Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "That the Year of Faith may be for Syria the Year of Reconciliation is the hope of Christians and all the Syrian people," is what the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, Gregorios III, now in the Vatican to attend the Synod on the New Evangelization declares in an interview with Fides, on the eve of the opening of the Year of Faith. "We Christians in the Middle East,” explains Gregorios III, head of the Greek Catholic community which in Syria has over 150 thousand faithful – “feel an integral part of the Arab world and in this moment of difficulty, problems and fear, we have greater need to strengthen our faith, to be bearers of the Gospel. The presentation of the values of faith, made in the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente is very important: it is up to us to make this our heritage – constituted by religious freedom, coexistence, citizenship, rights, solidarity and love. We Christians have always played a key role in the Middle East in culture, art, education and social work, and intend to continue to be leaven in society." The proposal of reconciliation in Syria is a direct expression of faith, for the Patriarch. "Reconciliation,” he warns, “is the only possible way forward: otherwise Syria heads towards death. In the ongoing conflict in Syria, chaos prevails and there are no appropriate answers. No one has any: neither the government nor the opposition, nor even the international community. We are in the dark and, in this situation, faith is the answer and reconciliation is our proposal." In such a state of political stalemate, the Patriarch supports the proposal of a "new diplomatic initiative to implement the Pope's appeals", released yesterday by Fides Agency, by Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Metropolitan Syrian Orthodox of Aleppo. "We welcome any initiative that promotes reconciliation: the word reconciliation,” notes Gregorios III, “has been a constant, it has always been present in every even small intervention of the Holy Father in his last trip to Lebanon. Reconciliation is the lifeline for Syria and the future of Christians who, as St. Paul says, are 'all things to all men.’ The Church is not for or against the regime, but it is a community that wants to give a testimony of love and wants to save Syria." The Melkite Patriarch refers, finally, his own special initiative: "I asked the President of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman, to send the Holy Father’s speeches, from the recent trip to Lebanon, to the leaders of the Arab world as a message of peace and coexistence that radiates from Lebanon throughout the Middle East. This is the response to the Arab revolutions. And the president has welcomed my proposal." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 09/10/2012)

Adapted from  and with acknowledgments to: http://www.news.va/en/news/asiasyria-patriarch-gregory-iii-may-the-year-of-fa


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)