CWN - The Eastern Catholic churches “should be kept and preserved” through current crises, Pope Francis said in a June 22 address to the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO).

In his address the Holy Father observed that the Eastern Catholic churches have endured “terrible waves of persecution and suffering, both in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.” The churches of Eastern Europe have been freed from oppression under Communism, he observed, but in the Middle East—and particularly in Syria, Iraq, and Egypt—Christians still “suffer as a result of the ongoing war and the senseless violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism.”

The Pope thanked ROACO for its support for the Eastern churches, saying that the survival of these Christian communities is “encouraging pilgrimage to the roots of the faith.” He remarked that in many countries, “Christians—be they Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestant—shed their blood as a seal of their witness.”

Pope Francis also made the observation that immigration has weakened the Christian presence “in the territories where they had flourished for centuries.” He offered the hope that Christians, “if forced to emigrate, be welcomed in the places where they arrive, and continue to live according to their own ecclesial tradition.”

Reflecting on the topic for discussion at the ROACO meeting—the formation of candidates for the priesthood—the Pope said that the Church recognizes “the radical nature of the choice expressed by many of them, and the heroism of their testimony of dedication alongside their often sorely tried communities.”

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Teachings of Christ

“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 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

"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

Do all in your power not to fall, for the strong athlete should not fall. But if you do fall, get up again at once and continue the contest. Even if you fall a thousand times because of the withdrawal of God's grace, rise up again each time, and keep on doing this until the day of your death. For it is written, 'If a righteous man falls down seven times' - that is, repeatedly throughout his life - 'seven times shall he rise again' [Prov. 24:16].

John of Karpathos