Protocol 413/2013 D
Damascus, 1 September 2013

Just before the Angelus of 1 September, His Holiness Pope Francis announced his decision to proclaim next Saturday, 7 September, “the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world.” The Holy Father invited “each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.” He also condemned the use of chemical weapons, calling on us all to get involved in working for peace.

As President of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria (ACHS), and Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, we call upon all our faithful sons and daughters to join in this day of fasting and prayer. We ask for services to be held in all parishes – according to the situation and conditions specific to each. Let these services and celebrations be held in union with the Holy Father, who from 7 p.m. until midnight will be in St Peter’s Square “in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world.”

We call upon all our priests to open their churches during that period to pray with any parishioners who manage to come. This vigil will be marked by the celebration of Vespers and Matins with a time of prayer and meditation. The prayer uttered by Blessed John Paul II at Quneitra on 1 May 2001 should also be recited. We also suggest reading Pope Francis’ remarks of 25 August and 1 September as well as our own statements and appeals for peace.

The collections taken during this prayer vigil and the next day, Sunday, will be entirely for the benefit of Syria’s crisis victims in need and distress.

With the Holy Father, we ask “Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”

Gregorios III
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
President of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate
Of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem


Teachings of Christ

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple

Today is the prelude of the goodwill of God * and the heralding of the salvation of mankind; * the Virgin appears clearly in the temple of God * and foretells Christ to all. * Let us also with a mighty voice cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator’s divine plan.” (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.

The most pure Temple of the Savior, * the most precious Bridal-Chamber and Virgin, the sacred Treasury of the glory of God, * is brought today into the house of the Lord, * bringing with her the grace that is in the Divine Spirit. * The angels of God praise her in song: * “She is the heavenly tabernacle.” (Kontakion - Tone 4)

(November 21st)

Random Proverb

"My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live." (Proverbs 7:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The man who endures accusations against himself with humility has arrived at perfection. He is marvelled at by the holy angels, for there is no other virtue so great and so hard to achieve.

St Isaac the Syrian