5 Steps to Fasting and Prayer For Peace in Syria on College Football Saturday

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.

Day of Prayer and Fasting for Syria

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.

24 replies »

  1. This is great! Thank you. Just one typo: you meant “Irish win by 14.” Don’t worry, if I’m the first commenter you can correct that before anyone else sees it.

    • This is great, I live in France. So I’m late so I will do my fasting on Monday. I’m been saying my prayers for Syria and Egypt for long time. I’m a big College football fan instead of felling sorry that can’t see any games . I will use this time better . Thank you again

  2. Reblogged this on That's Latin Darlin and commented:
    I wanted to share Tom’s post as he gives some good ideas for Prayer, Fasting, and Football. Great way to celebrate Football Saturday in the SEC and prayer for Catholics and Christians in Syria.

  3. Good grief! Are you kidding? With all due respect for your good intentions, the very idea of such a whimpy prayer/fast seems a bit unreal! It’s lip service to the whole idea of fasting and prayer. Fasting should be hard. How about going without food today, or if that’s to much, try bread and water. How about turning off the TV altogether! The colleges will win or lose regardless of the fact that you might not be watching. There are people dying in Syria and the Middle East. Many of them are children. Many of the children are orphans.
    I realize that you mean well, BUT, the type of fast and prayer that you advocate pays only lip service to the whole idea of intercession for those who suffer. Being Christian in the crucuble that we call the Middle East may very well the sacrifice of one’s very life. Our concern for them needs to go beyond symbolic gesture.
    If it’s too inconvenient, be honest with yourself. Forget about the fasting and prayers and go enjoy the game. That might (at least for you) be the better thing to do.

  4. I don’t think anyone is judging hearts by judging actions. It seems like a “kinda” as long as it doesn’t get in my way for the day. Rev 3:15-16.

  5. Dear Tom,

    Thanks for some practical ideas and your willingness to evangelize a culture that has certain traditions on Saturday. Your thoughts remind me to respond to the requests of our Holy Father and the Church, while participating in my humanity. It is amazing that I can live my human life yet still participate in spiritual battle through fasting and prayer. Great for those who desire to radically pray and fast more. I’m glad Holy Mother Church does not view my attempt at prayer and fasting to be “whimpy.” The Pharisees desired to tie up heavy burdens on others, but it seems the Church asks us to respond in a manner that coincides with our lives. Does this mean stop watching football? stop eating pizza? don’t go outside? don’t live your life? I certainly do not think so. God bless brother!

    Forward St. Mary’s!

    • I don’t believe anyone said wimpy, so not quite sure what the qoutation marks are there for. It just seems like a rationalization if not really changing anything on your social agenda or plans in answer to the pope’s call for a day of fasting. I am obviously not him, but college football Saturday I am sure was probably not on his mind.

      On fasting:

      “If you see an enemy, be reconciled with him. If you see a friend gaining honor, do not be jealous of him. And let not only the mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all members of your bodies.” —St. John Chrysostom

      Maybe if one ordered only a 12 count of wings instead of the regular 18 that would meet John’s definition?

      “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” Oh yeah we did, but we also caught the notre dame game as well…

      This is the “Engagement of the Catholic Faithful in the New Evangelization”? This is the witness to the world we are giving? Come on!

      • I am not sure why I am responding to your sarcastic comment. I have better things to do today. EH or whatever your name happens to be – my blog post was a suggestion. You don’t like it, then move on! However, I believe dialogue among individuals needs to happen more for us to learn from one another. You and one more person are the two that find this blog post problematic. I have received many other affirmations on here and in my email. If you want to fast on bread and water and not watch football, then fine, do that.

        This is the Engagement of the Catholic Faithful in the New Evangelization! You go out and reach the people where they are currently in their lives. It’s called being a disciple and an a Evangelical Catholic. We can still pray and fast for our brothers and sisters in Syria, while still living our daily life on Saturday. I am not going to separate myself from my community today just because I am fasting and praying. I will stick to being a disciple.

      • Catholic bear,
        I had another response that pertains also to you, but the moderator I guess won’t let it through. Lets just talk and dialogue with everyone who agrees with us. Anyone who doesn’t let’s just use terms like Pharisee or legalistic, that will teach them!

  6. Bravo! Little things with great love said Little Flower and she is reigning with Christ! U keep up the good work and….. Go Michigan!

  7. Good thoughts, Mr. Perna. And when the Western Church quarrels fasting, I find that the Eastern lung of Holy Mother Church has much to offer on the topic:

    (written for Lent, but good nonetheless)
    By the Reverend Father Athanasios Demos
    “If one truly desires to fast, s/he must not sin! The spiritual fast is the truest form of fasting, from evil thoughts, words and deeds. Being weak and vulnerable beings, we find ourselves “prone” to sin. The church recognises our need to experience a physical fast to assist us in training ourselves to fast spiritually. Even the terminology we use is a misnomer. We do not fast, we abstain! To fast physically one does not eat. …
    I would like to offer these following suggestions for your Lenten fasting:
    Try to do the best you can without condemning yourself or others.
    Read the suggested “degrees of fasting”….”
    …Please do your best without condemning yourself and others. In all cases, you should spend more time in Worship, by attending Lenten services and giving more time to Prayer. Meditate on God’s love for you and how you can return that love to God through your love for others. Partake often of the Holy Sacraments. Read your Bible each day as well as the spiritually inspiring writings of the Church Fathers. Give to those in need. Offer more of your time, talent and treasure to the church. Turn off the TV and spend more time with family and friends. Use moderation in food, drink, and social engagements. Judge not, rather humbly seek your own true repentance, to change and return to the path of righteousness as your soul continually seeks union with God each day of your life and forever more.
    Entire post:

    And, of course, St. John Chrysostom on fasting:
    “Let the mouth fast from disgraceful and abusive words, because, what gain is there when, on the one hand we avoid eating chicken and fish and, on the other, we chew-up and consume our brothers? He who condemns and blasphemes is as if he has eaten brotherly meat, as if he has bitten into the flesh of his fellow man. It is because of this that Paul frightened us, saying: “If you chew up and consume one another be careful that you do not annihilate yourselves.”

    You did not thrust your teeth into the flesh (of your neighbor) but you thrusted bad talk in his soul; you wounded it by spreading disfame, causing unestimatable damage both to yourself, to him, and to many others.”

    • Thank you Julia for giving us some insight from the Eastern lung of the Church. I am still learning more about the East. There is a lot I need to learn. I am humbled by your comment. Thanks again!