Moscow, August 30, Interfax - Intensifying relations between Moscow and Vatican are dictated by certain troublesome trends in the church world, former Russia's representative to the Holy See Vyacheslav Kostikov believes.

"Despite of Vatican's enormous authority, positions of Christianity in Europe are weakening: though there are about 2 billion Christians in the world (1 billion of them are Catholics), churches are getting empty and closed, while Islam is strengthening its presence and influence in the world (1.5 billion) and in Europe," he writes in his article published on Wednesday in Argumenty i Fakty weekly.

Besides, Kostikov believes "recent statement made by Erdogan negatively impressed Europe as he said that Turkish electorate should defeat those politicians who "oppose Muslims in Berlin." The author is sure that the Turkish Muslim community in Germany is an important destabilizing factor in political and religious life, while Muslim families that have already settled in Europe are much more active in "birth-giving activities" than Europeans.

"In changing conditions relations between Catholics and Orthodox, and especially between Vatican and Moscow focus on protecting shared Christian space rather than on their disputes," Kostikov said.

Teachings of Christ

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 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

"Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching." (Proverbs 4:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

According to the text, `We are the body of Christ and each of us is one of its members' (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27), we are said to be the body of Christ. We do not become this body through the loss of our own bodies; nor again because Christ's Body passes into us hypostatically or is divided into members; but rather because we conform to the likeness of the Lord's flesh by shaking off the corruption of sin. For just as Christ in His manhood was sinless by nature both in flesh and in soul, so we too who believe in Him, and have clothed ourselves in Him through the Spirit, can be without sin to Him if we so choose.

St. Maximus the Confessor, Second Century on Theology, Philokalia, V. 2