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. 

Teachings of Christ

'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:53-54 ESV)

Protection of the Mother of God

Protected by your coming, O Mother of God, * the faithful people celebrate today with splendor, * and, gazing at your most pure image, * we say with compunction: * "Shield us with your precious veil * and deliver us from all evil * imploring your Son, Christ our God, to save our souls.” (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin stands forth in the Church, * and with the choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us. * The Angels worship with the hierarchs, * and the apostles exult with the prophets, * because, in our behalf, the Mother of God entreats the pre-eternal God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st.

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

First of all it must be understood that it is the duty of all Christians - especially of those whose calling dedicates them to the spiritual life - to strive always and in every way to be united with God, their creator, lover, benefactor, and their supreme good, by Whom and for Whom they were created. This is because the center and the final purpose of the soul, which God created, must be God Himself alone, and nothing else - God whom Whom the soul has received its life and its nature, and for Whom it must eternally live.

St. Dimitry of Rostov