CWN - In a letter to Pope Francis on the occasion of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople reflected on the martyrdom of the apostles and the persecution of Christians today.

“The Church, throughout her history, during different epochs and times, has been persecuted; however, the blood of her martyrs was a source of strength in faith and a witness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said in his June 29 letter. “As the Bride of Christ, the Church, is still called to martyria today, as it faces new forms of persecution and oppression.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch, who holds a primacy of honor in Eastern Orthodoxy, continued:

Over the last few years, we have witnessed with great sorrow the attacks targeting Christians and their places of worship. Our sister Churches stand in solidarity with all persecuted and oppressed Christians of our times, and at this very moment, we call to remembrance those who are in mines, in exile, in harsh labor, and those in every kind of affliction, oppression, necessity, or distress.

The Ecumenical Patriarch also expressed the conviction that “our common witness before the numerous challenges of our contemporary world constitutes a positive testimony for the Church of Christ and for bringing us closer to unity.”

 

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Teachings of Christ

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 ESV)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (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.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11,12 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil's provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour's mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord's fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour's own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out'; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' - with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil - and I will give you rest.'

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ