Zenit.org - Pope Francis visited Rome’s Greek-Catholic Community of Ukrainians today at the Basilica of St. Sophia on Via Boccea, northwest of Rome, Jan. 28, 2018.

Pope St John Paul II visited St. Sophia in Rome in 1984, to pay homage to the tomb of Cardinal Josyp Slipyi, the Head of the Greek Catholic Community of Ukraine who was harshly persecuted under the Soviet regime, including 18 years in prison, before eventually being freed. Blessed Pope Paul VI was there, previously in 1969, for the consecration of the Basilica, the initiative of Cardinal Slipyi.

The Pope arrived around 4 p.m., after having celebrated Mass this morning at Rome’s Marian Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, and after having his traditional noon Angelus.

Jumbotrons were set up outside the church transmitting coverage to the faithful unable to be inside. Faithful welcomed the Pope with Ukrainian Christmas songs because for Greek-Catholic Ukrainians, following the Julian calendar, it is still Christmastime, since the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is February 18.

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Teachings of Christ

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 ESV)

Protection of the Mother of God

Protected by your coming, O Mother of God, * the faithful people celebrate today with splendor, * and, gazing at your most pure image, * we say with compunction: * "Shield us with your precious veil * and deliver us from all evil * imploring your Son, Christ our God, to save our souls.” (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 stands forth in the Church, * and with the choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us. * The Angels worship with the hierarchs, * and the apostles exult with the prophets, * because, in our behalf, the Mother of God entreats the pre-eternal God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st.

Random Proverb

"Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live." (Proverbs 4:4 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