24-26 May 2014

Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land is a call to dialogue and encounter, a call to excel and transcend walls and borders, says Gregorios III.

On his return from Jordan, His Beatitude Gregorios III, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, hailed this pilgrimage of Pope Francis as the culmination of a fifty-year long journey punctuated by the annual feast-days of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew; Roman delegations in Constantinople for Saint Andrew’s day and Constantinopolitan delegations to the Vatican for Saint Peter’s, Joint Commissions for Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue …


This pilgrimage of the Holy Father is full of spiritual symbols, according to H.B. Gregorios III. It is enough merely to glance at the itinerary to realise that it constitutes an appeal to excel and transcend borders. Moving continually between one country and another, among Christians, Muslims and Jews, Pope Francis has once again launched an appeal for dialogue and encounter.

This was a call for more spirituality; a call to excel; shift boundaries; go beyond walls of partition, such as the wall around Bethlehem; a call to transcend borders… spiritual and material walls.

The Holy Father Francis came to tell us that “Christ is our peace.” He too came to bring peace, meaning that the Vatican is a “peace-maker”! It seems highly symbolic too that this pilgrimage of Pope Francis is his first trip outside Italy, since the World Youth Days in Brazil (23-28 July 2013).

Peace in the Holy Land, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the cessation of violence and the beginning of dialogue in Syria, were also central to Pope Francis’ appeals.

The Holy Father summons each of us to change his way of thinking and seeing and go beyond borders and walls in order to continue to be salt and leaven in these holy lands. This reminds us of the words of Pope Saint John Paul II stating that the Holy Land is the “homeland of the heart of all the spiritual descendants of Abraham … the sacred patrimony of all believers.”

On the eve of the Holy Father’s arrival, His Beatitude Gregorios III participated in the joint talk given by all the Eastern Patriarchs, and signed the joint request of the leaders of the Eastern Catholic Churches asking Pope Francis to fix a common date for the Feast of Pascha, to be selected by the Holy Father from the second fortnight of April.

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Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate
Of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

Teachings of Christ

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 ESV)

Lenten 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)

Rather 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)

Random Proverb

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary. How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility. 

St. Ambrose of Optina