
doctor of the church,
you were under suspicion by the Spanish Inquisition
for developing a new form of spirituality.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of those who break new paths
and give us the courage always
to embrace new ways
for the good of the world.

St. Hildegard of Bingen,
Benedictine abbess,
you claimed your own authority
despite ecclesiastical interdict.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of the forgotten
and give us the courage
to assert the rights of those
abandoned by the system.

St. Hugh,
Bishop of Lincoln, England,
you practiced tax evasion
in an attempt to deny the king money
to launch a crusade.
Touch our conscience
about the national budget
and give us the courage to critique it publicly.

Holy Pope John XXIII,
you opened the church to the modern world.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of new ideas,
in support of new understandings,
and give us the courage to risk them.

Holy Mohandas Gandhi,
you freed India from English jurisdiction
through nonviolent resistance.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of the oppressed of the world
and give us the courage to resist oppression
in ways that are not themselves oppressive.

Holy Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz,
you were criticized for writing
the first theological work by a woman.
Touch our conscience
in regard to the role of women
in church and societies,
and give us the courage to promote their rights.

Holy Mary Ward,
founder of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
you were arrested by Rome and declared heretic
for founding a women’s religious order
unenclosed and free of episcopal control.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of the full authority of women
and give us the courage to live it.

Holy Maura Clarke
and Companions,
you were brutally murdered in El Salvador
for supporting refugee priests, people and catechists
in their struggle against an oppressive government.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of the oppressed in both state and church,
and give us the courage to join them
in the struggle.

Holy Stephen Biko,
you devoted yourself to raising consciousness
in apartheid South Africa
and died for the doing of it.
Touch our conscience on behalf of hard truths
and give us the courage to pursue them
whatever the cost to ourselves.

Holy Cesar Chavez,
farmworker and organizer,
you organized migrant workers
to struggle for just wages
through boycotts and civil disobedience.
Touch our conscience
on behalf of workers’ rights
and give us the courage to strive for them.

Holy John Howard Griffin,
author, you made yourself black
in order to expose the horrors of racism.
Touch our conscience on behalf of the marginalized
and give us the courage to embrace their cause.

Holy Philip Berrigan,
you spent half a lifetime
in prison to protest the nuclear policies
of the United States.
Touch our conscience as citizens of the globe
and give us the courage to give our lives
to making life better, safer, more human
for the rest of humankind.

Finally, Great God,
give us the kind of faith in you
that was the mainstay of those before us
who followed you from
Galilee to Jerusalem doing good,
raising the dead to life
and singing alleluia all the way.

God of Conscience,
God of Courage
give us whatever grace we need
to work for the coming
of the reign of God
now, here and always.
Amen.

— Joan Chittister, OSB