Cathedral Lenten Fast and Prayer
A Statement and Invitation by the Franz Jagerstatter Committee
Christmas 2007 -- Towards Breaking the Silence
The Background: Inspired by the witness of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter; angered by the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the U.S. government and the subsequent acts of terror and atrocities committed against the Iraqi people; mourning U.S. casualties, both loss of life and physical and mental injuries; we admit our own complicity by our failure to raise our voices more forcefully.
We are reminded of the words of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, " If the Church stays silent in the face of what is happening, what difference would it make if no church were ever opened again" Holding his life, words and witness before us, as a church alive in action and in word, beginning another holy season of Lent/Easter we are challenged by the words of the prophet Isaiah, "Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high."
Prayer and fasting has a prominent place in Christianity. Jesus overcame the powers of temptation by his 40 days of prayer and fasting. Our faith tradition teaches us that the grace of prayer and fasting can conquer greed and the lust for power that lead to war.
In the Spirit of Christ, we have been moved to take the suffering caused by the present war unto ourselves. Therefore, we intend to fast and pray without ceasing throughout the entire season of Lent. In purifying ourselves of this suffering caused by war, we hope to extend this mercy to the mother church of the Diocese.
Our Purpose is fourfold:
* First, to purify our own hearts,
* Second, to ask for forgiveness for participating in the violence of war by our silence;
* Third, to educate Catholics, especially our young, on the nonviolent teachings and life of Jesus Himself to enable everyone to form a conscience founded on Holy Scripture and Church tradition,
* Fourth, we hope to engage the faithful in all United States and United Kingdom Cathedrals to fast and pray for the duration of the Lenten season.
An Invitation: Moved by faith and conscience, we struggle to respond to the gospel of Jesus, which challenges the church to answer this call to conversion:
* To change our hearts of hardness, indifference, and complicity to hearts of compassion, solidarity and justice,
* To fast and pray, in our Cathedral Church, in a spirit of REPENTANCE of the sins of war, terrorism and torture,
* To fast and pray, in our Cathedral Church, in a spirit of MOURNING for all the dead, wounded and the millions of displaced peoples of Iraq, as we take up alms to assist them
* To fast and pray, in our Cathedral Church, in a spirit that MOVES us from silence in our pulpits to be heralds of the Easter Gospel of Nonviolence and Peace,
* To fast and pray, in our Cathedral Church, in a spirit of HOPE to be a people of faith alive in the Risen Christ with New Life and a New Vision.
We petition our Bishops in all Dioceses to enable us to pray at our Cathedrals, the centers of our church; and we further petition our Bishops to support, pray and fast with us to help us cleanse our souls of the immorality of war, the immorality of torture, and the immorality of occupation. We invite and welcome the participation of all peoples of conscience in our efforts for peace in our world. Together we can fulfill our responsibility to our youth to educate them about forming a conscience consistent with the way and teaching of Jesus.
In Memory of Franz: Lord Jesus Christ, You filled your servant Franz Jagerstatter with a deep love for you, his family, and all people. During a time of contempt for God and humankind, you bestowed on him unerring discernment and integrity.
In Faith he followed his conscience and said a decisive NO to National Socialism (Nazism) and unjust war. Thus he sacrificed his life. We pray that you may glorify your servant Franz, so that many people may be encouraged by him and grow in love for you and all people. May his example shine out in our time and may you grant all people the strength to stand up for justice, peace and human dignity.
For yours is the glory and honor with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
(Prayer courtesy of the Diocese of Linz, Austria)
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