The United States expressed its solidarity for the tragedy in Haiti over the weekend as the faithful across the nation convened for special ecumenical services and prayer gatherings.
At a service at First Baptist Church in Randolph, Mass., prayers were offered in Hebrew, English and Creole for the victims of the Jan. 12 quake, which leveled Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince and affected nearly 3 million in the Caribbean nation.
"What we have in common is our humanity," Father Ronald Coyne of St. Mary's said, according to local sources.
"We need to remain people of hope despite the devastation in Haiti."
Clergy from the Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches presided over a service held at the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday where Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivered the sermon.
"God does not cause suffering or punish people with it, but God is present and known more intimately in the midst of suffering. Above all, we become more human through our broken hearts," Schori said in her homily.
"Our hearts are broken, as we sit transfixed before images of devastation and ruin, the bodies of children and elders piled in the streets, buildings crushed to dust, pleading arms and voices raised to heaven."
In those images, Schori said, "our common humanity is staring us in the face, and we have chosen to meet the gaze of Haiti."
"We are changed forever, if we will only remember the terror of that gaze. Remember and let yourself be shaken."
The bishop also said that there are "immense seeds of hope in the response to this disaster," adding that "hope abounds, but it must be answered."
"Surround Haiti and her people with your loving embrace that they may be supported by the world in the work of rescue and recovery; comforted as they grieve; strengthened as they bury their dead; healed as they tend their wounds; restored in faith and the hope of things unseen; and transformed through newness of life," the congregation prayed together.