Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass for Peace and Justice

“Today we pray for those who are a part of our human family and who endure terrible acts of violence. We also invoke God’s blessings on those who strive to contain violence around the world. We ask God to give all of us the strength to walk in the light of God’s love and that we might be agents of human solidarity, justice and true peace.”

September 07, 2013

Pope Francis recently called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, in the Middle East, and throughout the world. In communion with the pope’s request, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington was the principal celebrant and homilist at a Mass for Peace and Justice on September 7 at the Basilica of the National Shine of the Immaculate Conception. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, represented Pope Francis. Cardinal William Baum, Major Penitentiary Emeritus, Bishop Barry C. Knestout and Bishop Martin D. Holly, auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Washington, and Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, the General Secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, were also present.

The Mass coincided with the opening Vigil for Prayer in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, allowing the faithful in the Archdiocese of Washington to be spiritually united in prayer with the Holy Father and the universal Church gathered in prayer for peace. In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl said to those gathered in the crypt church of the basilica, “… there is more than just our confidence in the power of prayer that summons us today. We respond in solidarity with our Holy Father Pope Francis. Mindful that Jesus himself told us, ‘Where two or three are gathered I am with them,’ the Pope calls us to join him and the tens of thousands who are gathering at this very hour in Rome at Saint Peter’s Square. In churches, great and small, in cathedrals, basilicas and chapels around the world, Catholics and our neighbors are coming together in twos, and threes, and hundreds and thousands so that Jesus will be with us as we lift up our voices in prayer. In uniting our prayer with that of our brothers and sisters throughout the Catholic world, our prayer truly becomes universal and a sign of hope for the world.”

“The Church always calls us to prayer. Particularly in moments of crisis we turn to prayer. It is what we do best because it is what Jesus asks us to do,” the Cardinal said. “…This time we ask on behalf of those who suffer so mightily in the Middle East. We seek for them and for ourselves peace. We knock at the doors of human hearts all over the world, but particularly in Syria and the Middle East, asking that God open them with the power of his love so that those hearts might be changed – so that the world might be changed.”

“We must never allow the violence that exists in the world to wound our inner conviction that Christ is ‘the way, the truth and the life,’” Cardinal Wuerl continued. “The path he sets before us – to be peacemakers and to hunger and thirst for holiness, justice, mercy is his way. What the Lord tells us is that we have the power within us to make this world a better place. Our actions, while individual and seemingly small, play a part in the great cosmic struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness, between peace and war, between violence and harmony, between hatred and love. Jesus tells us that victory begins first in each human heart.” The Cardinal also reminded the faithful that prayers must also include “words of gratitude for those who serve our nation both here and abroad,” and added, “Their bravery is born of necessity. Their bravery is their gift.”

The Cardinal concluded his homily by reminding those gathered that September 7 was the vigil of the Nativity of Mary, Queen of Peace and quoted Pope Francis, “Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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