As has been reported widely, Pope Francis has called Catholics and all people of good will to pray and fast this coming Saturday 7 September 2013 for peace in Syria (news.va, and here).

This coming Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely, and even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brethren, to the brethren of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own. I especially urge the Roman faithful and pilgrims to participate in the prayer vigil here in St. Peter’s Square at 19.00, in order to ask the Lord for the great gift of peace. May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!  (Pope Francis)

Archbishop Mark Coleridge wrote to the clergy of the Brisbane archdiocese yesterday giving directions about how we might fulfil the Holy Father’s request.  Archbishop Coleridge wrote:

The Holy Father has asked the universal Church to join him in a time of prayer and fasting, imploring God for the gift of peace in Syria.  He has proposed as the Day of Prayer and Fasting Saturday, 7 September, which in this country however has a number of complications.  I would ask that special prayers of intercession for peace in Syria be made at all Masses on this Sunday and that in the Archdiocese of Brisbane we make the week of 8-15 September a time of special prayer for Syria, with a day of fasting on Friday, 13 September.  Let us beseech God with one heart and voice to do what human beings cannot do  (Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Brisbane).

In Brisbane (and for everyone else in our time-zone), Sunday morning 4am to 9am will coincide with Pope Francis’ Prayer Vigil at Saint Peter’s with the faithful of the diocese of Rome.  Many of us will be at Mass during that time (or very close to), so we can actively unite our prayers in a special way with the Holy Father during that time.   Following the Archbishop’s direction, we will then continue praying for Syria in a heightened way all through the coming week, and he asks us to observe a day of fasting next Friday, 13 September.

Of course, all of us are free to pray and fast any time we choose, and this is a good thing to do, not just when asked to do so!

mary help of christiansLet 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!  (Pope Francis)