On Sunday, 5 November 2017, a gunman entered a Baptist church in Sutherlands Springs, Texas, USA, when the service was underway, and opened fire on the parishioners. Twenty-six people died, including children, teenagers, elderly people and a pregnant woman. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill sent condolences to the U.S. President Donald Trump. The text of the message is given below.

His Excellency

Mr. Donald John Trump

President

United States of America

Your Excellency,

Dear Mr. President,

It grieved me deeply to learn about the tragedy that had occurred at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. I offer my sincere condolences to you and to all the American people.

The dreadful crime, which was committed on a Sunday, the day held sacred by Christians, and claimed the lives of dozens of innocent people, including defenseless elderly people, women and children, shocks by its devilish cruelty and guile. I am convinced that there is no justification whatsoever for such acts of violence.

Please convey my words of consolation and support to the families of the victims. I am praying that the Merciful God the Lover of Mankind comfort all those who sorrow and grant the soonest recovery to the injured.

Yours respectfully,

+KIRILL

PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA


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)

Encounter

Rejoice, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. * Rejoice also, you righteous Elder; * for you received in your arms the Deliverer of our souls, * Who has given us resurrection. (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.

O Christ God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin's womb; * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. * Now, having come, you saved us. * Give peace to Your commonwealth in times of war * and strengthen our civil authorities, whom You have loved, O You who alone loves mankind. (Kontakion, Tone 1)

(The Feast of the Encounter is February 2nd - the 40th Day of Christmas)

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

The work of prayer belongs to the angels, and is, therefore, the special concern of the Church. Every other work, i.e., charity, nursing the brethren, visiting the sick, caring for prisoners, releasing captives, and other similar things, is done by the brethren in love and offered by them to God. Similarly, poverty, fasting, sleeping on the ground, prostrations, vigils, etc., are good and like a sacrifice to God, because they aim to subdue and humble the body so that we may be purified and approach God and become friends of God -- yet these things do not present us directly to God, whereas prayer does so and unites us with Him. A person praying acts towards God like a friend -- conversing, confiding, requesting -- and through this becomes one with our Maker Himself.

St. Symeon of Thessalonica