VATICAN CITY, DEC 15, 2006 (VIS) - Today, Benedict XVI received His Beatitude Antonios Naguib Patriarch of Alexandria for Catholic Copts who is officially visiting the Holy See for the first time since his election in March of this year.

In his French address, the Pope asked the patriarch to give his greetings to all the bishops, priests, and faithful of his patriarchy, as well as to Cardinal Stephanos II Ghattas, Patriarch Emeritus of Alexandria.

"The communion in Christ that unites us and all Catholics around the Successor of Peter is best seen in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy," said the Holy Father.

While recalling that the seat of Alexandria was the "first patriarchy after Rome" during the first five centuries of Christianity, Benedict XVI emphasized that its patriarchal community is the "bearer of a rich spiritual, liturgical, and theological tradition - the Alexandrian tradition -, whose treasures form part of the Church's patrimony". He assured the patriarch of his prayers and support in the "special duty that the ecumenical Second Vatican Council entrusted to the Eastern Catholic Churches: "to make progress toward the unity of all Christians, above all Eastern Christians".

he Patriarch of Alexandria for Catholic Copts also has "an important role in interreligious dialogue to develop fraternity and respect among Christians and Muslims". The Pope also invited His Beatitude to "continue encouraging the theological and spiritual pursuit of his tradition".

In today's world, your mission is of great importance for the faithful and for all human persons", the Holy Father said, praising the attention the patriarch has given to the "human, spiritual, moral, and intellectual education of youth through a network of quality schools and catechesis that constitute a service to the entire society".

Referring to the formation of priests the Pope underlined that "the vitality of Christian communities in the world today needs pastors (...) who are truly witnesses to the Word of God and guides to help the faithful be always more deeply rooted in the life and the mission of Christ".

I know well what place consecrated life occupies in the Church, " concluded the Holy Father. "May poverty, chastity, and obedience, lived in accordance with the gospel message, be a witness and a call to holiness for today's world!"

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)

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." (Proverbs 6:6-8 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

According to the text, `We are the body of Christ and each of us is one of its members' (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27), we are said to be the body of Christ. We do not become this body through the loss of our own bodies; nor again because Christ's Body passes into us hypostatically or is divided into members; but rather because we conform to the likeness of the Lord's flesh by shaking off the corruption of sin. For just as Christ in His manhood was sinless by nature both in flesh and in soul, so we too who believe in Him, and have clothed ourselves in Him through the Spirit, can be without sin to Him if we so choose.

St. Maximus the Confessor, Second Century on Theology, Philokalia, V. 2