When Pope Francis called for a day of Fasting and Prayer for peace in Syria, many Catholic outlets pulled together prayer services and resources (including this blog). But why are we called to pray AND fast this Saturday?
In 2009, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio issued a Lenten message to the Archdiocese of Buenos Aries all about fasting. His ideas then shed light on his request for fasting now:
In his Lenten message, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, said amidst the atmosphere of “sadness” on display in the streets of Argentina with so many going hungry and in poverty, the Lenten fast is a way of expressing “solidarity with those who fast involuntarily” and helps people overcome indifference.
In a press release about the message, the cardinal said the reality of “men and women begging or going through trash, the elderly sleeping on street corners, kids sleeping on top of subway vents to stay warm” no longer “shocks us.”
“We show no interest in their lives, their stories, their needs or their future. How many times did their pleading looks made us look the other way and walk by. When we get used to something we also become indifferent,” he warned.
Cardinal Berglogio called on the faithful to observe the Lenten fast as “God desires,” that is, “giving bread to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, clothing to the naked, and not turning our backs on our neighbor.”
“Today we need to fast by working so that others don’t have to fast. Today we can only practice fasting by taking of the pain and powerlessness of the millions who go hungry. Whoever does not fast for the poor cheats God. To fast is to love,” he said.
Our fasting this Saturday is a powerful way to stand with those who “fast involuntarily” in Syria, who are going without safety, shelter, peace, and more.