Damascus, 2 June 2012

In the ancient Eastern tradition of the Church, after Pentecost in June is observed the Fast (or period of abstinence) of the Twelve Apostles, chief among whom are Peter and Paul, whom the Church in East and West alike commemorates on 29 June.

This fast (or period of abstinence) begins this year on Monday June 4 and ends on June 28.

We issued a call to fasting and prayer at the beginning of the tragic, bloody events experienced by our dear country, Syria.

Now after the escalation of violence, especially the widespread series of assassinations and kidnappings for ransom that has affected a great many members of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and others, especially in Homs, we ask all the children of our patriarchal Eparchy of Damascus to keep the fast as much as possible and say special prayers every day at home and in church if possible, as many have already done during the Marian month.        

This is our response to the painful events that have caused weeping and heartbreak, implanting terrifying images in the souls of the elderly and young and provoking hatred and vengeance.

We remember all the slain of every place and religion, praying that they may rest in peace.       

We pray too for the wounded in hospital and for the bereaved and doubting, for the fearful, for refugees and those in distress.

We are sending this letter to all clergy and parishioners to inform them of this initiative. We suggest the following petitions to accompany our prayer, fasting and abstinence:

For all Christians, that their hearts may be confirmed in true faith and kept from false doctrines, that they may be united in Thy Church, and be children of the light and of the day, we beseech Thee, O Lord.

For leaders and members of Parliament, that they may be enlightened, and follow the ways of understanding, compassion and effectual co-operation, in order to improve social situations, let us pray to the Lord.  

Grant to all the inhabitants of this country faith and love, that their hearts may be confirmed in understanding and peace, we beseech Thee, O Lord.

For all Christians who are sad and in need of thy compassion and help, that Thou mayst be for them, O Christ, a God of goodness, comfort and healing, we pray Thee, O Lord.     

We request that these litanies be sung during church services and also in homes during family prayers, as well as in meetings of confraternities and various movements, so as to accompany the situation in our country with prayer, hope and optimism, for God protects Syria, as he is God of peace.

May he restore peace, brotherly love and mutual assistance in Syria in all its regions and among all its citizens.

With my love, blessing and prayer,

+ Gregorios III
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch
Of Antioch and All the East,
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem