February 22 will remain a memorial day for the city of Christchurch. Four years ago today, our city was devastated by earthquake. 185 people died tragically on the day, and in the 36 months since many others have suffered and died as a result of the ongoing trauma. Many people still await insurance settlements. While there are signs of great hope and inspiring in our city, we still suffer.
I realise when choosing an image for this reflection that my image of our Christchurch diocese is no longer the previously iconic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, reduced to ruins in the quakes, but the image of thousands of the people of the diocese gathered to celebrate Mass with the bishop on the feast of Christ the King 2013.
One year after the earthquake Bishop Barry Jones, the Catholic bishop of Christchurch, led those gathered for the Hagley Park memorial service in this prayer. Let’s continue to pray it, that all those affected may grow in understanding of the love by which they have been created.
O God whose mercies are without number,
and whose treasure and goodness is infinite,
graciously increase the faith of your people
that all may grasp and rightly understand
by whose love they have been created.
Your Son Jesus has taught us
to open our hearts to you in sincere prayer,
today after [three years],
we commend to your love and mercy
all those whose lives have been changed forever
by the earthquake of 22 February 2011.
We commend to your mercy
those who lost their lives in that terrible time.
We remember too,
those who were evacuated in great stress
from city rest homes
and who have since departed this life
Grieving and distraught families, friends and workmates
entered thereby into a time of sadness,
loneliness and heartbreak.
Have mercy on them all O God.
We commend also to you those living survivors
who bear wounds and scars and injuries
both visible and invisible
from the earthquakes which have continued to oppress us.
May their trust and confidence in you never fail,
but rather grow to be strong and life-giving
for themselves and for those close to them.
Your Son Jesus
showed himself to be the physician of souls.
May those burdened by fear, anxiety,
worry and hopelessness,
know your healing hand.
Many of our people Lord carry painful memories
of building and structures falling,
and persons being crushed and trapped.
Have mercy on them and grant them peace.
We pray in Jesus’ name