Deisis (Novogorod)

Patriarch Gregorios III: Reflections on the anti-takfiri coalition

(20 September 2014) - Certain thoughts spring to mind in view of the joint readiness of many, particularly European, countries to fight Islamic State and variously named takfiri groups: -      

1.    Why are some countries, especially those of the region where there has been bloodshed because of the crimes of Islamic State and other similar groups, apparently excluded from the anti-Islamic State coalition?
2.    Why are not all Arab countries joining this coalition?
3.    Furthermore, why wouldn’t Arab countries be first to unite solidly to form an effective frontline coalition to fight these takfiri groups?
4.    We believe that a united Arab stance would be most effective in achieving that objective.

5.    A united and coherent coalition would be a landmark in history, especially for Arab countries, providing very clear and solid evidence for the predominantly Muslim Arab countries being really entirely and unambiguously against those various takfiri movements.
6.    A united and cohesive Arab coalition would be like a badge of honour for the monarchs and presidents of Arab countries and a wonderful moral example for young people who are expecting such a stance.
7.    In that way all Arab countries with their nations and armed forces united in purposeful solidarity, would rise up to eliminate these takfiri parties and tendencies.
8.    This stance of Arab countries would be the setting for the genuine, real, moral, social, cultural victory of faith over these currents, because such an attitude is more powerful than weapons.
9.    We turn to the muftis of Arab countries, patriarchs and other leaders of Christian Churches to join their voices to this united and consistent stance.
10.    Such a united Arab stance would reassure the region’s Christian and other faith communities about their future and constitute clear and firm evidence that living together, based on citizenship and respect for others and their religion is possible, and that Arab countries are resolved to establish secular states and create developed Arab institutions founded on human rights, including especially freedom of worship, religion and conscience, and citizenship with equality of rights and duties for all.  
11.    So the Arab world, with its Muslim and Christian civil and religious leaders, would provide an exemplary model for moral values for the whole world, resulting in the international community’s joining in this united Arab stance to achieve this objective.    
12.     We call upon our churches to raise prayers for this intention. From 22 September until 22 October we shall be holding a series of services in all Damascus’s churches in turn, with a service at 6p.m. every day in a church of a different denomination.  The first service will take place in the Melkite Greek Catholic patriarchal cathedral on 22 September at 6 p.m.     
 
We pray, “God, grant us thy peace, for thou hast given us everything!” and repeat the angelic Christmas hymn, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!

+ Gregorios III
               Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem


Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6 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)

Annunciation

Today is the fountainhead of our salvation, * and the revelation of an eternal mystery: * The Son of God becomes the Son of a Virgin, * and Gabriel announces the good news of grace. * Therefore, let us also cry with him to the Mother of God: * "Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (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.

To you, O Mother of God, our leader and defender, * we, your servants, delivered from calamity, offer hymns of victory and thanksgiving. * So you, who have invincible might, * set us free from every peril * that we may cry to you: * "Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!" (Kontakion, Tone 8)

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

Our distresses are notorious, even though we leave them untold, for now their sound has gone out into all the world. The doctrines of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set at nought; the devices of innovators are in vogue in the Churches; now men are rather contrivers of cunning systems than theologians; the wisdom of this world wins the highest prizes and has rejected the glory of the cross. Shepherds are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived. All this is enough to stir the pity of men who have learnt the love of Christ; but, compared with the actual state of things, words fall very far short....

Saint Basil the Great
(Letter 90)