Deisis (Novogorod)

Patriarch Gregorios III on Pope Francis in the Holy Land

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

“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)

Transfiguration

You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, * showing Your glory to Your Disciples as far as they were able to bear it. * Through the prayers of the Mother of God, * let Your everlasting Light shine also upon us sinners. * O Giver of Light, glory to You! (Troparion, Tone 7)

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

Upon the mountain You were transfigured, O Christ God, * and Your Disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could receive it, * so that when they would see You crucified, * they would understand that You suffered willingly; * and they would preach to the world * that You are truly the radiance of the Father. (Kontakion, Tone 7)

Dormition

O Mother of God, in giving birth you preserved virginity; * and in falling asleep you did not forsake the world. * You are the Mother of Life and have been transferred to life, * and through your prayers you deliver our souls from death. (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.

Neither the tomb nor death could detain the Mother of God, * who is unsleeping in her prayers and our unfailing hope in her intercession; * for He Who dwelt in her ever-virgin womb, * transferred to Life the Mother of Life. (Kontakion - Tone 2)

Random Proverb

"Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you." (Proverbs 3:28 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

No one has to be embarrassed over his sinful state. ‘There is no man who, while living, does not sin,’ and the more sinful the man, the stronger will be God’s help in leading him out of his sinful mire. But the help of God comes only when the sinner repents with heartfelt contrition and has the will to reform. Not seeing in himself enough strength of soul to break away from sinful deeds, he asks for God’s help. This is where the mercy of God, Who does not wish the death of the sinner but wants him to be converted and live, is often evident.… If the voice of conscience awakens in us a feeling of remorse or repentance, then we must pray fervently to the Guardian Angel of our human existence that he may keep us from corrupt downfalls and help us ‘serve God with fear and trembling.’

Elder Macarius of Optina