By Doreen Abi Raad
Catholic News Service

BEIRUIT (CNS) -- Syrian-born Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham warned against armed intervention in his country, saying, "It has brought us to the tragedy we are now living in Syria."

Speaking to Catholic News Service by phone Aug. 27 from the patriarchal summer residence in Ain Traz, Lebanon, the patriarch said such a step "would be a tragedy, a tragedy, a tragedy -- for the whole country and the whole Middle East."

"Enough with the intervention," he said.

"It is fueling hatred, fueling criminality, fueling inhumanity, fueling fundamentalism, terrorism -- all these things are the fruit of intervention. Enough!"

"Surely, it will spread like a world war," he said.

The patriarch lamented the U.S. decision to postpone again a meeting with Russia aimed at preparing for a peace conference on Syria.

"The Holy Father was very clear on Aug. 25," the patriarch said, referring to Pope Francis' call for peace in Syria during the Sunday Angelus, when the pontiff said, "It is not clashes, but an ability to meet and to dialogue that offers prospects for a hope of resolving the problems."

"This is the real voice to be heard, and not the voice of weapons and interventions and of warships," Patriarch Laham said.

"Instead of trying to change the (Syrian) government, help the government to change. We are all for change. We are all for reforms. But not in this way, with blood."

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Teachings of Christ

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30 ESV)

Encounter

Rejoice, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. * Rejoice also, you righteous Elder; * for you received in your arms the Deliverer of our souls, * Who has given us resurrection. (Troparion, Tone 1)

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

O Christ God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin's womb; * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. * Now, having come, you saved us. * Give peace to Your commonwealth in times of war * and strengthen our civil authorities, whom You have loved, O You who alone loves mankind. (Kontakion, Tone 1)

(The Feast of the Encounter is February 2nd - the 40th Day of Christmas)

Random Proverb

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

"God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. Hence, if we feel in our hearts the cold which comes from the evil - for the devil is cold - let us call on the Lord. He will come to warm our hearts with perfect love, not only for Him but also for our neighbor, and the cold of him who hates the good will flee before the heat of His countenance."

St. Seraphim of Sarov