A Word with the FSJ: Fasting for Peace in Gaza

The brothers of SSJE pray regularly for the cessation of war, the safe return of captives, and just and lasting peace for the Holy Land. We spoke with Christian Calawa, a regular worshiper at the monastery, about a recent experience of prayer and fasting for peace in Gaza that he helped organize.

Can you describe for us the basic outline of the fast?

The week was a 5-day fast with a core group of people down in DC. Some people had to come and go, but there were five of us who went without food for five days. There were a lot of people who joined remotely, largely in New England and some outside of New England and the East Coast, who joined in prayer twice a day, on a Zoom meeting that was structured. It was all very interfaith. We went from spiritual breathing exercises in the Ayurvedic tradition, to Compline, to other forms of prayers. But a lot of this was born out of a feeling of helplessness, a feeling that this world is very big and a lot larger than we’re able to engage with meaningfully in the way that we want to, that feeling being one of paralysis, and acceptance, and trust and belief that prayer is meaningful action, that prayer is not a passive thing to a God who is absent, that our prayer and intercessions are real and worthy of time. This is way we can participate as members of the faith community. It largely ended up being Christian.

We had a couple different themes. We were down in DC, and we spent one day each in front of big DC institutions: the White House, the Capitol building, the Israeli embassy, the Holocaust Museum, the Washington National Cathedral. Each day, the prayer was pointed toward the institution we were sitting outside of. There was prayer for wisdom, prayer for peace, prayer not to be bound by the normal political order that would often be slow or ineffective or managerial, prayer for meaningful action. That included all different forms; we weren’t very prescriptive on what prayer meant or what we wanted it to mean. I think allowing space for people to pray for deliverance, for justice, for aid, things both practical and impractical, that ultimately the God who is sovereign over all of this would be in control, that good may come out of the seemingly endless darkness was surrounding a lot of this. Read More