Moscow, August 30, Interfax - Intensifying relations between Moscow and Vatican are dictated by certain troublesome trends in the church world, former Russia's representative to the Holy See Vyacheslav Kostikov believes.

"Despite of Vatican's enormous authority, positions of Christianity in Europe are weakening: though there are about 2 billion Christians in the world (1 billion of them are Catholics), churches are getting empty and closed, while Islam is strengthening its presence and influence in the world (1.5 billion) and in Europe," he writes in his article published on Wednesday in Argumenty i Fakty weekly.

Besides, Kostikov believes "recent statement made by Erdogan negatively impressed Europe as he said that Turkish electorate should defeat those politicians who "oppose Muslims in Berlin." The author is sure that the Turkish Muslim community in Germany is an important destabilizing factor in political and religious life, while Muslim families that have already settled in Europe are much more active in "birth-giving activities" than Europeans.

"In changing conditions relations between Catholics and Orthodox, and especially between Vatican and Moscow focus on protecting shared Christian space rather than on their disputes," Kostikov said.

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)

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)

Random Proverb

"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want." (Proverbs 11:24 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying: "If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new" (2Cor. 5:17).

The Homilies of St. Gregory the Great On the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel