CWN - The Eastern Catholic churches “should be kept and preserved” through current crises, Pope Francis said in a June 22 address to the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO).

In his address the Holy Father observed that the Eastern Catholic churches have endured “terrible waves of persecution and suffering, both in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.” The churches of Eastern Europe have been freed from oppression under Communism, he observed, but in the Middle East—and particularly in Syria, Iraq, and Egypt—Christians still “suffer as a result of the ongoing war and the senseless violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism.”

The Pope thanked ROACO for its support for the Eastern churches, saying that the survival of these Christian communities is “encouraging pilgrimage to the roots of the faith.” He remarked that in many countries, “Christians—be they Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestant—shed their blood as a seal of their witness.”

Pope Francis also made the observation that immigration has weakened the Christian presence “in the territories where they had flourished for centuries.” He offered the hope that Christians, “if forced to emigrate, be welcomed in the places where they arrive, and continue to live according to their own ecclesial tradition.”

Reflecting on the topic for discussion at the ROACO meeting—the formation of candidates for the priesthood—the Pope said that the Church recognizes “the radical nature of the choice expressed by many of them, and the heroism of their testimony of dedication alongside their often sorely tried communities.”

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Teachings of Christ

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44 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)

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

Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved. 

St. John Chrysostom