This week, Pope Francis has called for a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. This day of prayer and fasting will take place on Saturday, September 7. This particular graphic is courtesy of Ignatius Press, and I have been happy to see this message spread beyond the normal Catholic circles.
One of my Christian friends, in fact, shared the photo with some sentiment that “this doesn’t have to be just a Catholic thing.” She was right, in fact the transcript directly states that Pope Francis has called “each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will” to participate in whatever way that they can.
But what good will it do?
I got this question after explaining to a few friends that I was going to participate. Prayer and fasting are two of the three ancient spiritual disciplines (the third being almsgiving) designed to elevate the spirit to God in prayer.
For me, fasting leads directly into prayer. It usually beings as a superficial “wow, I’m hungry” followed by “remember why you’re doing this” and then leads to prayer for that cause. This behaves similarly to abstaining from meat on Fridays, but fasting is usually a bit more demanding. The rules for fasting and abstinence remain less rigorous than in previous decades, but I still tend to prefer the Ash Wednesday and Good Friday rules: no meat and two meals that must not add up to the same amount of food as one meal.
I believe that the world needs more prayer. The more hopeless or extreme the situation, the more prayer is needed. In this case, I echo the words of Pope Francis:
It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.
You can read the full text of Pope Francis’ Angelus address here.
Join me in fasting and praying for Syria and the rest of Pope Francis’ intentions on Saturday. Spread the word, share this post, share this graphic, and get the word out!