(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

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (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.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. (Proverbs 3:9,10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

BROTHER: What is purity of soul?

OLD MAN: Remoteness from anger and from the error of the remembrance of evil things, and being weaned from the bitter nature, and reconciliation with our enemies, and peace which is beyond troubling, and simplicity of love which is above this world; with these things is the inner man cleansed, and he puts on Christ and is redeemed.


E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers"