On Prayer for Peace in Syria

Over at the Washington Post, our former editor in chief Drew Christiansen offered his thoughts on prayer, fasting and Syria's civil war:

With no end in sight for Syria’s dreadful civil war,Pope Francis has called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace on Saturday, September 7. With the fecklessness of the international community, and with no prospect that limited military intervention will bring relief to the victims of war, we should be driven to our knees. It is a moment for the church to pray for God to grant peace where men have failed to dampen the fires of war and see no prospect of doing so soon.


The turn to prayer at a juncture like this is not just a Catholic thing. It is a profound human need which others can share, because humanity is face to face with its own powerlessness to prevent the cruelest evils from being done. For that reason, the pope has made his request “a universal invitation” to all men and women “of peace.” In doing so, he is giving voice to humanity’s desire for peace. He is also inviting us to come to grips with our inability to bring about peace and to voice our exasperation at the intransigence of so many now blocking the way to peace.

Prayer and fasting may be especially important exercises for us can-do Americans.  The debate over whether to briefly intervene in the Syrian conflict offers an occasion to reflect on the human and national limitations that most times we are so ready to ignore or deny. After a wrong-headed war in Iraq and that country’s ongoing travails, after the very limited and probably temporary successes in Afghanistan, after so many veterans wounded in mind and heart, with the continuing chaos and repression in Egypt, we Americans have many reasons to reflect on our human limitations and particularly on the evident incapacity of military power and governmental influence to bring about the good we desire.

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Bruce Snowden
5 years 4 months ago
Regarding on how to pray it's said St. Ignatius of Loyola recommended to "work as if everything depended on self, while praying as if everything depended on God." I understand this to mean that, while praying we have to do whatever is helpful in getting that prayer answered. Example: if prayer has to do with getting monetary help from Above, while praying we must also review how we handle available resources, plugging the dyke so to speak through more careful management of available cash, rooted I guess in the axiom, "God helps those who help themselves." If this is true is it crazy of me to suggest that Pope Francis along with prayer and fasting, offer his services as mediator in the Syria conflict, meeting with Assad, other Islamic regional leadership, President Obama and others, in Damascus or Rome, or other location, "sowing pardon where there is injury, hope in place of despair" having a Peace Summit, productively talking, rather than destructively killing. Yes, for Allah's sake, for God's sake, TALK!
Mary Sweeney
5 years 4 months ago
I thoroughly agree with Bruce Snowden. I think back to the days of innocence and the "Beer Summit": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Louis_Gates_arrest_controversy That was a mere "blip" by comparison and yet there was a creative intervention. Yes, I too expect something in addition to prayer and fasting from the Pope. I watched the film "Game Change" last night. There were two relevant takeaways: the importance of thorough and extensive research (not sure if that lesson has been learned if we are playing poker during the Syria briefing, and I really don't care if the briefing was 3+ hours) and the willingness to act boldly with imagination to at least attempt to deflect an outcome that seemed inevitable. This Pope has a devotion to Mary as Untier of Knots. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Untier_of_Knots I have no doubt that she is up to the task and pray that they will collaborate. I wonder how many people are aware of his request for Saturday the 7th as a day of Prayer and Fasting for the Syrian crisis. I have not seen much "boots on the ground" communication on the subject.
Bruce Snowden
5 years 4 months ago
Thank you Mary Sweeney for your affirmative response, additionally pointing out the essential part of Blessed Mary in a peaceful outcome. She's the "Untier of Knots" also "Nots", as in "Let's NOT Talk!" Let's hope that someone with direct access to Pope Francis will suggest to him to offer his services to negotiated a Peace settlement ,in Damascus, Rome, or elsewhere respectful of all.


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