Moscow, Mar. 5, 2007 (CWNews.com) - The chief ecumenical-affairs officer for the Russian Orthodox Church has remarked on a positive trend in relations between Moscow and Rome.

Speaking to the Interfax news service, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk said that “positive changes” in dealings with the Vatican had occurred during the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

One significant source of improvement in relations, the Russian prelate said, came from the fact that Pope Benedict had “removed a Moscow visit from the agenda, as he understood that such a visit would be premature.” Pope John Paul II (bio - news) had frequently expressed his desire to make a visit to Moscow.

Under Pope Benedict, said Metropolitan Kirill, the Holy See has concentrated on “cooperation between the Catholic Church and ours in defending Christian values,” particularly in calling for a moral renewal in Europe. The Russian Orthodox Church can fully endorse those plans, he said, without necessarily resolving other questions on which Moscow and Rome remain at odds.

Differences do remain, Kirill told Interfax, including some “major ones.” He complained that Catholics and Orthodox remain in conflict in the western Ukraine, for example. “Not everything goes easy,” the Russian spokesman concluded.


Teachings of Christ

“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 ESV)

Protection of the Mother of God

Protected by your coming, O Mother of God, * the faithful people celebrate today with splendor, * and, gazing at your most pure image, * we say with compunction: * "Shield us with your precious veil * and deliver us from all evil * imploring your Son, Christ our God, to save our souls.” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin stands forth in the Church, * and with the choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us. * The Angels worship with the hierarchs, * and the apostles exult with the prophets, * because, in our behalf, the Mother of God entreats the pre-eternal God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st.

Random Proverb

"Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching." (Proverbs 4:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Adam, before the fall ... participated in ... divine illumination and resplendence, and because he was truly clothed in a garment of glory he was not naked, nor was he unseemly by reason of his nakedness. He was far more richly adorned than those who now deck themselves out with diadems of gold and brightly sparkling jewels. St. Paul calls this divine illumination and grace our celestial dwelling when he says, 'For this we sigh, yearning to be clothed in our heavenly habitation, since clothed we will not be found naked' (2 Cor. 5:2).

St. Gregory Palamas (Topics of Natural and Theological Science no. 67, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 377)