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

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 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, 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

I pray Thee, compassionate Lord, do not allow me to be condemned because of the unworthy and ungrateful manner in which I contemplate the great mysteries that Thou hast revealed to Thy saints and through them to me, a sinner and Thy unworthy servant. For see, Lord, Thy servant stands before Thee, idle in everything, speechless, as one who is dead; and I do not dare to say anything more or to presumptuously contemplate further. But as always I fall down before Thee, crying from the depths of my soul. . . .

St. Peter of Damascus