The Bishop of Plymouth, Bishop Mark O’Toole, has strongly urged all Catholics to go to Mass this Ash Wednesday to pray for peace in Ukraine.
This follows Pope Francis’ call to observe Ash Wednesday, 2 March, as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace.
“We all feel somewhat impotent,” said the Chair of the Department of Evangelisation and Discipleship at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in a Pastoral Message being sent to parishes in the Diocese of Plymouth today. The disciplines of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving “have a particular focus for us,” he said, “as we link these spiritual weapons to the reality of what we are living through in Europe at this time.“
The Bishop urges all Catholics to pick up the weapon of prayer: “Physical attendance at Mass, for those who are able, can be a practise that is lived in these days as an act of solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering.”
He said that the weapon of fasting: “is an act of solidarity with those who are poor.” He described: “how shocking it has been for us to see the scenes of panic food and fuel-buying in Ukraine, of the very real sacrifices forced on people as a result of war. Fasting brings us closer to them.”
And the weapon of almsgiving helps us to be in solidarity with “the poorest in our communities” and “more sensitive to the needs of our neighbours, both at home, and in Ukraine.”
His hope is that “our countries will be generous in receiving these desperate brothers and sisters fleeing for safety from war in their homeland.”
You can download Bishop Mark O’Toole’s full Pastoral Letter for Lent 2022: