Pope Francis on February 4 announced a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace to be held February 23, 2018. The Holy Father’s invitation came after the Angelus, prayed in St. Peter’s Square last Sunday.

(Max Rossi, Reuters)

‘In the face of the tragic protraction of situations of conflict in different parts of the world, I invite all the faithful to a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace next February 23, Friday of the First Week of Lent. We will offer it in particular for the populations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of South Sudan. As on other similar occasions, I also invite non-Catholic and non-Christian brothers and sisters to associate themselves to this initiative in the way they consider most opportune, but all together.

Our heavenly Father always listens to His children who cry to Him in sorrow and anguish, who “heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). I make a heartfelt appeal so that we also listen to this cry and, each one of us in his/her own conscience before God, ask ourselves: “What can I do for peace?” We certainly can pray, but not only: each one can say concretely “no” to violence in as much as it depends on him or her. Because the victories obtained with violence are false victories while working for peace does everyone good!’

We are used to this particular Friday being a CAFOD Lenten Fast Day in this country but there’s nothing to say we can’t pick up that challenge of using the day to pray for peace, united with the Church throughout the world and all those who seek and strive after peace.

What could you do in your family, at home or in your parish on this day? What do you already do that could include that intention for peace? Maybe fasting is not something that you’ve participated in before – maybe this year might be a first! There maybe be something that we can do during the day that builds relationship or fosters peace and harmony in our own working, family or social environment, too. United in solidarity and charity with those who fast through no choice of their own – the hungry and the thirsty – let us pray, also, with Pope Francis for those whose lives are touched by war and violence, by hatred and division.