Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate
Ain Traz, Aley, Lebanon

December 2017
Good Wishes for Christmas
and the New Year 2018

Dear Friends

This year’s festive greetings are inspired by my pilgrim visit to the Holy Land in October 2017, after a seventeen-year absence and twenty-six-year service.

You were in my prayers, especially at the Church of the Resurrection and that of the Nativity at Bethlehem and in the other holy places that I visited.

My prayer for you is one of thanks to the Saviour and to you, because you have been my companions along my priestly, episcopal and patriarchal road, through your love, generosity and friendship. Those were fruitful years of service, with projects to the glory of God and for the welfare of my sons and daughters! In reflecting on the course of my priestly, episcopal and patriarchal life (lasting fifty-eight years) I have discovered that projects occurred annually, meaning that there were altogether fifty-eight such!

Thanks to the Saviour and to you for this abundant harvest. God and your love have filled my life with fruitfulness and dedication.

With these feelings, I wish you a Merry Christmas, after my retirement from patriarchal service! Please continue to accompany me with your prayers and love.

I repeat my favourite saying: I love you!

Merry Christmas!
Happy and Holy 2018!

+Gregorios III
Patriarch of Love, Reconciliation and Peace!


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)

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

"The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin." (Proverbs 10:10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The soul has followed Moses and the cloud, both of these serving as guides for those who would advance in virtue; Moses here represents the commandments of the Law; and the cloud that leads the way, its spiritual meaning. The soul has been purified by crossing the Sea; it has removed from itself and destroyed the enemy army. It has tasted of the waters of Marah, that is, of life deprived of all sinful pleasure; and this at first had seemed bitter and unpleasant to the taste but offered a sensation of sweetness to those who accepted the wood. Next it enjoyed the beauty of the palm trees of the gospel and the springs; it filled itself with the living water, that is, the rock. It took within itself the bread of heaven. It overwhelmed the foreign host - a victory due to the extended arms of the Lawgiver, which thus foreshadowed the mystery of the Cross. Only then can the soul go on to the contemplation of transcendent Being.

St. Gregory of Nyssa