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Synod Leader Considers Keys for Mideast Meeting

Notes Irreplaceable Roles for Christians in Holy Land

By Carmen Elena Villa

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2010 ( In regions where Christians are considered non-citizens, a witness to Christ and Gospel values is essential, not only for a present renewal but also for a better future.

This was the suggestion made today by the secretary-general of the synod of bishops, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, in a press conference to present the outline of the October synod on the Middle East.

The three-chapter document considers the aim of the synod and, as is customary, offers questions for consideration that will be used to prepare the synod's working document.

One of the key issues taken up in the lineamenta, according to Archbishop Eterovic, is the relationship with Islam.

"Sadly, because of the lack of distinction between religion and politics, in practice Christians are often considered in a position of non-citizenship," he said. In this context, it is necessary "to be witnesses of Christ and of the values of the Gospel in all sectors of personal, family and public life. Hence, "the testimony of life of Christians as leaven of a renewed society is essential for the present and future of the Middle East."


The document also looks at the ongoing problem of a Christian exodus from the Holy Land.

Archbishop Eterovic noted how this exodus results in a weakening of the whole society.

Christians in this part of the world "support with their prayer and concrete aid endeavors their brethren of the Middle East, cradle of Christianity, as also of the other two monotheistic religions: Judaism and Islam," he affirmed.

And besides prayer and charity, the prelate contended that Christianity has another contribution for the conflict-plagued region: hope.

"Christian hope, born in the Holy Land, has encouraged the faithful for 2,000 years," he said. "Also today, even in the midst of difficulties and challenges, it continues to be, for Christians and men of good will, an inexhaustible source of faith, charity and the joy of being witnesses of the risen Lord Jesus, present in the midst of the community of his disciples."

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ZE10011910 - 2010-01-19

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead!

My soul, O my soul, rise up! Why are you sleeping? The end draws near, and soon you will be troubled. Watch, then, that Christ your God may spare you, for He is everywhere present and fills all things.

From the Great Canon of Andrew of Crete

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When the holy Abba Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by boredom, and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, 'Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction? How can I be saved?'

A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him: 'Do this and you will be saved.' At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.

The Desert Fathers
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