CWN - Sharply criticizing nations that support the Syrian rebels, 50,000 residents of historic Christian villages in Syria have applied for dual Russian citizenship, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

“We are scared of the conspiracy of the West and hateful fanatics who are waging a brutal war against our country,” according to the residents’ appeal, as reported by Interfax.

“It is for the first time since the Nativity of Christ that we Christians of Qalamoun living in the villages of Saidnaya, Maara Saidnaya, Maaloula and Maaroun are under threat of banishment from our land,” the appeal continued. “We prefer death to exile and life in refugee camps, and so we will defend our land, honor and faith, and will not leave the land on which Christ walked.”

“The Christians of Qalamoun believe that the purpose of the Western-backed terrorists is to eliminate our presence in what is our native land, and with some of the most revolting methods as well, including savage murders of ordinary people,” they added. “We see the Russian Federation as a powerful factor of global peace and stability. Russia pursues a firm line in the defense of Syria, its people and its territorial integrity.”

An official of the Russian Orthodox Church said that the appeal “vividly indicates Russia's high authority in the Middle East, especially among the Christian minorities living there.”

“Their move was guided by the intention to stress that ‘the Christians of the East have known for centuries that no other country would take care of their interests better than Russia,’” added Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s External Church Relations Department. “It is not a secret that it is a great honor for me, as a Russian citizen and the Qalamoun residents’ brother in faith, to hear that.”


Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life! (Troparion)

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

Although You descended into the tomb, O Immortal One, * You destroyed the power of Hades; * You arose as the victor, O Christ God, * proclaiming to the myrrh-bearing women: “Rejoice!” * And granting peace to Your Apostles, * O, You, Who gives resurrection to the fallen. (Kontakion)

Teachings of Christ

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

Random Proverb

"Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live." (Proverbs 4:4 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Acts of charity, almsgiving and all the external good works do not suppress the arrogance of the heart; but noetic meditation, the labor of repentance, contrition and humility -- these humble the proud mind.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast