Pope Francis Invites Us to a Day of Prayer

Pope Francis Asks for Peace – Day of Fast and Prayer


A whole day of fasting and prayer?  What IS that anyway?  Shall we go off as they did in the Hebrew Bible, put on sack cloth and douse ourselves in ashes, then sit in the lotus position for twenty-four hours?  Well…  If you are so inclined, yes.  But since this is an exercise called for by the pontiff, reciting the Rosary in low tones aloud is probably more appropriate than ‘Ooo-uuuu-mmmm’, though that would work as well.

I am beginning tongue-and-cheek even though the idea is sound and probably what most Westerners think of when we say ‘fast and pray’.  But here are some practical thoughts for a Western day of fasting and prayer.

Let’s start with the day’s routine.  What would you normally do on a Saturday in September?  Plan on doing it anyway.  Don’t change your plans to work in the garden, mow the lawn, go to the ‘big’ game, or visit with your friends.  Keep up that routine.  In fact, keep up with the celebratory dress and let that smile of excitement come onto your face.  No one should know that you are sacrificing by looking at you.

Fasting is simple.  I did not say ‘easy’, at least for me it’s not.  I’m driven to eat!  A simple meal of toast and a glass of milk for breakfast, maybe a roll and a glass of water for lunch.  Nothing in between.  Drink plenty of water.  End the day with a normal meal at the normal time.  Those with medical conditions affecting their metabolism and glucose especially need to talk with their doctor before conducting a fast.

Yes, if you are going to ‘the’ game or going to attend a party, not drinking beer or imbibing in the other festive foods of the day is probably going to be noticed.  Just tell people who comment, “I’m fasting for peace today.” No big deal.

Pray is just as simple.  How often do we casually say “oh, my god” in the course of a day, or text OMG?  Saturday, say it with some feeling as “Oh, my God” instead, and add “…for peace in our world.”  The text could be OMG WP. How easy is that?

Prayer takes many forms and this is not an essay on prayer.  Sitting quietly, singing a song you remember from Church, saying a memorized prayer or series of prayers, stopping by a church building (any church building) and checking the doors, maybe walking in, and of course, it is the Jewish Sabbath and the Catholics will be having special masses; all these are forms of prayer.  I was singing church songs on my sailboat last night, in thanks for a wonderful evening and the gift of ‘Being’ on the water.

Most of us have heard the striking of a bell’s single tone, or maybe felt the rumbling in the ground of a train as its coming towards us on its tracks.  Surely we know the roar of a crowd raised when their team scores.  While hundreds of thousands of people will crowd in to football stadiums this weekend, they will all be thinking of their teams, in unison.  Pope Francis has called us all to be thinking in unison of one idea for all of us.  Thinks of peace and say a prayer this Saturday.  Sacrifice a little of what you normally might have, and join a billion Catholics around the world in concert.  Let’s raise our voices as one for our human team.

Pax Christi





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