Deisis (Novogorod)

Damascus’ suffering and praying Church begins Great and Holy Lent Monks’ Monday, 3 March 2014

Prot. N° 123 /2014D

Damascus’ suffering Church celebrated the start of Great and Holy Lent, with the first day,  known as Monks’ Monday, since in days gone by Christians bade farewell to the monastics among them who would leave the villages for the deserts and caves of the region, only to return on Lazarus Saturday to celebrate Palm Sunday and Holy Week.    

Several parishes commemorated Monks’ Monday around midday, by eating the popular dish called Mujadara (lentils and rice) cooked in huge tureens.       

His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios III, celebrated Monks’ Monday in the village of Jdeidet Artuz near Damascus, where people from several Syrian regions, including many of his own relatives from Daraya, have taken refuge. The parish priest, Father Shehadeh Abbud, invited his parishioners to welcome the Patriarch, who presided at the celebration of the Sixth Hour commemorating Christ’s Passion, which continues in the suffering of Syrian people.

In his sermon, the Patriarch presented his Lent Letter, called “The Grace of Fasting.” Then His Beatitude visited the parish kindergarten and shared in the traditional Lenten meal of Mujadara and salad with the parishioners.

Many parishes celebrated Monks’ Monday in this way, giving Mujadara to some five thousand people.       

At the Patriarchate, Archbishop Joseph Absi, Patriarchal Vicar, presided at a short service and the Mujadara meal offered by MIDADE, headed by Mr Ghassan Talab, to some five hundred children and young people.        

The giant tureens contained the following ingredients: fifty kilos of lentils, forty-five of rice, forty of cabbage, twenty of onions and twenty of lemons cooked in sixteen litres of olive oil and sixteen of sunflower oil.    

On Monday evening, our parishes began celebrating the beautiful Lenten service of Great Compline, known by the name of one of its invocations: “Lord of Hosts, be with us.”

We thank the Lord that Damascus’ suffering Church has become the Church at prayer for forty days, rounded off by Holy Week. We are proud that the Church of Damascus is well-known for the keenness with which the services are celebrated during Great Lent: almost every day, almost all our churches are completely full.

Damascus’ suffering Church turns into thousands of hands uplifted in prayer, calling upon the Lord for the victims of war, violence and terror and beseeching peace, security, reconciliation, love, stability and an end to the suffering of millions of displaced, handicapped, wounded and grieving persons.  

So the Church of Damascus and the Church of all Syria continues its way of the cross, without allowing the flame of hope to die out in the hearts and minds of the faithful, as His Holiness Pope Francis recommended to us, calling upon us to keep “the courage of prayer.”       
The Church of Damascus and all Syria goes forward with courage, faith, hope and love on its way of the cross during Great Lent, in the hope that shines out upon all its fellow-citizens in all regions, the dawn of peace and Resurrection, and wishing to everyone a good Holy Fast.   

Furthermore, His Beatitude plans to visit the parishes of the Patriarchal Eparchy of Damascus during the Lenten season, to meet priests and faithful. On each visit, the Patriarch will preach a sermon on Lent.

Reports and photographs of these Lenten visits will be published to accompany parishioners in their hopes and sufferings, and in their hopes for peace in our beloved Syria, the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world. 


Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Instead, grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother. For You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

 

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