VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received 300 members of the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate, headed by His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, who are on pilgrimage to Rome.

The Pope praised "the vitality of the Melkite Church, despite the difficulties of the region's social and political situation", affirming that "on drawing near to the beginning of the year dedicated to St. Paul, I cannot forget that the seat of your patriarchy is established in the city of Damascus, on the road to which the apostle lived the event that transformed his existence and opened the doors of Christianity to all the nations".

The Holy Father used the occasion of the Pauline Year to invite the patriarch to carry out "an intense pastoral outreach" to awaken in the faithful "a new impetus to know ever more closely the person of Christ, thanks to a renewed reading of Paul's writings". This focus," he emphasized, "will also guarantee a thriving future for the Melkite Church".

"In order to ensure the evangelical dynamism and unity of the communities, as well as the proper functioning of the ecclesial work in the patriarchal Churches," Benedict XVI observed, "the role of the Bishops' Synod is of primary importance. That is why it is necessary, every time the right allows for it, above all when it has to do with questions related to those same bishops, to give this venerable institution and not only the Permanent Synod, the standing it merits".

Referring to ecumenical outreach, the Pope recalled that "the commitment to the search for unity of all Jesus' disciples is an urgent obligation" and therefore "everything possible must be done to tear down the walls of division and mistrust that prevent us from achieving it. Nevertheless, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the search for unity is a task that concerns not only a particular Church but the entire Church, in respect of its nature".

"I also appreciate," he added, "your good relations with the Muslims (.) as well as your efforts to resolve, with a sincere and objective spirit of fraternal dialogue, problems that may arise. (.) In line with Vatican Council II, the Melkite Church has sincerely sought mutual understanding and the promotion and a shared defense of social justice, moral values, peace, and freedom with the Muslims to the benefit of all".

On achieving its mission in the troubled and at times dramatic context of the Middle East," he concluded, "the Church finds itself faced with situations where politics plays a role that is not indifferent to its life. That is why it is important to maintain contacts with the political authorities and institutions and the different political parties. Nevertheless, it does not fall to the clergy to dedicate themselves to a political life. That is the duty of the laity. The Church, however, should propose the light of the Gospel to all so that all may dedicate themselves to serve the common good and so that justice may always prevail, so that the path to peace for all peoples in this much loved region may be opened".

AC/PATRIARCHY GREEK MELKITE/GREGORIOS IIIVIS 080508 (515)


Teachings of Christ

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" (Mark 8:34-37 ESV)

Theophany

When You were baptized 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 certainty 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 praise You in song: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Theophany is a Greek word meaning "manifestation or appearence of God".

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

[The Lord] is always knocking at the doors of our hearts, that we may open to Him, that He may enter in and rest in Our souls, and we may wash and anoint His feet, and He may make His abode with us. The Lord in that passage reproaches the man who did not wash His feet (Luke 7:44); and again He says elsewhere, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man will open unto Me, I shall come in unto him" (Rev. 3:20). To this end He endured to suffer many things, giving His own body unto death, and purchasing us out of bondage, in order that He might come to our soul and make His abode with it.. ..His food and His drink, His clothing and shelter and rest is in our souls. Therefore He is always knocking, desiring to enter into us.. Let us then receive Him, and bring Him within ourselves; because He is our food and our drink and our eternal life, and every soul that has not now received Him within and given Him rest, or rather found rest in Him, has no inheritance in the kingdom of heaven with the saints, and cannot enter into the heavenly city.. But Thou, Lord Jesus Christ, bring us thereunto, glorifying Thy name, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever. Amen

St Macarius the Great