Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 1. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Responding to Pope Francis’ call for Catholics around the world to fast and pray for peace in Syria and the Middle East, Archbishop Charles Chaput invites Catholics and everyone in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to participate this Saturday, Sept. 7, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia will be open from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday night for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Communal prayers for peace will be offered every hour.

People participating in the fast on that day may refrain from eating meals, eating only simple meals or taking no food between meals.

In his Angelus message Sept. 1, Pope Francis urged Catholics and all people to pursue peace and to participate in the day of fasting and prayer. He is expected to lead penitential prayers in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 7, asking God for the gift of peace in Syria and all places of conflict.

The pope asked all local churches to participate in a similar way.

The Philadelphia Archdiocese also suggested the following prayer intention to be used at Mass for the next several Sundays:

“For God’s gift of peace in Syria and throughout the world, may it be advanced by fasting, prayer and genuine international and individual efforts to bring an end to violence and war, let us pray to the Lord.”

The Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops also asked all Catholic bishops in the United States to encourage people in their dioceses to participate in the fast and prayers for peace.

The USCCB offers a page with bishops’ statements and background documents on the crisis in Syria, a link for people to contact their congressional representative and senators about the issue, as well as the following prayer:

God of Compassion,
Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
Strengthen Syria’s neighbors in their care and welcome for refugees,
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
And protect those committed to peace.

God of Hope,
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,