Rome - (CWN) - Pope Benedict XVI met on June 28 with a delegation of Orthodox prelates, who were in Rome to join him in celebrating the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Each year the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople sends a delegation to join in the Vatican’s celebration of its patronal feast. In turn the Holy See sends a delegation to participate in ceremonies in Constantinople on the feast of St. Andrew, the patron of that see. This year’s Orthodox delegation was led by Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in France.

In his remarks to the visiting prelates, Pope Benedict observed that the Church is marking the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, an event that sparked a new era of ecumenism. He saluted the Orthodox leader of that era, Patriarch Athenagoras, who joined with Popes John XXIII and Paul VI to be “proponents of bold initiatives which paved the way for a renewed relationship between the Ecumenical patriarchate and the Catholic Church.”

The Pope went on to say: “It is a cause of special joy to me to note that His Holiness Bartholomew I is following with fresh fidelity and fruitful creativity the way marked out by his predecessors, Patriarch Athenagoras and Patriarch Dimitrios,” in his dedication to ecumenical progress. The Holy Father said he prayed the continuation of that work will enable Catholics and Orthodox “to arrive soon at the blessed day when we will be able to share in the Eucharistic banquet.”


Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." (Matthew 5:11 ESV)

Encounter

Rejoice, O Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. * Rejoice also, you righteous Elder; * for you received in your arms the Deliverer of our souls, * Who has given us resurrection. (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.

O Christ God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin's womb; * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. * Now, having come, you saved us. * Give peace to Your commonwealth in times of war * and strengthen our civil authorities, whom You have loved, O You who alone loves mankind. (Kontakion, Tone 1)

(The Feast of the Encounter is February 2nd - the 40th Day of Christmas)

Random Proverb

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The soul has followed Moses and the cloud, both of these serving as guides for those who would advance in virtue; Moses here represents the commandments of the Law; and the cloud that leads the way, its spiritual meaning. The soul has been purified by crossing the Sea; it has removed from itself and destroyed the enemy army. It has tasted of the waters of Marah, that is, of life deprived of all sinful pleasure; and this at first had seemed bitter and unpleasant to the taste but offered a sensation of sweetness to those who accepted the wood. Next it enjoyed the beauty of the palm trees of the gospel and the springs; it filled itself with the living water, that is, the rock. It took within itself the bread of heaven. It overwhelmed the foreign host - a victory due to the extended arms of the Lawgiver, which thus foreshadowed the mystery of the Cross. Only then can the soul go on to the contemplation of transcendent Being.

St. Gregory of Nyssa