CWN - The patriarchs of four Eastern churches, Catholic and Orthodox, have joined in an appeal for Christians not to leave Syria during the current crisis.

"With all my heart we ask the Christians of Syria not to leave our beloved country, despite the violence, the suffering, the displacement,” the patriarchs said. The message, released through the Fides news agency, was timed to coincide with the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in Lebanon. The appeal was signed by Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham; Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignatius III Younan; Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Zakka I Iwas; and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim. All four prelates have their headquarters in Damascus.

"Be patient, do not run away," the patriarchs implore their people. Acknowledging the dangers that Christians are suffering in Syria today, they recognize the “temptation” to leave the country, but ask the faithful to bear the pain.

If Christians continue to leave Syria, the prelates argue, the country’s conflict could spill over into Lebanon (where most refugees have sought shelter). Meanwhile, they warn, Syria could follow the pattern of Iraq, where strong pressure from Islamic militants has greatly diminished the historic Christian presence.

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Teachings of Christ

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33 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

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

First of all it must be understood that it is the duty of all Christians - especially of those whose calling dedicates them to the spiritual life - to strive always and in every way to be united with God, their creator, lover, benefactor, and their supreme good, by Whom and for Whom they were created. This is because the center and the final purpose of the soul, which God created, must be God Himself alone, and nothing else - God whom Whom the soul has received its life and its nature, and for Whom it must eternally live.

St. Dimitry of Rostov