During yesterday’s Sunday Angelus (1 September 2013) Pope Francis invited Catholics everywhere – and also all Christians and all women and men of good will – to join him in a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, where civil war has left thousands dead. We are invited to join with him this coming Saturday, September 7, the vigil of the Feast of the Birth of Mary, the Mother of God.
He asked Catholics everywhere to gather in their various parish churches to participate with him as he prays in Rome. He will be praying in St Peter’s Square from 6pm – 11pm on Saturday evening.
Details on what the three parishes confided to the SMA (Blackrock Road and Wilton [Cork] and Walthamstow [London]) are doing to respond to the Pope’s appeal are on their particular websites. They are also given at the end of this article.
‘Prayer’ and ‘fasting’ are two important elements in Catholic spirituality. We are being invited to draw closer to God by withdrawing from the things of this world, entering into the silence of prayer to escape the noise and distraction of this life, abstaining from food to recognize the fragility and dependency of man’s existence
Read the Pope’s statement here.
While he condemns the use of chemical weapons – “With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons”, he is also equally concerned about the actions of other world leaders, both on the pro / anti Assad side. Pope Francis is clear that the resolution of disputes by violence, by war, inevitably brings about “collateral damage” and great suffering.
Pope Francis wishes to be a peace-maker, and to help others find possible ways to make peace.
And he is willing to make this dramatic gesture of fasting and praying for a day, in order to seek God’s assistance in this very dangerous and not only potentially but already tragic situation. The Pope directly asks every local church to “gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.
Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”
Why not arrange for a Vigil in your local church to coincide with this call of the Pope? Or ask that your Church be kept open during the same time as Pope Francis is in St Peter’s Square? Check out your parish website for details…
St Joseph’s SMA Parish Wilton: Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday evening, beginning immediately after the 6pm Vigil Mass and ending before the 7.30pm Vigil Mass.
Special prayers will be offered during the Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses this weekend to unite ourselves in prayer with the Holy Father for peace, not only in Syria, but throughout the world.
If you are unable to be with us at this special time please drop into the Church sometime during Saturday to spend a few moments in prayer for peace.
Our Lady & St Patrick’s Walthamstow London: Special prayers during the Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses this weekend to unite ourselves in prayer with the Holy Father for peace, not only in Syria, but throughout the world.