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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith Breakfast

Fr. Donald Senior, C.P.'s Benediction

January 13, 2012

As newly elected president of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, CTU president Fr. Donald Senior, C.P.,  gave the benediction at Chicago’s annual interfaith prayer breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.  More than a thousand people gathered to honor his life and legacy, including Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Senator Dick Durbin, and Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel.

To follow is the Benediction offered by Fr. Senior:


Good morning, dear friends.  As we begin this interfaith celebration, a sign of  Chicago’s bountiful diversity and generous spirit, let us turn to God in prayer.

Good and gracious God, we ask an abundant portion of your blessing this morning as we gather to celebrate the memory of your great prophet and drum major for justice, Martin Luther King, Jr.  

We remember with gratitude his deep religious spirit, his enduring faith, his eloquent and inspiring words, his commitment to the cause of justice for all, his rejection of violence and his untiring quest for peace, his dream of the beloved community, his hope that our great nation would be true to its best self and become a nation brimming with justice from sea to shining sea.

We remember with pride that this great son of the south walked our streets, here in Chicago, in the quest for justice.  We remember with sadness and shame that he also suffered fierce opposition here for the sake of that cause, and we remember with gratitude that he did not flinch or grow weary or retaliate when faced with the cold stare of hatred and prejudice.

We are a mixed bunch here today, O Lord.  We are rooted in our diverse religious traditions and draw inspiration from them—the great history of Israel, the heritage of Jesus, the dynamic spirit of the Prophet, and the manifold religious traditions of the world that bring depth and beauty to our community.  

You made Martin a master of your Word, O Lord, able to draw from the wellspring of his great heritage and able to strum the words of Scripture as if on a golden harp, inspiring us all to dare dreams we had never dreamed before. 

And so in remembering him and his biblical eloquence, we ask that you bless all of us and enable  us to do our part for justice—our Mayor Rahm Emanuel and all of the public servants who lead this great city; the business leaders and laborers who strive to make this a city that works; the religious leaders who have been called to shepherd your people and lead them to you; and all of the citizens who have converged from so many countries, and cultures and races to forge this broad shouldered place.

Lord, we earnestly pray to you in these challenging times:

Do not abandon us but rather walk with us in the quiet of the evening as you did with your first children in Eden’s garden.  

Make us bold and determined in leading your people through troubled waters to a place of justice and peace, as you did your servants Moses and Aaron and Joshua.

Inspire us to build a city of peace as you did with your servant David.  

Give us fierce courage even in the face of overwhelming adversity as you did for Deborah on the plains of Megiddo.  

Unleash our tongues for eloquence if we should hesitate and stammer as you did for Jeremiah.   

Purify our lips with the burning coal of your zeal as you did for Isaiah so we may speak only the truth.

In moments of darkness hear our laments with an understanding heart as you did the cry of the Psalmist.  

Endow us with a healing touch and a forgiving word as you did with Jesus the Christ.  

Give us unfaltering commitment to your divine will, as you did for your prophet Muhammed.

Finally, Lord.  Forgive us our sins of injustice and indifference.  Heal our timidity and our cowardice.  In the strength of our gathering on this day of remembrance, help us to live courageously as your son and servant Martin Luther King, Jr. did. We close our prayer with his words:

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery."

Kindly lead us there, Good and Gracious God.  Amen