Six days after the initial surprise attacks in Israel, Cardinal Vincent Nichols continues to urge the faithful to pray for peace as conflict escalates and the death toll rises in both Israel and Gaza.
In a statement released today (13th October), Cardinal Nichols said:
“A week into the terrible conflict in Israel and Gaza, I urge Catholics to sustain their prayers for peace. The horrific atrocities committed by Hamas in Israel warrant every condemnation.
“We continue to hold in our prayers those who were killed, the injured, those held hostage, their families and communities.
“The situation facing the millions of civilians in Gaza also calls for effective humanitarian relief. We pray too for those killed, injured and displaced there.
“At home I appeal for restraint and the total avoidance of hateful language and action, as the impact of this conflict is felt in communities here.”
Day of Prayer and Fasting
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, as President of the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL), is calling for a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer for peace and reconciliation.
Inviting all parishes and religious communities to pray on Tuesday, 17th October, Cardinal Pizzaballa encouraged prayer times to be organised with Eucharistic adoration and the recitation of the Rosary to Our Blessed Virgin Mary.
Writing to the world’s faithful as President of the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL), His Eminence wrote:
“The pain and dismay at what is happening is great. Once again we find ourselves in the midst of a political and military crisis. We have suddenly been catapulted into a sea of unprecedented violence. The hatred, which we have unfortunately already been experiencing for too long, will increase even more, and the ensuing spiral of violence will create more destruction. Everything seems to speak of death.
“Yet, in this time of sorrow and dismay, we do not want to remain helpless. We cannot let death and its sting (1 Cor 15:55) be the only word we hear.
“That is why we feel the need to pray, to turn our hearts to God the Father. Only in this way we can draw the strength and serenity needed to endure these hard times, by turning to Him, in prayer and intercession, to implore and cry out to God amidst this anguish.
“On behalf of all the Ordinaries of the Holy Land, I invite all parishes and religious communities to a day of fasting and prayer for peace and reconciliation.
“We ask that on Tuesday, October 17th, everyone hold a day of fasting, abstinence, and prayer. Let us organise prayer times with Eucharistic adoration and with the recitation of the Rosary to Our Blessed Virgin Mary. Although most probably in many parts of our dioceses circumstances will not permit large gatherings, it is possible to organize simple and sober common moments of prayer in parishes, religious communities, and families.
“This is the way we all come together despite everything, and unite collectively in prayer, to deliver to God the Father our thirst for peace, justice, and reconciliation.”
You can download Cardinal Pizzaballa’s letter on behalf of the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (ACOHL).
CAFOD, the official Catholic overseas aid agency for England and Wales, has an online form that enables Catholics to contact the Foreign Secretary to urge the UK to play its part in upholding international law, ensuring humanitarian aid can reach people in need, and works with other world leaders to secure a lasting peace for the region. Read more.
A short prayer offered by Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, Patriarch of Chaldean Catholic Church, Iraq, at the Synod gathering in Rome.
O God, who cares for all,
let the whole of humanity who have one origin from you,
form one family, without violence, without absurd wars and with brotherly spirit,
live united in peace and concord for our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son who is God,
and lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit for ever and ever,
Holy Land Prayer
This prayer was prayed by the Bishops of the Holy Land Co-ordination at their annual meeting held in the region in 2017.
O God of our ancestors,
you gave us the earth to make our home
so that all peoples may live together in harmony.
We have allowed our sad divisions to grow,
causing discord and fear of one another.
We have scarred the land through our pride.
May we learn from the past
and remember all those who have suffered,
all those who have lost their lives.
O God of today and every day,
you walk alongside us in our daily lives.
We seek a place to make our home,
where we can live in peace and fulfilment,
and our families grow in love and prosperity.
May we raise up new foundations,
reach out to our neighbours
and welcome the stranger in our midst.
O God, guide our steps
to a future beyond our hopes.
Solutions cannot just be drawn like lines on paper
but through the changing of hearts and minds.
Open our eyes to see
that while we suffer, we may also inflict suffering on others;
that in trying to protect ourselves
we may be leaving less space for trust.
God of mercy and compassion
we place in your hands
this land and all its people
guide and support all those
who seek to establish that justice
which alone ensures true and lasting peace.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.