A Liturgy

for those affected by the Asian Tsunami

Click the picture to go to the Catholic relief agency for England and Wales

 | Scripture Reading | Sung Response | Sign/ Symbol and Ritual |

The world has been shocked by the immensity of the disaster which has befallen islands and coastlands in the Indian Ocean. Financial and practical support are essential but we believe that our prayer, love and concern can also help to sustain those who are suffering and those who are at the front-line of bringing relief.


Much will depend on your circumstances but a circle/ horseshoe would be good for this liturgy. Ensure that people can move around easily so that they can take part in the Sign/ Symbol and Ritual you choose to use. What to include in your setting will depend on what you choose to do.
If you are not using a Symbol or Ritual, a simple cross, a photo with a small posy of flowers and lit candle will help to create a reflective mood.

The Opening Responses offer a way into the prayer. We generally read these from where we are sitting so that the atmosphere of quiet reflection is maintained. A roving microphone is very helpful.

Although words are offered, silence has its place too - allow spaces between the responses for people to absorb the words. Similarly with the Scripture readings - take them slowly and allow people space to reflect.


There are many Readings that may be helpful - here is a selection:

     Psalm 13
     Psalm 15/16 (Preserve me God)
     Psalm 21/22 (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)
     Psalm 22/23 (The Lord is my shepherd)
     Psalm 42
     Psalm 129/130 (Out of the depths)
     Wisdom 3: 1-9
     Lamentations 3: 17-26
     Mark 15: 33-39; 16:1-6
     Luke 23: 33, 39-43
     John 5: 25-29
     Romans 8: 18-23
     1 John 3: 1-2
     Revelation 7: 9-10, 15-17
     Revelation 20: 11 - 21:1

Choose one - at most two - of the Readings. People might find them helpful to have them typed up so that, during the pauses they can re-read them and deepen their reflection.

Sung Response

Again, there are many songs that can be sung. Here is a selection - most of the songs are, hopefully, well-known.

     O God Our help in Ages Past
     Blessed Are My People
     The Lord hears the cry of the poor
     A Touching Place (Wild Goose Worship Group)
     For the healing of the nations
     The Lord's my shepherd
     When I needed a neighbour
     Whatsoever you do
     Lay your hands gently upon us
     As if you were not there (Wild Goose Worship Group)
     In times like these (available at www.textweek.com/response/in_times.htm
        We used the Columba setting of the "King of Love my Shepherd is")    

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Sign/ Symbol and Ritual

Many people find it helpful to do something - to give an outward sign of what they are feeling or are wishing they could do.

Here are some ideas to use or adapt.

bullet A collection of newspaper cuttings/ photos spread in the middle of the circle. People can either place a flower (from a basket alongside) - or light a tee-light on one that particularly draws them. It does not matter if more than one person chooses the same one.
bullet As above - but invite people to take one of the pictures or clippings away with them at the end to use as a focus for personal prayer.
bullet Have symbols of those affected: model of a fishing boat (fishermen); small towel (swimmers); coins (for those whose businesses are ruined); teddy bear (children); rice (for those who lost crops/ suffering hunger); water - perhaps dirty (those at risk from contaminated water); medication (for those needing and providing); surgical mask/ cloth (those facing the task of recovering bodies); relief agency logo (for those striving to bring aid) and so on.
During the time set aside for ritual, each could be prayed for and a candle lit by each. Keep it simple: for example: We pray for the fishermen ...  We pray for ...
bullet If access to a river/ sea is possible, place lit tee-lights in paper boats and allow them to float away - the waters acting as a link between all peoples. It would also be possible to drop a flower onto the water's surface.
bullet Alternatively, have a large container of water on which people can place floating candles or flowers.
bullet Take a square of paper/ thin card and fold corners into the middle - press the folds tightly. Allow people to hold them and to reflect on images they have seen/ words they have heard and then to place their folded paper on the water's surface - with luck, the paper will unfurl to form a simple flower.
bullet Visit one of the message boards where people are looking for friends and relatives (for example, this one at the BBC). Choose a random selection from each of the countries affected and list the names of the person being sought - perhaps also the seeker. Each person could take away a name to pray for ... this makes an unimaginably large catastrophe more personal.
bullet Write the names of the affected countries on card - if artistic, draw an outline map of it. Invite people to take one country away as a focus for prayer. It may be that people have links with the country - work-colleagues who come from there or perhaps as a holiday destination.

Whichever you choose, allow people time to gaze on the scene.

It is often useful to have background music to sustain the atmosphere. Suggestions: Jesus, remember me (Taizé); The Cloud's Veil (Liam Lawton); Agnus Dei/ Pie Jesu (many versions); Adagio for Strings (Barber)

After the Ritual, you may like to have specific Intercessions - or invite people to pray for a particular image that has caught their attention. If you have not used a Ritual, you could pass a candle in a container around the group. People can pray out loud - or simply hold the candle in silence before passing it on to their neighbour.

At the end of the liturgy, give people time to depart slowly. If anyone in the group has been touched personally by the events, ensure that there is someone who can be there to listen and comfort. Having somewhere a little apart from the main group would be helpful.

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