CWNews.com - Pope Benedict XVI said that he would encourage the Christians living in the Middle East “to keep the faith and, despite numerous sacrifices, stay in the land were they were born.” He urged the Christians who had emigrated from the region “not to forget their origins, especially their religious origions.”

The Holy Father made these remarks in a June 25 talk to representatives of the Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO). He thanked the group for helping to maintain the Christian presence in the region, as well as for help in preparing for the October meeting of the Synod for the Middle East.

The Pope drew attention in his remarks to the “Christians who suffer violence because of the Gospel,” especially in the Middle East. He said that world leaders have a duty to promote the rights of religious minorities and the security of all believers.

 

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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)