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

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23 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

"My son, do not lose sight of these — keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul." (Proverbs 3:21,22a ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The man who endures accusations against himself with humility has arrived at perfection. He is marvelled at by the holy angels, for there is no other virtue so great and so hard to achieve.

St Isaac the Syrian