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

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 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

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Wrath is a reminder of hidden hatred, that is to say, remembrance of wrongs. Wrath is a desire for the injury of the one who has provoked you. Irascibility is the untimely blazing up of the heart. Bitterness is a movement of displeasure seated in the soul. Anger is an easily changeable movement of one’s disposition and disfiguration of soul.

St. John Climacus, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent"