This past Sunday, September 1, during his Angelus Address, Pope Francis called upon Catholics around the world to observe a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria on Saturday, September 7.
As Pope Francis made it clear on Sunday, and has continued to make it clear throughout this week in his addresses and on Twitter, the conflict in Syria is hurting him deeply and moving him to call fervently for peace:
“…There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming. I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me… I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.” –Pope Francis, Angelus, September 1, 2013
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has joined with Pope Francis in encouraging Catholics to pray and fast for the situation in Syria. Cardinal Dolan of New York, the president of the USCCB, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, said in a joint statement on Tuesday:
“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 September 7 for a peaceful end to the conflict in Syria and to violent conflicts everywhere. Pope Francis has exhorted ‘the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace, … a peace based on dialogue and negotiation, for the good of the entire Syrian people.'”
In the Diocese of Austin, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez has issued a message to the Diocese, encouraging the participation of the people in the Diocese of Austin, “…to respond to this call to prayer and fasting in whatever way is possible for them.” He goes on to provide and courage the use of the Prayer for the People of Syria from the USCCB, provide ideas on how to fast and how to help provide material assistance to Syrian refugees in neighboring countries by making direct donations to Catholic Relief Services.
And lastly, at ACNM, we also encourage and call all in our community of audience and contributors to action. Pray, fast, tweet, share on Facebook and more about the day of prayer and fasting on FB. Be a part of Pope Francis’ call to prayer and fasting this Saturday, September 7. For we know Christ said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Can you imagine how joining millions of Catholics and people of faith together in prayer and fasting can bring Christ into the midst of the situation in Syria and affect those making decisions concerning military action, peace, aid and more?
Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us and for the people of Syria!
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A Prayer for the People of Syria
(from the USCCB)
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,