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Patriach Gregorios III Speaks at the Sixth General Congregation on the Synodal theme «The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith»

H. B. Gregorios III LAHAM, B.S., Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek-Melkites, Head of the Synod of the Greek-Melkite Church (SYRIA) Sixth General Congregation Thursday October 11 afternoon 2012

New evangelization is synonymous to updating. This Council is an update. The council documents are the prelude to our Synod.

Three points to my intervention

1. Formation or creation of frameworks We, the Christians in the Orient, we bathe in a non-Christian world: we are the small flock, ad extra in relation to Islam, and ad intra because of the decrease of religious practice.

The Realpolitik imposes upon us to work in keeping in mind this dual reality ad extra and ad intra. This means to concentrate our pastoral work of the New Evangelization on this small flock, without excluding the whole of our faithful that practice to a lesser degree.

This small flock must be excellent, to form through it the team of agents of New Evangelization.

Even if the Church grows to huge dimensions, she must maintain the strategy of the small flock.

This is the meaning, the essence, the motivation, the reason for being of the Eastern small flock and everywhere. This is the apostolic strategy: to form the small flock to being with and for the large flock.

2. Vademecum of the Christian faith

Our faith is beautiful. However its content and its statements are very difficult.

The proclamation of the faith in Islam can be summarized by this dual witness: “There is no other god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet”.

For the Jews, the substance of the Faith is expressed by the double commandment: “I am your God! You have no other but me. You will love your God with all your heart, and your neighbour as yourself!”

Our beautiful Christian faith is too complicated: the terms, their content and their explanation. We bathe in an ensemble of dogmas, of mysteries: the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, Redemption, the Sacraments (called mysteries by the Greeks).

These dogmas must be interpreted in a form capable of touching upon daily life, human aspirations, happiness and prosperity, the daily realities of our faithful.

From this, we can see the great importance and need for the New Evangelization to create a concise, precise and clear text on our Faith. This is important for our faithful ad intra, as well as for our fellow non-Christian citizens ad extra.

I hope that this proposition can find its path, and that theologians will be charged with it at the end of our Synod.

3. Practical programme

The New Evangelization is necessarily conditioned by the specificity of the local Church; in time, the context of Tradition, customs, culture, needs. For this reason, I have also presented an essay from an Eastern point of view, Melkite Greek-Catholic, Arabic, of the New Evangelization with practical propositions.
See the list in the complete text of my intervention.

[Original text: English] Source:http://www.vatican.va/news_services/press/sinodo/documents/bollettino_25_xiii-ordinaria-2012/02_inglese/b11_02.html#-_H._B._Grégoire_III_LAHAM,_B.S.,_Patriarch_of_Antiochia_of_the_Greek-Melkites,_Head_of_the_Synod_of_the_Greek-Melkite_Church_(SYRIA)_

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

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
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