Thursday, 12 October 2017

Novena for the Fallen Through ~ our eighth prayer for the people of Grenfell


Here is the eighth of our Novenas for the Fallen Through, which for this month are devoted to Brigid and to seeking justice and healing for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. If you would like to read more about this work please pop and have a look here.

Today we weave a prayer calling for justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, whether dead or living.


Brigid is often credited with having brought the Brehon Law to Ireland. The foundations of this indigenous legal system are believed to have been laid down during the Bronze Age (2,300 to 900 BCE) and to have survived until finally being abolished in the 17th Century. During this time these customs and agreements governed everyday life and gave protection to the environment, the poor, the marginalised, to women, and to many others who in our society we have become accustomed to having very little power. Indeed, Irish women were able to marry whomever they chose. In County Meath, right up until the 1920s, couples could marry by simply walking towards one another on February 1st, St Brigid’s feast day. If the marriage failed they could divorce by walking away from one another on her feast day the following year. These laws were made by the people and no changes could be made without their consent. To uphold them was a matter of honour and they pervaded every action.

The Brehon Law differed from the system of law that we would now recognise as it was developed without influence from Rome, and transgression was considered the responsibility of the tribe, rather than an individual. It was not individual, or male, centred and gave equal power to women. Indeed, the Brigh Brigaid was a female who ‘Brehon’; Brehon being an Anglicisation of ‘Breitheamh’, a ‘Scholar of Law’. These scholars were arbitrators and legal advisers to whoever might be making a final judgment, whether a ruler or a bishop. It is notable that St Brigid is often credited as being a peacemaker who intervened in disputes. An icon in the parish church in Kildare depicts her with her foot on a sword; she challenges us to find peaceful answers to our disagreements, but also to find answers which are fair, ans which do not require songs such as this 17th century protest song against English enclosure to be written...

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from off the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.


The community of the Lancaster West Estate, where Grenfell Tower stands, as well as many others, have expressed much concern that the victims of the Grenfell fire will never see justice done, especially as some believe that the Government’s Austerity programme and underfunding of local authorities is also on trial. There are also fears that it will take as many years as did the inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster (28 so far!). Theresa May announced a Public Inquiry into the fire on 22nd June 2017, 8 days after it took place. A week later she said that this would be headed by retired judge, Sir Martin Moore-Bick. Almost immediately that the announcement was made the community, and many others, demanded a public inquest, whose terms of reference would not be seen to be controlled by the Government. The appointment of Moore-Bick was also questioned as he was said to “lack credibility” with the victims, having previously made a judgment allowing a local resident to be housed 50 miles away without explanation. Residents have also criticised the lack of diversity of the inquiry panel, saying that it does not represent the community. The Inquiry opened on 14thSeptember 2017.

It is hard to imagine, due to the scale of the Grenfell fire and the depth of feeling it has engendered, that any inquiry would be trusted completely and this one has only just begun, but certainly it has so far done little to reassure those who believe that there will be no justice for the people of Grenfell.

Novena for the Fallen Through ~

Justice, healing, and wholeness for the people of Grenfell, and for us all.

This prayer begins with Fire.

Blessed Brigid,
Holy Woman,
Saint and Goddess,
Mother of Fire.

Brigid of the mantles,
Brigid of the peat heap,
Brigid of the twining hair,
Mary of the Gaels.

We ask for the fire of justice to burn
in the hearts of us all.
For it to be a light that we carry,
bright and inextinguishable, your perpetual flame.

We ask for justice to be a fire
that fuels but does not burn,
a good fire that we can warm our hearts around
when the world feels cold.
We ask for justice to be available to all,
not just to the rich and the powerful.
We ask for it to be a justice rooted in the land
and in the common good, for the people of the commons,
and for the stranger to our shore,
for the marginalised and the poor,
equally and without question.

Blessed Brigid,
Holy Woman,
Saint and Goddess,
Mother of Fire.

Brigid of the mantles,
Brigid of the peat heap,
Brigid of the twining hair,
Mary of the Gaels.

We thank you for teaching us what justice can mean,
for holding the flame of truth and honesty in one hand,
and the flame of dawn, of a new day
where wounds are healed and justice sings, in the other.

We ask to be the holders of your twin flames,
to demand justice, to sing for truth,
for the people of Grenfell and for all who cry out
and are unheard, or silenced, or dismissed, or demonised.

Help us to listen to those who have been treated unjustly,
learning what is truly wanted and needed, not to decide for them,
knowing that justice is not a mirror
in which to admire our own goodness,
or soothe our own guilt, but a call for radical grace
and dignity for all.

And we ask to be shown the ways in which we
collude with injustice, both unknowingly and knowingly.
We ask for change in ourselves and, through us,
in he society around us.
We ask for the strength and the courage
to continue to sing your justice song.

Blessed Brigid,
Holy Woman,
Saint and Goddess,
Mother of Fire.

Brigid of the mantles,
Brigid of the peat heap,
Brigid of the twining hair,
Mary of the Gaels.

We ask that you watch over the Grenfell Fire Inquiry;
that you give strength to the survivors and the families of the dead,
that you guide, hold, and protect those who give and gather evidence,
and those who make and hear the final report,
that their words and actions should be filled with the love of you,
and not with any agenda of the powerful.

Noble person,
Dangerous oath, (for false swearers)
Far-rising flame.

Healer, poet, brehon,
Fostermother of the Gael,
supporter of strangers,
Wisdom’s spark. (1)

Help us to see the truth, or otherwise, of the Inquiry as it continues,
to cool rage into wise vision,
to turn fury into passion for change,
to know what actions we must take,
until we see justice done,
and hear the survivors of Grenfell,
and the families of the missing and the dead,
say that it is so.

We ask this in memory of Mohammed Neda, Ali Yawar Jafari,
Karen Bernard, Lucas James, Rania Ibrahim and her daughters,
Fathia and Hania, Stefan Anthony Mills, Ligaya Moore.

We ask this in memory of Zainab Dean and her son, Jeremiah,
Khadija Saye and her mother, Mary Mendy, Gary Maunders,
Mohammad Alhajali, Hesham Rahman, Tony Disson, Sheila Smith.

We ask this in memory of Mariem Elgwahry and her mother, Suhar,
Jessica Urbano Ramirez, Deborah Lamprell, Steve Power,
Dennis Murphy, Amal Ahmedin and Amaya Tuccu, Isaac Paulos.

We ask this in memory of Marco Gottardi, and Gloria Trevisan,
Mohammed Nurdu, Fouzia el-Wahabi, her husband, Abdul Aziz,
Nur Huda and Mehdi, Yasin.

We ask this in memory of Nadia Loureda, Maria Del Pilar Burton,
Berkti Haftom and her son, Biruk, Nura Jamal, her husband, Hashim,
their children, Yahya, Firdaws, Yaqub, Kamru Miah.

We ask this in memory of Fatima Afrasehabi, her sister, Sakina,
Nadia Choucair, her husband, Baseem Choukair,
their children, Mierna, Fatima, Zainab,
their grandmother, Sirria, Raymond Bernard.

We ask this in memory of Majorie Vital and her son, Ernie,
Joseph Daniels, Logan Gomes, Khadija Khalloufi, Abdeslam Sebbar,
Fathia Ahmed and her son, Abufars Ibrahim. Of Omar Belkadi,
Farah Hamdan, Malak, Leena, and Tamzin who lived.
Of Mohamednur Tuccu, Husna and Rebaya Begum,
Mohammed Hanif, Mohammed Hamid, Vincent Chiejina, Hamid Kani,
a ‘woman’ unnamed, all the unnamed, the disappeared.

Saint Brigid, you were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was conflict.
You brought light in the darkness.
You brought hope to the downcast.
May the mantle of your peace
cover those who are troubled and anxious,
and may peace be firmly rooted
in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all the the Holy One has made.
Brigid, you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us.
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.
May we grow each day into a greater wholeness in mind, body, and spirit. (2)
And may we continue to call for justice until justice is done.

This prayer ends with Fire. Let it be the Fire of Justice.

For this we pray.

Aho mitake oyasin, amen, blessed be. Inshallah.



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