As most people have already read or otherwise heard, today at 7:00 p.m. Rome Time (noon here in Minneapolis) Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartolomeo I of Constantinople will gather in the Vatican Gardens with Presidents Shimon Peres of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine to pray for peace in the Holy Land.
The prayer will consist of three parts, each of which (as described by the Vatican) “will be devoted to an invocation by one of the three religious communities, in chronological order: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.” The Vatican further explained: “Each part will itself unfold in three moments. The first moment will consist of an expression of praise to God for his gift of creation, and for his having created us as members of the human family. In the second moment, we will ask pardon from God for the times we have failed to act as brothers and sisters, and for our sins against him and against our fellow men and women. In the third moment, we will ask God to grant the gift of peace to the Holy Land and to enable us to be peacemakers.”
After the three parts of the prayer, each of Pope Francis and the two presidents will give a speech invoking peace, after which, the Pope, the presidents, and Patriarch Bartolomeo I, will exchange a sign of peace. Finally, Pope Francis and the two presidents will plant an olive tree together as a symbol of peace.
This is a momentous occasion and we might all think of ways to honor and participate in it. My friend Richard Burbach shared on his blog the other day a suggestion of prayer and candle lighting. I plan to spend time in prayer at the time the prayer begins in Rome. Others will gather communally.
What will you do?