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

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Pentecost

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

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

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

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

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

We ought to learn the virtues through practicing them, not merely through talking about them, so that by acquiring the habit of them we do not forget what is of benefit to us. 'The kingdom of God', St. Paul says, 'resides not in words but in power' (I Cor. 4:20). For he who tries to discover things through actual practice will come to understand what gain or loss lies in any activity that he pursues..."

St. Peter of Damaskos (Book 1:A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pg. 183)