Vatican Council Recommends Including Children in Prayer Day

Sees Chance to Explain Harshness of News, Hope of Peace

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The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family says that this Saturday’s Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria and the world is an opportunity for children too.

In a statement Wednesday, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia encouraged parents to «not be afraid to propose an austere and minimal lunch to your children.»

He said that the fast would be an opportunity to «explain to them what is happening in the world and how these terrible things cannot leave us indifferent.»

With the «harshness of the news,» he said, also communicate the «hope of peace offered by the risen Jesus, who has reconciled the world not with violent and vindictive acts but through the gift of Himself.»

Grandparents and the elderly should be invited to these meals of «little food and many words,» the archbishop continued.

«Children and young people, don’t complain if, on Saturday, there aren’t any big dishes on the table; but rather thank your parents for what they are in fact offering to you, and ask them for explanations and reasons of why it’s worth continuing to live in this land, too often marked by mourning and violence,» the council president suggested.

He exhorted: «Together, at the table, pray! For families of Syria, for the children who die every day from hunger and hatred, for the governmental leaders who are called to find peaceful and non-violent solutions.»

The archbishop’s suggestion echoes recommendations in a 2001 note from the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations regarding the 2001 Day of Prayer that Pope John Paul II called after the attack on the Twin Towers:

The «day of fasting» should be understood not just in terms of the legal norms set down in the Code of Canon Law (CIC 1249-1253; CCEO 882-883), but in a wider sense which freely involves all the faithful: children, who willingly make sacrifices to help other poor children; young people, who are especially sensitive to the cause of justice and peace; all adults, excluding the sick but including the elderly.

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