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

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7,8 ESV)

Seventh Ecumenical Council

O Christ our God, You are most glorious, * for You established our Fathers as lights upon the earth * and through them led us to the true faith. * O greatly Compassionate One, glory to You! (Troparion, Tone 8)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The Son Who shone forth ineffably from the Father * was born two-fold in nature. * Beholding Him, we do not refuse the image of his form, * but piously depicting it, we honor it faithfully. * Therefore the Church, holding fast to the true faith, * kisses the icon of the incarnation of Christ. (Kontakion, Tone 6)

(Troparia of the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council)

Random Proverb

"The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin." (Proverbs 10:10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

"In the matter of piety, poverty serves us better than wealth, and work better than idleness, especially since wealth becomes an obstacle even for those who do not devote themselves to it. Yet, when we must put aside our wrath, quench our envy, soften our anger, offer our prayers, and show a disposition which is reasonable, mild, kindly, and loving, how could poverty stand in our way? For we accomplish these things not by spending money but by making the correct choice. Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all."

St. John Chrysostom