Patriarch GergoriosIIIDamascus - “Holy Father, be our Saint Simon of Cyrene on the Way of the Cross!” was the appeal made by His Beatitude Gregorios III, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, in an open letter to Pope Francis. In this very personally expressed message, dated 29 March, Holy Friday, when the Pope celebrated the first Way of the Cross of his pontificate, Gregorios III outlined the “violence, terror, chaos and death” ravaging Syria.

Patriarch Gregorios III says he addressed to the pope “a plaintive and affectionate cry, as much as to say: come to the aid of Syria, which cannot bear such a long Way of the Cross.  It needs resurrection …through reconciliation and dialogue, to bring to an end the crisis that is destroying thousands upon thousands of Christians and non-Christians.”  He made a real call for help, admitting that he was expecting “a gesture, an initiative, a roadmap” from the Holy Father.

“We are expecting an initiative, a gesture and a word”
The Patriarch of Antioch and All the East exhorted “the Vatican, as a State, Pope Francis, personally and the Catholic Church, by way of the Episcopal Conferences”  to launch a joint appeal to save Syria.

“We are not afraid of Muslims,” he explains, “but we are afraid of chaos taking root in the Middle East. Syria has become a highly lucrative market-place for interested parties, while every aspect of democracy, freedom and secularism has been lost. Nowadays,” laments His Beatitude Gregorios III, “no-one cares about that.”

Daily kidnappings, acts of violence and killings
Last Sunday, in his Easter Urbi et Orbi message, the pope urged peace in the Middle East and “above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort.  How much blood has been shed!” declared Pope Francis, “And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?”

The Patriarch of Antioch and All the East emphasised the joy awakened by these words from the pope which made headlines in all the papers. He said something “quite precise and concise, that made complete sense and touched the hearts of all Syrian citizens. We need someone from the Catholic Church calling stop; enough fighting. Every day we have new abductions and killings. Where are we going? People can’t take any more. That precisely why I made this appeal,” explains Gregorios III, “for the Catholic Church to be in the front line for saving Syria.”

•    See the full English text of Patriarch Gregorios III’s Letter to Pope Francis:  http://www.pgc-lb.org/eng/gregorios/view/Letter-to-Pope-Francis
•    Read the news item in French on the Vatican Radio website: http://fr.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/04/02/syrie_:_gregorios_iii_lance_un_appel_au_secours_au_pape_fran%C3%A7ois/fr1-679090
•    Listen to the interview in French with Hélène Destombes  on Vatican radio: http://media01.radiovaticana.va/audio/ra/00365188.RM and http://media01.radiovaticana.va/audiomp3/00365188.MP3


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)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (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.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Random Proverb

"Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live." (Proverbs 4:4 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying:"If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new" (2 Cor. 5:17). 

St. Gregory the Great