A Note From Fr. Timothy
Prayer, Penance, and Fasting
Those terms of “prayer, penance, and fasting” are something we often associate closely with the liturgical season of Lent (and with good reason since we hear them in the Gospel every Ash Wednesday). But Lent is not the only time of the year when we should be doing those things, rather it is something we should be doing throughout the year, while also increasing our prayer, penance, and fasting during particular times of need.
We heard a good reminder of that last Sunday when Pope Francis during his address to the crowd after the Angelus, urged all Christians to intensify their prayer, penance, and fasting for the situation in Afghanistan. In fact, he stressed it by repeating it several times and concluded by saying, “This is the time to do it. I am speaking seriously: intensify prayer and practice fasting, asking the Lord for mercy and forgiveness.”
The Taliban, an Islamic extremist group, has taken control of most of the country as U.S. forces have withdrawn from the region. The Taliban has a history of severe violence, torture, and abuse against others. Of special concern now are women and children, anyone who has assisted our country during the last 20 years, minorities, and other religious groups. We should be especially concerned for those Christians still in the area who will be forced to live in fear of the new government and its enforcers.
Many of you know that I was in the U.S. Army prior to becoming a priest, and although I never deployed to Afghanistan (having gone to Iraq instead), I know many others who were there and I respect and honor the sacrifices they made to try to bring peace and stability to the region and a hope for a brighter future. It greatly saddens me to see that light of hope darken in these days for the people of Afghanistan and throughout the world. I agree with Pope Francis that now is an important time to pray for the situation there, and our prayer should be connected to penance and fasting as well. Our simple acts of sacrifice in fasting from meals or observing penance help unite us in mind and spirit with those suffering much more serious situations half a world away and can give our prayers a deeper meaning.
Please pray for the Afghan people and for all those in power, that peace and the protection of the people might reign in every heart.
Fr. Timothy Gapinski
Pray for Afghanistan
O God of mercy and of peace,
We hold before you the peoples of Afghanistan.
Be living bread to those who are hungry each day
Be healing and wholeness to those who have no access to health care amidst the ravages of pandemic
Be their true home to all who have been displaced
Be open arms of loving acceptance to those who fear because of their gender, ethnicity, religious or political views
Be peace to those engaged in armed conflict and those who live within its shadow.
Turn our hearts and minds to your ways of just and gentle peace,
Open our eyes to see you in all acts of compassionate care
Strengthen our hearts to step out in solidarity with your suffering people and
Hold us all in your unfailing love.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who emptied himself of all but love in order to bring life in all its fullness.