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Sunday’s religious services focus on remembrance, faith

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On Sunday, the scriptures and sacred texts quoted in religious services varied greatly, but the messages were the same: Remember those who mourn, look to the deity and God bless America.

Many felt drawn to larger venues such as the Cathedral of the Madeleine and the "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast from Temple Square where there was a heightened sense of community and import.

At the cathedral, it was standing room-only for Sunday Mass at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The overflow reached the street for Saturday's Mass. The Very Rev. Joseph M. Mayo, rector of the cathedral, delivered the Sunday homily.

"I always try to stay with the readings of the day," he said. The reading for Sunday was the parable of the prodigal son, which, the Rev. Mayo says, "Speaks to the mercy and forgiveness of the Father, that God is a compassionate shepherd."

Meanwhile, a few blocks away, Lloyd Newell delivered the Spoken Word portion of the weekly Tabernacle Choir broadcast.

"Lady Liberty may be surrounded by ashes," Newell said, "but she still stands. Her light shines in the hearts of Americans who rally to the aid of those who suffer." The Tabernacle Choir stirred those gathered with patriotic and religious anthems.

In smaller services around Utah, similar themes were sounded. At the Newman Center near the University of Utah campus, a standing-room crowd heard the Rev. Roberto Reyes use the phrase "Can we find it in our hearts to forgive?" four times during his remarks. As parishioners wept, the Rev. Reyes said, "This is the time to rebuild not just our towers and fortresses, but our faith."

In a well-attended "Service of Prayer for Hope and Peace" at the First Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, the congregation sang "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," "O Lord, Hear My Prayer" and repeated the litany, "O Lord, deliver us." Methodist churches in Park City and the Millcreek area reported large numbers, fervent singing and touching prayers.

The congregation of Wasatch Presbyterian was invited Friday to join its pastor at a local mosque.

A candlelight vigil on the steps of the Provo Courthouse was especially memorable.

In special letters sent to the homes of bishops in the United States, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged that sacrament meetings Sunday be turned into memorials focusing on the mission of Jesus Christ. And members of the LDS faith turned out in large numbers to participate.

At the Farmington Oakridge 5th Ward, a choir was hurriedly assembled Saturday to sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee." At the Imperial 1st Ward in Salt Lake City a chorus of teenage girls sang "The Star Spangled Banner." Music played a major role in most LDS services and prepared talks were scuttled to accommodate the new theme. Wards reported that texts for rewritten talks ranged from Psalm 23 and John 1:1 ("In the beginning was the Word") to the Emma Lazars poem on the base of the Stature of Liberty.

Bishop Frank Kay Richards of the Butler 18th Ward summed up the tenor of many services. "No matter how far down into the depths of sorrow, depression and despair they think they've buried us, we will rise again."

Or, as one ward member from Kaysville put it, "America has been brought to its knees, brought to its knees in prayer."

E-MAIL: jerjohn@desnews.com