Demonstrating his deep concern for growing violence against innocent people in the Middle East, Archbishop Samuel Aquila invites people of all faith backgrounds to an evening of interreligious prayer at 7 p.m. Aug. 11 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver.
“We must pray and fast for our enemies,” Archbishop Aquila wrote in a recent column, “and their change of heart as Jesus commands us in the Gospel.”
The initiative is a collaborative effort of the Archdiocese of Denver, with the Office of Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon in the United States, directed by Father Andre-Sebastian Mahanna, pastor of St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church in Lakewood and a native of Lebanon.
At the interfaith service, Archbishop Aquila and Father Mahanna will be joined by Christians from the Middle East, both Catholic and Orthodox from Aramaic, Syro-Aramaic, Coptic, Greek and Armenian traditions; representatives of Christian churches of the West, both evangelical and Catholic; and members of the Jewish and Muslim monotheistic religions.
“We are coming together as a people who believe in God … proud of our diversity, yet honored to call one another brothers and sisters, to celebrate and protect the civilization of diversity, peace, love and co-existence,” Father Mahanna told the Denver Catholic Register Aug. 6.
The service will include a procession of Christian symbols, along with the Jewish and Muslim holy books, the Torah and Koran respectively, to be processed with dignity into properly assigned places for the proclamation. There will be prayers from the Catholic, Jewish and Islamic traditions; as well as hymns and universal prayers for peace. The “Our Father” will be chanted in all of the historical sacred languages: Hebrew, Syro-Aramaic, Greek and Latin; as well as English; and prayers will be chanted in Arabic.