From a reader:
The Holy Father has declared that next Saturday, September 7th, will be a day of prayer and fast for peace, for the whole Church.
Do you think that, particularly as far as fast is concerned, that means only an invitation, a piece of advice, or a true and strict precept, under penalty of sin, as if it were Ash Wednesday or Good Friday?
I hope I shall be able to fast anyway, but I’d very much appreciate your help.
What did the Pope really say? HERE
To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaimfor the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative. On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, [That means dioceses and eparchies.] in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.
It seems that the Pope has not done anything juridical here to bind local churches and all Catholics to some kind of action. 7 September is not like Ash Wednesday or Good Friday.
However, I watched the video of the Angelus from yesterday. He really meant business.
It strikes me that the force of this “invitation” should bring us in every parish and diocese and Catholic household to do something. It might be good to coordinate (if your time zones allow) some action during the time frame the Pope mentioned for Rome.
For example, could there not be in a parish in, say, the Central Time Zone in these USA, Rosary at 11:45 AM and Mass at Noon (1900 Rome time), and then Exposition after Mass, and Mass again at 5 PM (Midnight Rome time). Perhaps with confessions for some time before each Mass. Furthermore, since this invitation from the Pope includes fasting, perhaps there could be a food drive: people could contribute to the drive what they would have otherwise eaten.
And why not make it, voluntarily, a day of fasting and abstinence like to Good Friday?
So, no, I don’t think we would sin by not participating in this in a concrete way. However, when the Holy Father makes an appeal like this, then we should respond.
And I will add this: Those of you of the traditional stripe, by the first to take the initiative and help with whatever might be organized. Get out there.
Just some thoughts.
PS: Too bad he didn’t call for this to coincide with the September Ember Days!
Dr. Peter’s comments on this matter HERE