VATICAN CITY, 9 MAY 2009 ( VIS ) - This evening in the Greek-Melkite cathedral of St. George, the Holy Father celebrated Vespers with priests, religious and faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches (Maronites, Syriacs, Armenians, Chaldeans and Latins). Also present was Archbishop Benediktos Tsikoras of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Following greetings from Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III Laham and his vicar, Archbishop Yasser Ayyach, Benedict XVI addressed some words to those present.

"The Church herself is a pilgrim people", he said, "and thus, through the centuries, has been marked by determinant historical events and pervading cultural epochs. Sadly, some of these have included times of theological dispute or periods of repression. Others, however, have been moments of reconciliation - marvellously strengthening the communion of the Church - and times of rich cultural revival, to which Eastern Christians have contributed so greatly".

"All Christians are called to respond actively to the Lord's mandate, ... to bring others to know and love Him. In fact the vicissitudes of history have strengthened the members of particular Churches to embrace this task with vigour and to engage resolutely with the pastoral realities of today".

Recalling then how many Eastern Churches trace ancient links to the Patriarchate of Antioch, and are thus deeply rooted in the Near East, Benedict XVI recalled how "also today, as small minorities in scattered communities across these lands, you are recognised as followers of the Lord. The public face of your Christian faith is certainly not restricted to the spiritual solicitude you bear for one another and your people, essential though that is. Rather, your many works of universal charity extend to all Jordanians - Muslims and those of other religions - and also to the large numbers of refugees whom this Kingdom so generously welcomes".

"Your liturgies, ecclesiastical discipline and spiritual heritage are a living witness to your unfolding tradition", said the Holy Father. "Imitating Christ and the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets, we set out to lead people from the desert towards the place of life, towards the Lord Who gives us life in abundance.

"This", he added, "marks all your apostolic works, the variety and calibre of which are greatly appreciated. ... Your presence in this society is a marvellous sign of the hope that defines us as Christian. That hope reaches far beyond the confines of our own Christian communities. So often you find that the families of other religions, with whom you work and offer your service of universal charity, hold concerns and worries that cross religious and cultural boundaries.

"This is especially noticeable in regard to the hopes and aspirations of parents for their children", the Pope proceeded, asking: "What parent or person of good will could not be troubled by the negative influences so pervasive in our globalised world, including the destructive elements within the entertainment industry which so callously exploit the innocence and sensibility of the vulnerable and the young?"

Finally the Holy Father addressed words of encouragement to candidates preparing for the priesthood or the religious life, and to all young Jordanian Christians: "Do not be afraid to make your own wise, measured and respectful contribution to the public life of the Kingdom. The authentic voice of faith will always bring integrity, justice, compassion and peace!"

PV-JORDAN/VESPERS/...

Teachings of Christ

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin." (Proverbs 10:10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The work of prayer belongs to the angels, and is, therefore, the special concern of the Church. Every other work, i.e., charity, nursing the brethren, visiting the sick, caring for prisoners, releasing captives, and other similar things, is done by the brethren in love and offered by them to God. Similarly, poverty, fasting, sleeping on the ground, prostrations, vigils, etc., are good and like a sacrifice to God, because they aim to subdue and humble the body so that we may be purified and approach God and become friends of God -- yet these things do not present us directly to God, whereas prayer does so and unites us with Him. A person praying acts towards God like a friend -- conversing, confiding, requesting -- and through this becomes one with our Maker Himself.

St. Symeon of Thessalonica