Amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in the Holy Land, Pope Francis has called for a day of prayer and fasting on Friday, Oct. 27.
At the end of his general audience on Oct. 18, Pope Francis said the 27th will be “a day of penance to which I invite sisters and brothers of the various Christian denominations, those belonging to other religions, and all those who have at heart the cause of peace in the world, to join in as they see fit.”
A prayer vigil will take place at 6 p.m. in St. Peter’s Square, where the faithful will join the pope to participate in “an hour of prayer in a spirit of penance to implore peace in our time, peace in this world.”
“I ask all the particular Churches to participate by arranging similar activities involving the people of God,” the pope said.
Here are several ways to take part:
If your local parish is already planning to have a Mass for this day of prayer for the Holy Land, consider attending. Some archdioceses have already announced Masses taking place, such as those of Detroit and Philadelphia. However, if you’re unable to make it or your parish is not having a Mass specifically for this day, you can also attend a daily Mass.
Make a Holy Hour
The tradition of a Holy Hour goes back to 1674 when Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and instructed her to spend an hour every Thursday meditating on his sufferings in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Typically, a Holy Hour is done in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament; however, a Holy Hour can be done at any time and anywhere — in your home, in a church, or even outside in nature. During a Holy Hour you can read Scripture, listen to worship music, journal, spend time in contemplation, or simply sit and talk with God.
Pray the rosary
As many of the saints have said, the rosary is a powerful weapon. Dedicate a rosary for peace in Israel and Palestine. If you don’t have time to say a rosary all at once, break it up throughout the day by saying a decade when you can.
When fasting, the Church allows people to eat one full meal as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. However, food isn’t the only way one can fast. Staying off social media for the day, not having your morning coffee, turning off your music in the car and instead spending some time in prayer, or giving up anything you consider important in your day are all ways you can fast.
Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
Similar to the rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet is a powerful prayer. Given by Jesus to St. Faustina Kowalska, the chaplet is prayed with a rosary and only takes a couple of minutes. Many Catholics recite the chaplet at 3 p.m. because it is known as the “hour of great mercy” as we remember Christ’s death on the cross at 3 p.m. on Good Friday.
Read the Bible
Spending time with the word of God is just as important as prayer. Try to start your day by reading a Gospel passage or just open your Bible and read whatever page it opens to and spend time thinking of what God is trying to tell you. If you’re not sure what to read, the Psalms are always a great option.
If you are in a position to help those suffering in the Middle East financially, there are several organizations accepting donations in order to help with critical relief. Catholic Relief Services is working to provide families with assistance in the Holy Land and Palestine. Others include Aid to the Church in Need, Caritas International, and World Central Kitchen.