VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican has published guidelines on the fast and prayer for peace, stating that “it is hard to see how terrorism will be tackled at its roots without a conversion of hearts.”
With this spirit, the Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff published a document Thursday entitled “Liturgical — Pastoral Guidelines on the Fast and Prayer for Peace in Preparation for the Assisi Meeting of January 24, 2002.”
The text also offers specific suggestions for the Dec. 14 day of fast, called by John Paul II, in conjunction with the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
“After the grievous terrorist attacks in the United States of America on September 11, the Holy Father has, on a number of occasions, deplored such violence and expressed his concern for the consequences of the military action taking place in Afghanistan,” the document explains in the introduction.
“The Church prays and invites everyone to ensure that love will prevail over hatred, peace over war, truth over falsehood, and forgiveness over revenge,” the text of the “guidelines” adds, which is addressed to all dioceses.
The Holy Father wishes the fast to become a cry of hearts to the Lord, because without his help “it will not be possible to find a solution to the tragic situation now facing the world.”
The Vatican document explains that the day of fasting involves all the faithful freely: “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.”
“Local tradition will suggest the best form of fasting to adopt: eating only one meal, or taking only ´bread and water,´ or waiting until sundown before eating,” the document states.
In addition, it “will be the responsibility of the Bishop to determine a simple and effective way of placing whatever is saved through fasting at the disposal of the poor, especially those who at present are suffering the consequences of terrorism and war.”
The novelty proposed by John Paul II is that the fast should be coupled with a pilgrimage. Dec. 14 will be the start of a spiritual and physical journey of believers toward an interior change.
Bishops will establish places for prayer from Dec. 14 until the vigil of Jan. 23, eve of the Assisi event.
Thus, this pilgrimage of preparation will extend over Christmas and Jan. 1, the World Day of Peace, which this year has the following motto established by the Pope: “No Peace Without Justice, No Justice Without Forgiveness.”