Annual Ecumenical Christmas Meeting

On 17 December, the annual Ecumenical Meeting of patriarchs, bishops, priests, monks and nuns of all denominations was held at the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Damascus: one hundred and twenty persons were present.

After a meditation, Patriarch Gregorios III (who was in fact the only patriarch present) invited all the bishops there to speak to the assembly about Christmas and the current situation. The meeting concluded with prayers for the sixth hour and chants in various liturgical languages.

All were then invited by His Beatitude to an agape meal for Christmas.

Aid to victims’ families

On 18 December Patriarch Gregorios III went to St. Joseph’s Church for a series of meetings.

He honoured the memory of the martyrs from the regions of Damascus, Homs and the Hauran and greeted relatives of sixty-seven victims. His Beatitude then led a prayer service and later presented the relatives with gifts from Aid to the Church in Need.

His Beatitude later met 185 children from Ma’alula and gave them a gift of money.

His Beatitude also met 800 children from the local parish.

Through Aid to the Church in Need and Caritas Poland some three hundred and twenty families of victims and about 5000 children from the regions of Damascus, Homs and the Hauran will be receiving aid.

On 19 December Patriarch Gregorios III met some fifteen handicapped persons at the Patriarchate in Damascus.

Thanks are due to ACN and Caritas Poland from the Christians of Syria, and we are hoping that Christmas may bring peace, joy and love to the hearts of Syria’s people and to their children.

Notes by telephone from Patriarch Gregorios III:

V.C.


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)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (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.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

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

Seek, my child, the nobility of the soul, for it is truth; that of the body is false. Do not seek honor from men, for this injures one; but rather, seek heavenly glory . . . . You are to be sympathetic with all the brethren and help them as much as possible; and, you are to minister to them that are unable or weak. Do not desire to live by another's labors . . . . Never ridicule anyone, and especially when they are in misfortune. When you hear that a certain brother is disorderly, supplicate God to correct his life. Visit and help the sick, and serve the brethren as their servant; so you might be a friend of Christ Who, for your sake, became a servant and minister. Always heed, my child, not to fall into temptations. However, if it happens that you should fall, immediately rise up and amend yourself with repentance, and again hasten to prayer. In this manner, live your life, my child, and God shall always come to you and help you in soul and body.

St. Theodora of Alexandria, "The Lives of the Spiritual Mothers: An Orthodox Materikon of Women Monastics and Ascetics