As many of you may have heard, during the Angelus this past Sunday, Pope Francis declared this coming Saturday, Sept. 7, as a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, and throughout the Middle East. It is a special challenge to us during this Year of Faith to believe that Jesus Christ has sacrificed himself for our reconciliation with God and with one another.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has joined Pope Francis in asking the faithful to join in prayer and fasting. Last Friday, the bishops reaffirmed an earlier message of the Holy Father “that the path of dialogue and negotiation between all components of Syrian society, with the support of the international community, is the only option to put an end to the conflict.”
In a statement on behalf of the USCCB, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, “As our nation’s leaders contemplate military action, it is particularly appropriate and urgent that we in the United States embrace the Holy Father’s call to pray and fast on Sept. 7 for a peaceful end to the conflict in Syria and to violent conflicts everywhere.”
Prayer therefore is our strength and our shield as we ask the Lord to assist all those who are innocent victims of war and violence and to convert the hearts of those who seek violence and war as a way to bring about their political or ideological agendas. Yes, it is not the normal approach, but even Simeon in the Temple said that He and therefore we would be signs of contradiction.
I am asking everyone to join Pope Francis and the universal Church in this. I encourage you to pray the rosary as a community or in the family. It would also be appropriate to make time for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday. Reciting the following prayer for peace is recommended:
Prayer for Peace in Syria
God of Compassion,
Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
Strengthen Syria’s neighbors in their care and welcome for refugees,
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
And protect those committed to peace.
God of Hope,
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,
I will celebrate the 5:30 Mass on Saturday in the Cathedral with an hour of adoration and prayer following the Mass. Our solidarity as men and women of faith with the people of Syria and the Middle East is very critical at this time. Let us be in solidarity with our universal Church in one voice for Peace.