Patriarch GergoriosIIIDamascus - “Holy Father, be our Saint Simon of Cyrene on the Way of the Cross!” was the appeal made by His Beatitude Gregorios III, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, in an open letter to Pope Francis. In this very personally expressed message, dated 29 March, Holy Friday, when the Pope celebrated the first Way of the Cross of his pontificate, Gregorios III outlined the “violence, terror, chaos and death” ravaging Syria.

Patriarch Gregorios III says he addressed to the pope “a plaintive and affectionate cry, as much as to say: come to the aid of Syria, which cannot bear such a long Way of the Cross.  It needs resurrection …through reconciliation and dialogue, to bring to an end the crisis that is destroying thousands upon thousands of Christians and non-Christians.”  He made a real call for help, admitting that he was expecting “a gesture, an initiative, a roadmap” from the Holy Father.

“We are expecting an initiative, a gesture and a word”
The Patriarch of Antioch and All the East exhorted “the Vatican, as a State, Pope Francis, personally and the Catholic Church, by way of the Episcopal Conferences”  to launch a joint appeal to save Syria.

“We are not afraid of Muslims,” he explains, “but we are afraid of chaos taking root in the Middle East. Syria has become a highly lucrative market-place for interested parties, while every aspect of democracy, freedom and secularism has been lost. Nowadays,” laments His Beatitude Gregorios III, “no-one cares about that.”

Daily kidnappings, acts of violence and killings
Last Sunday, in his Easter Urbi et Orbi message, the pope urged peace in the Middle East and “above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.  How much blood has been shed!” declared Pope Francis, “And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?”

The Patriarch of Antioch and All the East emphasised the joy awakened by these words from the pope which made headlines in all the papers. He said something “quite precise and concise, that made complete sense and touched the hearts of all Syrian citizens. We need someone from the Catholic Church calling stop; enough fighting. Every day we have new abductions and killings. Where are we going? People can’t take any more. That precisely why I made this appeal,” explains Gregorios III, “for the Catholic Church to be in the front line for saving Syria.”

•    See the full English text of Patriarch Gregorios III’s Letter to Pope Francis:  http://www.pgc-lb.org/eng/gregorios/view/Letter-to-Pope-Francis
•    Read the news item in French on the Vatican Radio website: http://fr.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/04/02/syrie_:_gregorios_iii_lance_un_appel_au_secours_au_pape_fran%C3%A7ois/fr1-679090
•    Listen to the interview in French with Hélène Destombes  on Vatican radio: http://media01.radiovaticana.va/audio/ra/00365188.RM and http://media01.radiovaticana.va/audiomp3/00365188.MP3


Teachings of Christ

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (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.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Nativity of the Mother of God

Your nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, * heralded joy to all the world; * for from you has dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * and, having annulled the curse, He gave the blessing * and by destroying Death He granted us eternal life. (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.

Through your holy nativity, O Immaculate One, * Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness, * and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death. * Delivered from the guilt of sin, your people celebrate this as they cry out to you: * "The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God, the Nourisher of our Life." (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8th.

Random Proverb

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Do not pray that things may be according to your desires, for your desires are not always in keeping with the will of God. It is better to pray as you were taught, saying: "Thy will be done" (Matthew 6:10). Pray in this way about all things, for He always desires what is good and profitable for your soul, whereas you do not always seek it.

Saint Nilus of Mount Sinai: "153 Texts on Prayer"