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

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 ESV)

Pentecost

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

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

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

"Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you." (Proverbs 3:28 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Our distresses are notorious, even though we leave them untold, for now their sound has gone out into all the world. The doctrines of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set at nought; the devices of innovators are in vogue in the Churches; now men are rather contrivers of cunning systems than theologians; the wisdom of this world wins the highest prizes and has rejected the glory of the cross. Shepherds are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived. All this is enough to stir the pity of men who have learnt the love of Christ; but, compared with the actual state of things, words fall very far short....

Saint Basil the Great
(Letter 90)