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)

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

"Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you." (Proverbs 3:28 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility. Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness.

St. John of the Ladder