By Maria Lozano

THE RE-CONSECRATION of the altar in the Cathedral of Our Lady Queen of Peace (Dec. 1, 2017) was a new milestone on the journey back to normalcy in Homs, Syria. For three long years, 2011-2014—the city split between rebels and the Syrian regime—it was the setting for some of the fiercest fighting of the civil war. By the time the government took full control of Homs again, the city was left in ruins.

In his emotional homily for the occasion, Melkite Patriarch Youssef Absi said, addressing an audience of more than a thousand: “Many have fallen as martyrs, your homes were destroyed; you were displaced and you lost your belongings and money; nevertheless, you did not allow these hardships to overcome you and defeat your spirit. You came back, with your strong will, to rebuild what has been destroyed; and here, today, you, with your presence, bring life back to this cathedral.”

 

The Melkite Catholic cathedral was the most extensively damaged church building in Homs. Our Lady Queen of Peace and all the property of the local diocese were in rebel hands until May 9, 2014. Many of the icons and statues were stolen or disfigured. There was widespread damage from bombings and bullets, as well as fire; in the crypt, tombs of priests were profaned.

To make matters worse, said Melkite Archbishop Jean-Abdo Arbach of Homs, “two days after the liberation of Homs, there was an enormous explosion inside the cathedral, causing damage that was ten times worse. The cupola, the roof and two entire walls collapsed. The rebels had hidden explosives beneath the bishop’s cathedra, the bishop’s throne.”

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Teachings of Christ

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?" (Mark 8:34-37 ESV)

Dormition

O Mother of God, in giving birth you preserved virginity; * and in falling asleep you did not forsake the world. * You are the Mother of Life and have been transferred to life, * and through your prayers you deliver our souls from death. (Troparion - Tone 1)

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

Neither the tomb nor death could detain the Mother of God, * who is unsleeping in her prayers and our unfailing hope in her intercession; * for He Who dwelt in her ever-virgin womb, * transferred to Life the Mother of Life. (Kontakion - Tone 2)

Random Proverb

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The work of prayer belongs to the angels, and is, therefore, the special concern of the Church. Every other work, i.e., charity, nursing the brethren, visiting the sick, caring for prisoners, releasing captives, and other similar things, is done by the brethren in love and offered by them to God. Similarly, poverty, fasting, sleeping on the ground, prostrations, vigils, etc., are good and like a sacrifice to God, because they aim to subdue and humble the body so that we may be purified and approach God and become friends of God -- yet these things do not present us directly to God, whereas prayer does so and unites us with Him. A person praying acts towards God like a friend -- conversing, confiding, requesting -- and through this becomes one with our Maker Himself.

St. Symeon of Thessalonica