Pope again calls for Ash Wednesday prayers, fasting for peace

 Pope John Paul reminded the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square yesterday that Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, March 5, when "we undertake a penitential path towards Easter with a stronger commitment to prayer and fasting for peace, which has been put in doubt by growing threats of war." He recalled that "last Sunday I announced this initiative that is intended to involve the faithful in a fervent prayer to Christ, Prince of Peace. Peace, in fact, is a gift of God that we must invoke with humble and insistent trust. Without giving in to difficulties, we must seek and pursue every possible path to avoid war, which always leads to mourning and grave consequences for everyone." The Pope noted that not only prayer, but fasting for peace, must mark Ash Wednesday. Calling fasting "a penitential practice that calls for a deeper spiritual effort," he added that "with physical fasting ... the Christian prepares to follow Christ and to be His faithful witness in every circumstance. In addition, fasting helps us to better understand the difficulties and sufferings of so many of our brothers and sisters, oppressed by hunger, misery and war." He urged Catholics "to live this day of prayer and fasting for peace with intense participation. ... We will ask for peace for the world, in particular for Iraq and the Holy Land, especially through reciting the Rosary, which will involve shrines and parishes, communities and families." Source: Vatican Information Service

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