Patriarch Gregorios III: After the visit to Christian Valley and while flying to the Witness Summit in Washington

Today, the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin brings glad tidings to the universe. My prayer is for joy to fill the hearts of millions of people in our Arab countries, which are so filled with worries, fears, suffering and tragedy that impact lives both in public and in private.

While spreading hope and joy in Christian Valley I could not help noticing the profound suffering of displaced persons. Though they are safe where they are, they are labouring under the weight of cares, afflictions and very painful memories concerning their homes, relatives, possessions and their own and their children’s future.

Today my fellow Patriarchs and I are flying to Washington on this gruelling journey to the United States.

My feelings are mixed! On the one hand I am content to be on the way of the cross along with our countries, parishes and fellow-citizens. We bear the sufferings and expectations of them all as the Second Vatican Council affirms, and as Saint Paul said so eloquently. All are pinning all their hopes on the Church. Did not our Lord Jesus tell us, “Do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13:11)

Yes, let the Spirit speak in us! I hear what the Lord God is saying within me! He speaks peace for his people and his elect.  His salvation is nigh for the one who fears him. “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Ps 84:10 LXX /85:10)

My contribution before the greatest power among the nations is meant to be a spiritual witness in favour of peace in our region: its security, and living together among the various constituents, especially the young! This is a common responsibility. The Church is an integral part of that society and we have a common responsibility in the face of so much suffering and tragedy. We make up part of this tragedy and we also represent a part of the solution. I should like to recall here a threefold sentence proper to the medical team that works in a hospital in Germany and which is helping me complete the projected building of a hospital between Damascus and Daraa in the native village of my mother where the Apostle Paul stayed for three years after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.

Here is the slogan:
Who? if not us!

Where? If not here!

When? If not now!

I’ll be using this slogan effectively in this great country where great decisions are made.

I am putting this slogan to the West with love and trust.

And I’m also putting it to the East, our Arab countries, kings, princes, state presidents and heads of government….

I’m really very hopeful that the patriarchs’ voice may be heard as was the prophets’ and sages’!

Our visit and participation represent an historic step in the annals of the Church. Today the Church, more than any other society, entity, institution or organisation bears this responsibility, and, as patriarchs,  we ought to continue our initiatives at every level, knocking on every door : of hearts, to  change the inclination of States and international organisations. Yes, the Church must offer every sacrifice, take every step regardless of cost for it represents the roots and foundations of Christian and Muslim Arab society.

It is called to bring about peace in the region in order to be worthy of the Beatitude shown by its Master and Founder among peace-makers, the One who is Prince and King of Peace: “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.”  May it be a peace-maker like its Master and gather into one the children of God scattered abroad.

This is the greatest and most sublime goal of all the mysteries of our Christian faith: the incarnation. Jesus, the Word incarnate, said, defining the goal of his incarnation and coming into this world: “I am come that they (everyone) might have life and might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

That is the role and story of the Church. That is still its message today!

Fear not little flock the great role that is yours, for the welfare of all humanity!

The unified and harmonised voice of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs who share a common vision has as its goal to be the trigger for a global and really ecumenical Christian consensus on the East. Thus the Church’s voice will be one both in the East and in the West: the Holy Father and the Catholic Church through its bishops’ assemblies, the Orthodox Churches, the Anglican and other reformed Churches. Let us promulgate a joint spiritual declaration that highlights the Church’s role in the current existential crisis. That is a special challenge and unique opportunity for the Church to act in favour of peace in the predominantly Muslim Arab East. So it shows its role and vocation to Eastern society. This can only strengthen the Christian presence, role, vocation and involvement in the East so as to give Christians the strength of conviction to remain anchored in the Middle East, cradle of Christianity.

From our history, culture and lived, shared experience, the Churches must walk in step to broaden their sphere of action to reach the spiritual leadership of our Muslim brethren too, so that the patriarchs and muftis and ulema of Arab countries can meet and work together to reflect on the current crises and tragedies of our Arab world, especially on the development of fundamentalism, terrorism and takfirism as they have recently appeared. Let them draw up reports and action plans to remedy these situations. That would be a providential opportunity and historic step which has to be undertaken together.

Recently I sent a letter on this subject to the muftis of Arab countries and I trust that they will react positively to it.

Here is a road-map inspired by Christian and Muslim faith and it is a fundamental stage towards a unified strategy based on a single vision.

As patriarch with the title of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem and with residences in Damascus, Beirut, Cairo and Jerusalem I have experienced in a special way the tragedies associated with the Arab Spring in Egypt and Syria, Gaza and Lebanon. Our faithful are facing a fire that is consuming the region: it burns and destroys, kills and terrorises. I have witnessed their sufferings and on 20 August we visited those who had taken refuge in Erbil, far from the ethnic cleansing of the Islamic State.
Faced with this dramatic reality that we are experiencing in the East, I am launching an existential appeal: we all in the Arab world, to whatever denomination we may belong, are facing a single historic challenge: “to be or not to be.” As our great singer Fayrouz said after Jerusalem was taken in 1967: “Love has withdrawn and the world’s heart has been consumed by war.”

That is my deep fear! Here is my appeal that I am making with a broken heart in this Washington summit. I trust that my cry will reach your awareness and heart in your assembly, congress and organisations!

Save the Arab world ! Save the Arab East! with all its constituents, ethnicities and confessions. Put the fire out! It’s at your door!

As Pope Francis said when he visited Jordan on 24 April: peace in the Middle East has two keys : a real peaceful solution in Syria and justice in the Palestinian case.

Dear friends,

In the East we shall succeed in overcoming this identity crisis. Our perseverance in living together (despite difficulties), as we have done throughout our long history  is the only warranty for safety and well-being in the Middle East, and even for the West (Europe, the United States) and Australasia. Light comes from the East. From the East which has given the light of faith, in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, there comes and is fulfilled the salvation of the world.

Join us on the march of Christian faith, charity and hope!

We are praying for you to be peace-makers: may the peace of Christ be in your hearts, minds, souls and countries.

On board the plane to Washington



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“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)


Saturday of Saint Lazarus the Righteous
- Hebrews 12:28-13:8, John 11:1-45

The Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem: Flowery (Palm) Sunday
- Vespers: Genesis 49:1,2,8-12, Zephaniah 3:14-19, Zechariah 9:9-15
- Matins: Matthew 21:1-11,15-17
- Liturgy: Philippians 4:4-9, John 12:1-18

Great and Holy Monday
- Matins: Matthew 21:18-43
- Sixth Hour: Ezekiel 1:1-20
- Vespers (Presanctified): Exodus 1:1-20, Job 1:1-12, Matthew 24:3-35

Great and Holy Tuesday
- Matins: Matthew 22:15-23:39,
- Sixth Hour: Ezekiel 1:21-2:1
- Vespers (Presanctified): Exodus 2:5-10, Job 1:13-22, Matthew 24:36-26:2

Great and Holy Wednesday
- Matins: John 12:17-50
- Sixth Hour: Ezekiel 2:3-3:3
- Vespers (Presanctified): Exodus 2:11-22, Job 2:1-10, Matthew 26:6-16

Great and Holy Thursday
- Matins: Luke 22:1-39
- First Hour: Jeremiah 11:18-12:5,9-11,14,15
- Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil: Exodus 19:10-19, Job 38:1-23; 42:1-5, Isaiah 50:4-11, 1 Corinthians 11:23-32, Matthew 26:1-20; John 13:3-17; Matthew 26:21-39; Luke, 22:43-45; Matthew 26:40-27:2 (Composite Reading)

Holy Friday (Thursday Evening)
- Matins - The Twelve Passion Gospels: 1) John 13:31-18:1, 2) John 18:1-28, 3) Matthew 26:57-75, 4) John 18:28-19:16, 5) Matthew 27:3-32, 6) Mark 15:16-32, 7) Matthew 27:33-54, 8) Luke 23:32-49, 9) John 19:25-37, 10) Mark 15:43-47, 11) John 19:38-42, 12) Matthew 27:62-66

Great and Holy Friday
- First Royal Hour: Zechariah 11:10-13, Galatians 6:14-18, Matthew 27:1-56
- Third Royal Hour: Isaiah 50:4-11, Romans 5:6-11, Mark 15:16-41
- Sixth Royal Hour: Isaiah 52:13-54:1, Hebrews 2:11-18, Luke 23:32-49
- Ninth Royal Hour: Jeremiah 11:18-23; 12:15,9-11,14,15, Hebrews 10:19-31, John 18:28-19:37
- Vespers: Exodus 33:11-23, Job 42:12-16, Isaiah 52:13-54:1, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:2, Matthew 27:1-38; Luke 23:39-43; Matthew 27:39-54; John 19:31-37; Matthew 27:55-61 (Composite Reading)

Great and Holy Saturday
- Matins: Ezekiel 37:1-14, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 and Galatians 3:13,14 (Composite Reading), Matthew 27:62-66
- Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil: 1) Genesis 1:1-13, 2) Isaiah 60:1-16, 3) Exodus 12:1-11, 4) The Book of Jonah, 5) Joshua 5:10-15, 6) Exodus 13:20-15:19, 7) Zephaniah 3:8-15, 8) 1 Kings 17:8-24, 9) Isaiah 61:10-62:5, 10) Genesis 22:1-18, 11) Isaiah 61:1-9, 12) 2 Kings 4:8-37, 13) Isaiah 63:11-64:5, 14) Jeremiah 31:31-34, 15) Daniel 3:1-90, Romans 6:3-11, Matthew 28:1-20

Feasts & Fasts

4 Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
6 Akathistos Saturday
7 Fifth Sunday of the Great Fast (St. Mary of Egypt)
13-20 Great and Holy Week
13 Lazarus Saturday
14 Palm (Flowery) Sunday - Entrance into Jerusalem
15 Great and Holy Monday
16 Great and Holy Tuesday
17 Great and Holy Wednesday
18 Great and Holy Thursday
19 Great and Holy Friday
20 Great and Holy Saturday
21 Pascha - Feast of the Resurrection of Christ (Easter Sunday)
21-28 Bright Week
28 Second Sunday of Pascha (Apostle Thomas)

5 Third Sunday of Pascha (Myrrh-Bearing Women)
12 Fourth Sunday of Pascha (Healing of the Paralytic) Feast of Saints Cyril & Methodius
15 Mid-Pentecost
19 Fifth Sunday of Pascha (Samaritan Women at the Well)
26 Sixth Sunday of Pascha (Man Born Blind)
27 Memorial Day
30 Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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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