CWN - As an international military offensive moves toward Mosul, liberating towns from the hold of the Islamic State, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako has visited towns on the Nineveh Plains, and seen the destruction and desecration of Christian churches.

The Chaldean prelate said that he is hopeful Christian refugees who fled from the Islamic State will soon return to their homes in the region—which he described as “our holy land.” He said that religious leaders of all denominations should join in building a “culture of peace and harmonious coexistence.”

Speaking from New York, another Iraqi prelate said that it may take a year before Christians are able to settle once again into their old homes in and around Mosul. Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that refugees will face enormous challenges as they labor to rebuild their communities.

Archbishop Warda said that in his own archdiocese, about 80% of the Christian population want to remain, despite the threats to their security. But he vowed that even if many more families leave, the Church will continue to serve those who remains, and “there will always be Christians in Iraq.”

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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

"My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live." (Proverbs 7:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Virtues and vices are the food of the soul and it can feed on either one, turning to whichever one it wants. If it is bent toward moral excellence, it will be fed by virtue - by righteousness, temperance, meekness, endurance. In other words, it is just as St. Paul says, 'being nourished by the word of truth' (1 Tim. 4:6).

St. Ignatius of Antioch