Deisis (Novogorod)


Building Bridges with Christ
28 May-1 June 2014

Regensburg, Germany

Patriarch Gregorios III of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem arrived in Regensburg to attend this biennial event, which brings together Catholics and others from all over Germany and further afield to pray, celebrate, debate, learn and meet in Christian fellowship.

His Beatitude is a long-standing friend of Germany’s Catholic communities, since for more than fifty years he has been visiting this country to preach, talk and fund-raise for his Church in the Middle East and to make better known the Eastern Christian Catholic heritage to Western Christians.  

His Beatitude presided at Vespers of the Byzantine rite in St Emmeram’s Church on Ascension Day, and celebrated the Divine Liturgy on Friday, 30 May in the same church, when Grand Archimandrite Michael (Schneider SJ) concelebrating. Also participating were some bishops and priests from various Latin Catholic dioceses. On both occasions, the service was sung in German by the choir from Frankfurt-am-Main to music from the Russian tradition. The church was packed, evening and morning with a devout congregation who greatly appreciated the opportunity to attend an Eastern-rite service and to hear about the situation in Syria.  

His Beatitude in his sermon at Vespers explained the meaning of the Ascension in the light of Eastern spirituality, emphasising that just as Jesus was called Emmanuel (God with us) at his Nativity so he promised, at his Ascension, to be with his disciples always.

During the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude preached on the Katholikentag theme, and on being with Christ and like him, a bridge-builder. Jesus first bridged heaven and earth at his incarnation; the Liturgy also serves to bridge heaven and earth; icons and other symbols in church are such bridges too. In Ephesians 2, St Paul describes how Jesus broke down the wall of enmity and built a bridge of love, reconciliation and peace. In our daily life, we have repeatedly to destroy walls of enmity and build bridges. There are many such walls of partition: Christian-Muslim-Jewish, Christian interdenominational, East-West, North-South. Though in Germany, people are celebrating the 25th. Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a partition wall has recently been erected between Israel and Palestine. There are two keys for destroying walls of enmity: they are as described in Pope Francis’ speech (Jordan 24 May) “lasting peace for the entire region …requires that a peaceful solution be found to the crisis in Syria, as well as a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Finally, His Beatitude described the tragic situation in Syria and asked the congregation to pray for peace there.

His Beatitude also attended a podium discussion on how far faith can cope with a secular society, at which the President of the Federal Republic, Dr Joachim Gauck, a former Lutheran pastor participated, together with Alois Glueck, President of the Katholikentag, Rabbi Dalia Marx from Jerusalem, and others from Catholic, Evangelical and Muslim backgrounds, notable for their work in culture, sociology of religion and social integration.
Today, another discussion touched on peace-making and the right to freedom of religion, a topic very pertinent to the current situation in Syria.

When walking on the streets of Regensburg, His Beatitude continues his outreach and pastoral work as he is continually greeted by old friends from his years as Patriarchal Exarch in Jerusalem, when he received at the Patriarchate thousands of pilgrims from all over the world and especially from Germany.   
Tomorrow, His Beatitude will participate, with around one hundred other bishops from various countries in the Mass which closes the Katholikentag. “We hope and wish that more people would be willing to be peace-makers and bridge-builders, especially in Syria and the Middle East, and that the Church may continue its role and ministry of dialogue, reconciliation and peace,” says His Beatitude, at the same time inviting all readers and friends of the Patriarchate to pray for peace in Syria.

Report: V.C.

Teachings of Christ

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 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

"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want." (Proverbs 11:24 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Do not seek the perfection of the law in human virtues, for it is not found perfect in them. Its perfection is hidden in the Cross of Christ.

St. Mark the Ascetic