Armistice Day interfaith “Hope for Peace” prayers offered at Washington National Cathedral

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Washington, D.C.: One hundred years ago, on November 11, 1918, the horrific guns of August were finally silenced at precisely 11:00 AM Paris time with the implementation of a long-implored armistice. More than forty million men, women, and children were casualties of World War I — including some 117,700 Americans who were amongst the 9-11 million deaths of military personnel.

Recalling the faith which sustained that war-weary world, the United States World War I Centennial Commission and the Washington National Cathedral hosted a Sacred Service of hope and remembrance on Sunday as part of the World War I Armistice Centennial. The moving interfaith celebration included three calls to worship by clerics of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths; patriotic songs and a posting of the colors; poetry selections and other stories from the Great War; scripture readings from the Psalms, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) and the Book of Isaiah; a prayer for the departed; the playing of Taps; and congregational singing of familiar hymns.

An interfaith Armistice Day service, hosted by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, was held at the Washington National Cathedral. (Anthony C. Hayes)

The service also included a touching tribute simply called the Bells of Peace: a moment of silence as the Cathedral’s bourbon bell tolled 21 times – the highest military honor accorded to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

The ecumenical aspect of the service offered a truly fitting testimonial to the men and women from all faith walks who served their respective countries during World War I. Besides the mostly Christian make-up of the main combatants of the Great War, soldiers and sailors from Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Sikh, Native American, and other religious worldviews all found themselves engaged in the fighting in the trenches, in the air, and on the high seas.

Beseeching help and guidance from The Divine with thoughts and prayers of “Hope for Peace Among Nations & Peoples” were Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) who read an excerpt from Woodrow Wilson’s Presidential Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day, 1918; Dr. Richa Agarwala of the Chinmaya Washington Regional Center; William Aiken, President of the Interfaith Conference of Metro Washington Soka Gakkai International Buddist Community; and Harvey Pratt, Cheyenne/Arapoho Tribes.  Fazia Dean, Outreach Coordinator of Dar Al-Hijarah Islamic Center; Susan Sloan, Assistant Regional Director of AJC Washington; Cannon Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr., of the Washington National Cathedral; and an unnamed Chaplin of the D.C. National Guard concluded the ecumenical entreaties.

The Los Angeles Post-Examiner joins with all who worshiped at the Washington National Cathedral yesterday in remembering those who perished in World War I – and in the heartfelt hope expressed  by the aforementioned individuals in the following prayers.

Blessed are the peacemakers
For they will be called children of God. (Matt 5:9)

Presidential Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day, 1918

This year we have special and moving cause to be grateful and to rejoice. God has, in His good pleasure, given us peace. It has not come as a mere cessation of arms, a mere relief from the strain and tragedy of war. It has come as a great triumph of right. Complete victory has brought us, not peace alone, but the confident promise of a new day as well in which justice shall replace force and jealous intrigue among the nations.

Hindu Prayer for Peace

Indian soldiers from several faith walks served in the British Army.

O God, lead us from the unreal to the Real.
O God, lead us from darkness to light.
O God, lead us from death to immortality.
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti (Peace, peace, peace) unto all.
O Lord God Almighty, may there be peace in celestial regions.
May there be peace on earth.
May the waters be appeasing, may herbs be wholesome,
and may trees and plants bring peace to all.
May all beneficent beings bring peace to us.
May all things be a source of peace to us.
And may your peace itself, bestow peace on all,
And may that peace come to me also.

Buddhist Prayer for Peace

May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind
quickly be freed from their illnesses.
May those frightened, cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free.
May the powerless find power, and may people think of befriending one another.
May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wildernesses –
the children, the aged, the unprotected – be guarded by beneficent celestials.
May our brothers and sisters, human and non-human beings,
born in every form sharing in the web of life be safe, be happy and be free.
May true peace of the heart bring peace among all peoples of the world.
May all beings everywhere find joy and blessings.
May I and all beings awaken together.

Some 10-13 thousand Native Americans served during WWI.

Native American Prayer for Peace

O Great Spirit of our Ancestors, I raise my pipe to you,
To your messengers the four winds,
And to Mother Earth who provides for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children
To love, to respect, and to be kind to each other
So that they may grow with the peace of mind.
Let us learn to share all good things
That you provide for us on this earth

Muslim Prayer for Peace

In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful,
Praise to the Lord of the Universe who has created us
And made us into tribes and nations;
That we may know each other,
Not that we may despise each other.
If the enemy inclines toward peace,
Do you also incline toward peace.
And trust God, for the Lord is the one that hears and knows all things.
And the servants of God,
most gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility,
And when we address them, we say ‘PEACE.’

Jewish Prayer for Peace

Posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. William Shemin. “…Sgt. Shemin served at a time when the contributions of Jewish Americans in uniform were too often overlooked,” said former president Barak Obama.

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
that we may walk the paths of the Most High.
And we shall beat our swords into plowshares,
And our spears into pruning hooks.
Nations shall not life up sword towards nation –
Neither shall they learn war anymore.
And none shall be afraid.
For the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.

Christian Prayer for Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

Prayer for Peace for All Humanity

Eternal God, Creator of all humankind, source of light and life, bless the peoples of the earth with a sense of kinship, that our hearts may be turned to one another. Help us to learn those principles upon which a lasting peace may be built. Guide with your just and gentle wisdom all who take counsel for the nations of the world, that all people may spend their days in security, freedom, and peace. We pray in your holy name. Amen.

WWI wreath at tomb of Woodrow Wilson. Armistice Day Nov. 11, 2018 at Washington National Cathedral. (Anthony C. Hayes.
A wreath was placed at the tomb of President Woodrow Wilson. (Anthony C. Hayes)