Pope Francis has called for the entire Church, yet I hear within his call an invitation to the entire human family, to pray and fast for peace in Syria this coming Saturday September 7th.
Prayer, if we are not careful, can be uttered as a challenge to God and if He fails to answer us exactly as we wish we can become quite angry indeed.
I knew a now deceased radio personality who sincerely with the urgency of a father’s heart made such a prayer when his child was seriously ill.
The child died and the man never got over his anger.
Understandably, to be sure.
It is a dangerous thing to root our prayer where all prayer needs be rooted, in the Our Father: “Thy will be done.”
That is the extremely difficult paradox that we first encounter as little children and subsequently flee from as adults: Any petition to a loving parent only guarantees the response itself will be loving, but not necessarily what we want or perhaps expect.
As the Servant of God Catherine Doherty has taught: Prayer must lead to total surrender, or it will lead us nowhere except back to ourselves.
Total surrender in the context of prayer for Syria means purging our hearts of all anger, desire to punish, exact revenge.
Prayer for peace must be prayer FOR peace, not that side x or y wins!
Again Catherine reminds us that: It is this surrender we fear so much…….
I recall the night of 9/11 about to celebrate Holy Mass, the Mass the Church gives us to celebrate In Times of War and Civil Disturbance.
My sincere prayer was for peace but as I was about to make the Sign of the Cross I was fully aware of the state of my emotions best summed up in the expression: nuke them!
Bowing before the Icon of the Pantocrator I stayed bowed in prayer until my emotions had settled and then was able to sincerely celebrate Holy Mass for real peace.
Yes let us follow the request of Pope Francis and pray and fast for peace in Syria, but let us do so both surrendered to the Holy Will of God, whatever He may permit, and with hearts against no one but lovingly for everyone.