CWN - Pope Francis arrived in Georgia on September 30 to begin a three-day visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan, telling Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II that he came "as a pilgrim and a friend."

In his public remarks on his first day in Georgia, the Pontiff emphasized the importance of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect, calling for friendly relations across ethnic and religious lines.

"Peaceful coexistence among all people and states in the region is the indispensable and prior condition for authentic and enduring progress," the Pope said in an address to Georgia's political leaders. Although he did not allude directly to Georgia's contentious border dispute with Russia, he did affirm the sovereignty of the country, and mentioned Georgia's distinct status as a "natural bridge between Europe and Asia, a link that facilitates communication and relations among people."

Later in the day, meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch Ilia, the Pope again spoke of peace and reconciliation, referring to the gradual warming of the formerly distant relations between the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Holy See. He praised the elderly Georgian prelate for making "the first historic visit of a Georgian Patriarch to the Vatican," to meet with Pope John Paul II in 1980.

Speaking to Orthodox clerics, the Pope said that in a divided world, it is essential for Christians to intensify "our commitment to the bonds which exist between us." He reminded them that "we are called to overcome our true enemies, who are not of flesh and blood, but rather the evil spirits from without and from within ourselves."

On Friday evening, the Pope concluded his public schedule for the day by visiting the Chaldean Catholic Church of St. Simon, to pray particularly for peace and welfare among the Chaldean faithful—those still living in their ancestral home in Iraq and the many others in the diaspora.

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Teachings of Christ

“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (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.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

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

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)