By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In Solidarity with the People of Syria

The crisis in Syria continues to deepen. Refugees are swelling in numbers. The international community is seemingly helpless to intervene in any meaningful way to bring the horror to an end. Pope Francis has focused upon that without which all efforts at peace will fall short: prayer. Fervent and unified prayer. The Holy Father has called the universal Church to a day of prayer and fasting for Syria on Saturday, September 7th, the vigil of the Feast of the Birth of Mary, normally celebrated September 8th. She is the Queen of Peace. We are asked to offer prayer to God throughout the day, and to fast as an act of solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters and as an expression of our fervent plea for a true and lasting peace in that land and throughout the Middle East. Let us also not fail to ask Our Lady for her intercession.

The Pope asks that people gather together for prayer on this special day. Therefore, you are invited to join with Bishop Bittman at St. Joseph's Basilica at 7:30 on the evening of the 7th for a period of prayer together for the people and nation of Syria. Since there will be little opportunity to announce this event via parish bulletins and pulpit announcements, please help to spread the word. You can find out further details about this special day by consulting our Archdiocesan website. Thanks.

In addition you will recall that the Bishops of Canada, as long ago as last June, called for a special day of prayer and fasting for Syria, and set the date for September 14th. This day coincides with the official end of our national fundraising campaign in support of the people of Syria. More importantly, it is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, a beautiful day to pray that the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ will touch and transform the land of Syria. Since many people who rely only upon bulletin and pulpit announcements will not have received word of the day called for by the Holy Father in time to participate, we have decided to maintain our plan for the 14th as well. A letter to that effect will be read from the pulpit at Masses this coming weekend.

Thank you for your participation in either or both of these days. Let us be one with our Holy Father, the Bishops of Canada and each other in solidarity with the suffering of Syria. May the Lord give true wisdom to world leaders and thus swiftly bring about a true and lasting peace.