Protocol 413/2013 D
Damascus, 1 September 2013

Just before the Angelus of 1 September, His Holiness Pope Francis announced his decision to proclaim next Saturday, 7 September, “the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world.” The Holy Father invited “each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.” He also condemned the use of chemical weapons, calling on us all to get involved in working for peace.

As President of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria (ACHS), and Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, we call upon all our faithful sons and daughters to join in this day of fasting and prayer. We ask for services to be held in all parishes – according to the situation and conditions specific to each. Let these services and celebrations be held in union with the Holy Father, who from 7 p.m. until midnight will be in St Peter’s Square “in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world.”

We call upon all our priests to open their churches during that period to pray with any parishioners who manage to come. This vigil will be marked by the celebration of Vespers and Matins with a time of prayer and meditation. The prayer uttered by Blessed John Paul II at Quneitra on 1 May 2001 should also be recited. We also suggest reading Pope Francis’ remarks of 25 August and 1 September as well as our own statements and appeals for peace.

The collections taken during this prayer vigil and the next day, Sunday, will be entirely for the benefit of Syria’s crisis victims in need and distress.

With the Holy Father, we ask “Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”

Gregorios III
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem
President of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate
Of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem


Teachings of Christ

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 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

"Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you." (Proverbs 3:28 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

God is nearer to us than any man at every time. He is nearer to me than my raiment, nearer than the air or light, nearer than my wife, father, mother, daughter, son or friend. I live in Him, soul and body. I breathe in Him, think in Him, feel, consider, intend, speak, undertake, work in Him. `For in Him we live, and move, and have our being' (Acts 17:28).

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ