With encouragement from Pope Francis, the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach will join the Holy Father and Catholics around the U.S. and world this weekend in a Day of Fasting and Prayers for Peace in Syria, the Middle East and the World. Pope Francis has called upon the world’s Catholics to fast and pray on Saturday, September 7.
On Saturday in Rome, Pope Francis will lead a prayer vigil at St. Peter’s Square from 7 p.m. until Midnight (Rome time) for the specific intention of a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In the Diocese of Palm Beach, that vigil will take place between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. (EST), which coincides with many parish functions, including the Saturday Vigil Masses. Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of Palm Beach, is asking the faithful of the diocese to join together on Saturday in a spirit of prayer and solidarity with Catholics and men and women of good will around the world.
In a statement released and posted on the diocese’s website, Bishop Barbarito stated:
“Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has asked that we all join in a special day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the world this Saturday, September 7, the vigil of the Birth of Mary, who is the Queen of Peace. We, in the Diocese of Palm Beach, join with the Pope and all people throughout the world in this special day of prayer. The vigil Masses on Saturday evening will be a natural and excellent opportunity to be united in this prayer throughout every parish in our Diocese. At the time the vigil Masses are taking place here, the Pope will be concluding a special prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square to which he has invited all people. I especially invite the families of our Diocese to pray the Rosary for the intention of people on Saturday. The Pope has often affirmed the beauty and power of the Rosary as a prayer essential to our lives as Catholics.
As we join in this special day of prayer, with the terrible images from recent days burned into our hearts and minds, we heed the words of Pope Francis, “Let 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 find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day in building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is also encouraging support of the fasting and prayer vigil on Saturday. The full statement can be found on the USCCB’s website (www.usccb.org) and on the diocese’s website (www.diocesepb.org).
Speaking to his Angelus audience this past Sunday on September 1, Pope Francis announced his call for peace throughout the world, particularly in conflict-ridden Syria.
“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,” stated Pope Francis.
Pope Francis extended his invitation to participate in Saturday’s observance to “fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”
A links to Pope Francis’ full Angelus speech is on the diocese’s website.
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USCCB & Catholic Relief Services Prayer:
A Prayer For The People Of Syria
Almighty eternal God, source of all compassion,
the promise of your mercy and saving help fills our hearts with hope.
Hear the cries of the people of Syria;
bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
and comfort to those mourning the dead.
Empower and encourage Syria’s neighbors
in their care and welcome for refugees.
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and strengthen the resolve of those committed to peace.
O God of hope and Father of mercy,
your Holy Spirit inspires us to look beyond ourselves and our own needs.
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 fill us with 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,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
For the people of Syria, that God may strengthen the resolve of leaders to end
the fighting and choose a future of peace.
We pray to the Lord…
[This prayer is adapted from Catholics Confront Global Poverty. . . , a collaborative effort of USCCB and Catholic Relief Services.]