VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father welcomed a delegation sent to Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul by His Holiness Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople. An ecumenical delegation traditionally visits Rome for the 29 June feast, while a delegation from Rome attends celebrations in Istanbul for the 30 November Feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

This year the delegation was made up of Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, director of the office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union; Bishop Athenagoras of Sinope, assistant to the Metropolitan of Belgium, and Deacon Ioakim Billis of Fanar.

Greeting them the Pope gave thanks to God "for all the fruits and benefits brought by the celebration of the bi-millennium of the birth of St. Paul". Together, he said, we will celebrate "the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the 'protothroni' of the Apostles as they are known in Orthodox tradition, in other words those who hold first place among the Apostles and are called 'masters of ecumenism'".

"With your presence here", the Holy Father went on, "which is a sign of ecclesiastical fraternity, you remind us of our shared commitment to achieve full communion. You already know, but I wish to reaffirm, that the Catholic Church seeks to contribute in every possible way to the re-establishment of full unity, thus responding to the will of Christ for His disciples and recalling Paul's own teaching which tells us that we are called to be 'a single hope'".

In this context the Holy Father spoke of his "confidence in the progress of the activities" of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox. The commission is due to meet in October "to examine a crucial aspect of relations between East and West: the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church during the first millennium".

"Such study", he continued, "is an indispensable step towards gaining a deeper understanding of this question in the current context of the search for full communion". Benedict XVI also pointed out that the commission will be received by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus which he thanked for its "fraternal welcome ... which will facilitate our task and our mutual understanding".

"I wish participants in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue to be aware that my prayers accompany them always and that such dialogue enjoys the support of the Catholic Church", concluded the Holy Father. "It is my heartfelt wish that the fraternal misunderstandings and tensions that arose among Orthodox delegates during recent plenary sessions of the commission be overcome in fraternal love, so this dialogue may more broadly represent Orthodoxy".

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Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9 ESV)

Theophany

At Your baptism 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 truth 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)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (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 gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

If God is slow in answering your request, and you ask but do not promptly receive anything, do not be upset, for you are not wiser than God. When you remain as you were before, without anything happening, it is either because your behaviour is not worthy of your request, or because the paths in which your heart was travelling were far removed from the aim of your prayer, or because your interior condition is far too childish, when compared with the magnitude of the thing for which you have asked.

St. Isaac of Nineveh [Syria], The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life.