Rabweh, Lebanon - The Holy Synod opened in Rabweh under the presidency of His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios III. Present were some thirty bishops and exarchs from eparchies in Arab countries and other countries throughout the world: Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Holy Land, Israel, Egypt and Sudan and Canada, the USA, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, and Australia and New Zealand, together with some retired bishops.

His Beatitude's opening address focused on Saint Paul and his significance in the life of the Church.

Practical issues for discussion by the Holy Synod included: the question of whether to divide the Eparchy of Beirut into two - in the event, it was decided not to do this - and how to help the Eparchy of Tripoli prepare for the imminent retirement of its bishop.

Other questions concerned: the regulation of the Holy Synod itself with its bye-laws as well as that of the Permanent Synod (Synodos Endimousa;) the scope of the work of the General Moderator for the Administration of Justice for the Patriarchate, including his duties and prerogatives; the management of transition within eparchies upon the retirement at seventy-five years of age of their bishops.

In view of the forthcoming Papal Proclamation of the Year of the Priest, to take place on 19 June, the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of Saint Jean Marie Vianney, Curé d'Ars, the Synod considered the role of the Seminary of Saint Anna, Rabweh, and appointed a committee to prepare a programme of events to highlight the role and mission of the clergy.

The Synod considered the importance of peace, especially for Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq and, meeting on the eve of the elections in Lebanon, prayed for a good outcome for all its people.

V. C.


Joachim and Anna Rejoice

Today the bonds of childlessness are loosed, * for God has heard Joachim and Anna * and He promises manifestly that they, against all hope, would give birth to the Maiden of God * from whom the Uncircumscribed One Himself would be born, becoming man, * and he commanded the Angels to cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (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 whole world celebrates * the conception of Anne which was brought about by God, * for she gave birth to the one who, beyond understanding, * gave birth to the Word. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (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.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)