Annual Ecumenical Christmas Meeting

On 17 December, the annual Ecumenical Meeting of patriarchs, bishops, priests, monks and nuns of all denominations was held at the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Damascus: one hundred and twenty persons were present.

After a meditation, Patriarch Gregorios III (who was in fact the only patriarch present) invited all the bishops there to speak to the assembly about Christmas and the current situation. The meeting concluded with prayers for the sixth hour and chants in various liturgical languages.

All were then invited by His Beatitude to an agape meal for Christmas.

Aid to victims’ families

On 18 December Patriarch Gregorios III went to St. Joseph’s Church for a series of meetings.

He honoured the memory of the martyrs from the regions of Damascus, Homs and the Hauran and greeted relatives of sixty-seven victims. His Beatitude then led a prayer service and later presented the relatives with gifts from Aid to the Church in Need.

His Beatitude later met 185 children from Ma’alula and gave them a gift of money.

His Beatitude also met 800 children from the local parish.

Through Aid to the Church in Need and Caritas Poland some three hundred and twenty families of victims and about 5000 children from the regions of Damascus, Homs and the Hauran will be receiving aid.

On 19 December Patriarch Gregorios III met some fifteen handicapped persons at the Patriarchate in Damascus.

Thanks are due to ACN and Caritas Poland from the Christians of Syria, and we are hoping that Christmas may bring peace, joy and love to the hearts of Syria’s people and to their children.

Notes by telephone from Patriarch Gregorios III:

V.C.


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)

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

"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." (Proverbs 6:6-8 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is giver over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass.

Archimandrite Sophrony