Deisis (Novogorod)

Patriarchs lament persecution of Middle East’s Christians

CWN - The Middle East’s Christians continue to suffer from severe persecution, the region’s Eastern Catholic patriarchs said in separate Christmas messages.

Maronite Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi warned that terrorists are “killing and displacing families and depriving them of their rights and dignities,” according to a CNS report. He called upon the UN to secure peace in the region and work for the return of Christian refugees to their homelands.

Because of their “faithfulness to Jesus the Savior,” Syrian and Iraqi Christians “endured the horrible consequences of war, violence, and all kind of persecutions,” said Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Yonan. “We have to keep hoping that the local government and international leaders will expel the terrorists and restore peace and security.”

The patriarch cited Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) by name as he praised the “many Catholic politicians in the West who would disagree with the official policy of their government in dealing with the plight of Christians in the Middle East.”

It is “quite evident that our people have been persecuted because of religious hatred and forgotten because of the political opportunism of the powerful of this world,” Patriarch Yonan added.

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham warned that “today in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity, the Christian presence is threatened ... by wars that have given rise to this terrifying exodus, especially of Christians.”

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Teachings of Christ

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" (Mark 8:34-37 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)

Annunciation

Today is the fountainhead of our salvation, * and the revelation of an eternal mystery: * The Son of God becomes the Son of a Virgin, * and Gabriel announces the good news of grace. * Therefore, let us also cry with him to the Mother of God: * "Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

To you, O Mother of God, our leader and defender, * we, your servants, delivered from calamity, offer hymns of victory and thanksgiving. * So you, who have invincible might, * set us free from every peril * that we may cry to you: * "Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!" (Kontakion, Tone 8)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you." (Proverbs 3:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

“We firmly believe that the Church will never fall, will never waiver and will not be destroyed. For this is what Christ taught, by Whom the heavens were established and the earth was founded, and stands firmly as the Holy Spirit says”. (Ps. 32:6) The Antichrist will lure to himself “those who have a weak and feeble mind, will seduce and will tear them away from the living God.”

St. John of Damascus, Oration on the Transfiguration of the Lord