CWN - As an international military offensive moves toward Mosul, liberating towns from the hold of the Islamic State, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako has visited towns on the Nineveh Plains, and seen the destruction and desecration of Christian churches.

The Chaldean prelate said that he is hopeful Christian refugees who fled from the Islamic State will soon return to their homes in the region—which he described as “our holy land.” He said that religious leaders of all denominations should join in building a “culture of peace and harmonious coexistence.”

Speaking from New York, another Iraqi prelate said that it may take a year before Christians are able to settle once again into their old homes in and around Mosul. Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that refugees will face enormous challenges as they labor to rebuild their communities.

Archbishop Warda said that in his own archdiocese, about 80% of the Christian population want to remain, despite the threats to their security. But he vowed that even if many more families leave, the Church will continue to serve those who remains, and “there will always be Christians in Iraq.”

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Teachings of Christ

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)

Theophany

When You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (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.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Why do you trouble yourself in a house that is not your own? Let the sight of a dead man be a teacher for you concerning your departure from hence.

St. Isaac the Syrian