Saturday, September 07, 2013

“Syria Day” Live Blog No. 15 (English)


Pope Francis’ call for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace in the Middle East was welcome with a generous spirit throughout the Church, but in some quarters there was some minor grousing over the short notice provided by a papal exhortation made on September 1st requiring a worldwide response on September 7th.  Many parish bulletins have to be put together some good time in advance of their printing and delivery and distribution,” wrote Fr. John Zuhlsdorf in his popular Catholic blog.  “Fr. Z.” went on to suggest that each diocese designate a point-person to monitor the pope’s pronouncements for urgent action items to ensure things like this would not fall through the cracks.
Surely there can be no pretext, in an era in which the Pope’sTwitter accounts in multiple languages draw nine million followers and his messages are the most “re-tweeted” on the Internetto say nothing of the Holy See’s presence online (web site, FaceBook, YouTube, etc.), Catholic blogs, message boards and even “antiquated” list-servs, email chains, etc.  As usual, I think back to Archbishop Romero, who would monitor the crackling signal of Radio Vaticana with his little, battery-operated short band radio, to find out what the Pope had said, so that he could always incorporate the Pope’s messages into his Sunday Sermons.  Every Christian, he said, has a duty to relay the Church’s message.
Jesus was very concerned that his followers become a living word, light of the world and salt of the earth,” Romero stated after right wing terrorists blew up the radio station used to broadcast his sermons.  In other words, even though we may not have radios or any other technical apparatus, may all Christians proclaim throughout the world the great liberating message of Christianity!  In response, the faithful began to record Romero’s homilies using hand-held cassette recorders and to distribute copies throughout the country, by hand.

Happily, the response to Pope Francis’ initiative also has been robust.  The vigil in St. Peter’s attracted some 100,000 faithful and was the biggest peace rally by the Church in decades.  Churches across Europe urged their faithful to join the day of fasting and prayer, including in tiny Malta.  Similarly, the call was heard in the Holy Land and the Middle East, and in Asia.  In North America, the U.S. bishops joined the call (individual bishops also issued statements) and diverse activities were organized throughout the United States, from Harrisburg to Juneau and the Quad-CityUniversities responded, as did religious orders.  And of course, Latin America, the Pope’s home region, was not to be left behind.
Every Christian needs to become a relay station for the New Evangelization.

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