MANILA, September 6, 2013–Pope Francis’ choice of a Marian day to have a world-wide day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria leads a Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) official to cite the Blessed Virgin Mary’s exceptional role as intercessor for this intention.
“We will invoke the special protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary [for] this event,” CBCP secretary general Msgr. Joselito Asis said during a mass celebrated for the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Council of the Laity of the Philippines) at the CBCP chapel this morning.
He pointed to the beautiful timing of the Holy Father’s call for an international day of prayer and fasting for the intention of Syria and the rest of the world because it coincides with the first Saturday of the month, a day known for devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as well as with the eve of Our Lady’s birthday, September 8.
Msgr. Asis, who ends his term as CBCP secretary general this December, encouraged the faithful to recognize the distinct Marian character of the timing by doing the First Saturday devotion on September 7 through the praying of the rosary, celebration of the Holy mass, offering up of sacrifices for the “intentions of peace” and fasting.
He even went on to exhort the attendees to extend their prayers for peace starting today, September 6, as part of the First Friday devotion, tomorrow, a First Saturday and the eve of the Blessed Virgin’s birthday, until September 8, Sunday, which is the day of the Lord.
Msgr. Asis noted how these consecutive, special days of prayer would be good opportunities for the faithful to unite themselves to the wider Church, as well as a time to lift up the intentions of the Philippines as well, particulary the pork barrel scam.
For those who could be up during wee hours, he encouraged accompanying Pope Francis’ vigil at St. Peter’s Square on television from 7:00 p.m. until 12:00 midnight (Rome time) or 1:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m., Philippine time.
The First Saturday devotion originated from a request made by Jesus in Fatima, Portugal for the reparation for five kinds of offenses against the Immaculate Heart of Mary: blasphemies against her Immaculate Conception; against her perpetual virginity; against the Blessed Virgin’s divine and spiritual maternity; the rejection, dishonoring or destruction of her images; and the neglect of implanting in the hearts of children a knowledge of and love for Our Lady. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]