"May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land." Pope Francis.
During his Angelus message on Sunday, Pope Francis asked us to join him in prayer and fasting for Syria and other troubled places in the world.
Today, Wednesday, our Holy Father renewed the invitation to all people of good will, regardless of religious tradition, to take part in the world wide fast and vigil of prayer and penance for peace on September 7 - the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, Queen of Peace.
He said, "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.
“May the chorus of prayers from our lips drown out the cacophony from the drums of war.
"A culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue [...] is the only way to peace." (Pope Francis, Wednesday September 4)
The Middle East has always been and continues to be a complicated issue for us in the West. We don’t really understand their culture or their politics, and the extremists among them cannot be reasoned with in the way we would wish to be able to. It would be so very easy to either wipe our hands of them, leaving individual countries to sort themselves out, or at the other extreme, attempt to pummel them into good behaviour with our military might.
However, with a woman’s heart, we know that if we approach this on a personal level, seeing the people involved, the men, women, and children affected, then peace, not might, is the only option.
How can we affect peace when we face tyrants and radicals and zealots? Our Holy Father has shown us the way: pray. Offer sacrifice. Beseech God with meekness and trust.
We know that not every person involved is going to be reasonable - or even sane. So we can add them to our prayer intentions:
Dear Lord, reach through any crack in the anger and hatred of those involved, militants and decision makers, to change their hearts. Convert them to love and compassion. Open their eyes as You once did with Paul. In Your mercy, shower your love on these people. Amen.
Our own nation must somehow be brought to understand that sometimes the right show of strength is actually not through brute force, a barrage of weapons, a shower of money, but rather in control and conviction. We must not lose sight of humanity, of the individual.
This is what we do, ladies. This is our area of expertise. Our maternity, whether we have children or not, whether we get soft-hearted around babies or not, means we "turn especially to the helpless, to incline lovingly and helpfully toward everything on earth that is small and weak." ('Timeless woman, Gertrud von le Fort)
Let us unite ourselves to the Holy Father and the whole Church this Saturday. Let us put the full force of our feminine care and compassion, our solicitude, our desire for resolution and peace, at the service of God through our prayer and fasting.
For this purpose we were created women. Let us offer our gifts back to God and watch what He will do.
*Check with your Diocese or your parish to find out if a prayer vigil has been organized for Saturday. Or, perhaps you can offer a family rosary in unity with the Church for the intention of peace. Do you know other families – and don’t forget the singletons around you! – that might like to join with yours in prayer? Keep it simple and beautiful, a simple holy hour with prayer, offering intentions, lighting candles, singing, and silence followed by a simple meal shared together. Let’s be united, and encourage each other!