Last week when Pope Francis announced that he was designating a day for all Catholics, including our fellow Christians, to fast and pray for peace in Syria, I thought to myself, “This is very cool. The Pope is connected well with the world.” Then I found out the date was Saturday, September 7 and the first thing that came to my mind was, “Oh no! That’s College Football Saturday.”
Like most Americans, we are usually attending a college football game or watching at least 2-3 games per day while sitting on the couch, eating all types of food, and putting down a few beers. Then it came to me, Saturdays for the rest of the world are part of the weekend, but many are not consumed with college football as we are here in the states.
My fellow brothers and sisters, this is important! A man who said he would not go to war without approval cannot drag us into another senseless war. We must pray that Congress sees the errors that are before them and vote this down. The country of Syria, especially our fellow Christians who are being martyred because of their Christian faith, need our prayers! This is a good day and I thank Pope Francis for calling it.
So with all of this in mind, I came up with Five Steps to Fast and Pray for Peace in Syria on College Football Saturday.
1. As soon as you awake from sleep and your feet hit the floor, offer up this Saturday in complete prayer for peace in Syria. Offer it all up! Your prayers, the struggle to fast, your work, your errands, your struggles, and everything else you can think of that will help during this day. Don’t forget this battle is not just between countries, but there is spiritual battle behind it all. Ask your guardian angel to give you strength so that the principalities that are against us can be defeated.
2. Eat a small breakfast. I don’t eat a lot for breakfast to begin with, but on this day, I will eat my usual amount since it’s usually only a bowl of organic cereal. If you are a big breakfast person, then just eat half of it or even a quarter of it. If you really need coffee in the morning, then drink it, since liquids don’t break the fast (even during Lent this is case), but the real sacrifice would be to not drink the coffee on Saturday.
3. Attend a prayer vigil in your diocese. Many dioceses around the country are having prayer vigils at either the diocesan cathedral or there are parishes that are offering prayer vigils. The Bishops and many priests are heeding the call of Pope Francis. Take an hour or two out of your Saturday and attend one. Praying in solitude is great, but when we pray as a community are prayers are even stronger. Remember what Jesus himself said to us – where two or more are gathered, I am there. Check your local diocesan website to find a prayer vigil.
4. Eat something small that does not equal a full meal. As it is during the Penitential Season of Lent (and Advent), you can eat two small meals as long as they don’t equal one full meal. During the day, you will probably get hungry, so eat something small. If you can find pretzel bread or if you live in Philadelphia which has those great pretzels, eat one of those to hold you over for the one full meal at night when your watching Notre Dame at Michigan.
Footnote: Now if you are committed to attending a tailgate, let’s say for the Texas A&M football game, and you are the person bringing the ribs, then fasting is going to be a bit more difficult. If this is the case, then fast today or fast on Monday, but at least do some fasting. Sundays are never days for fasting. It’s the day of the Resurrection.
Praying might be difficult at a tailgate as well, so make sure you pray at some point. Offer up a Rosary on your way to work today or on Monday. Even though drinking beer won’t break the fast, maybe it’s good to offer it up. We have plenty of more college football games this season, but I leave that up to your conscience.
5. Order a pizza (or pizzas if you are having people over), chill out on the couch, and have your one full meal of the day while watching the Notre Dame and Michigan game (Michigan wins by 7). For those people on the East Coast, this game will be at 8:00 pm and will end around bedtime for most. Those of us on the West Coast will still have a few more hours of fasting to go. Either way, as your feet come off the floor and you enter bed, say a prayer of thanksgiving for the day and especially a prayer for Syria, the Christians in the country, and that world leaders make good rational choices.