Bkerkeh, Lebanon - A Muslim-Christian summit was held on 25 March 2012, the Feast of the Annunciation and coincidentally the name-day and election anniversary of Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai at Bkerkeh, the Maronite Patriarchal headquarters, in the presence of all religious leaders of the country and members of the Muslim-Christian steering committee for dialogue.

Patriarch Gregorios III attended, representing the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. He had marked the Feast of the Annunciation by celebrating the Divine Liturgy in the morning with the superior general of the Aleppine Fathers and priests in the monastery of the Aleppine Sisters at Zeraya.

The holding of the summit was of considerable significance for Lebanon and the region, as it brought together Muslims, Druze and Christians.

The spiritual leaders emphasised the importance of coexistence among Lebanese, a coexistence which should serve as a model for the region’s countries.

The Bkerkeh summit called for security, unity, and an end to the bloodshed in Syria. The religious leaders also appealed for dialogue as they denounced the prolongation of acts of violence. The summit emphasised the importance of dialogue in resolving differences, without however touching on details of political life, in Arab countries, especially in Syria.

The last such summit at Bkerkeh was held on 12 May 2011, when some 35 leaders took part, including Patriarch Beshara, Patriarch Gregorios III, Shaykh Al-Akl Naim Hassan of the Druze, and Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Muhammad Rashid Qabbani, who first suggested the idea of such a summit and who hosted a reciprocal summit at his residence of Dar al-Fatwa on September 27 2011.

With acknowledgements to L’Orient le jour http://www.lorientlejour.com/category/Derni%C3%A8res+Infos/article/750429/Sommet_spirituel,_le_25_mars,_a_Bkerke_pour_discuter_des_repercussions_de_la_crise_syrienne.html

Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple

Today is the prelude of the goodwill of God * and the heralding of the salvation of mankind; * the Virgin appears clearly in the temple of God * and foretells Christ to all. * Let us also with a mighty voice cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator’s divine plan.” (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.

The most pure Temple of the Savior, * the most precious Bridal-Chamber and Virgin, the sacred Treasury of the glory of God, * is brought today into the house of the Lord, * bringing with her the grace that is in the Divine Spirit. * The angels of God praise her in song: * “She is the heavenly tabernacle.” (Kontakion - Tone 4)

(November 21st)