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

'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:53-54 ESV)

Joachiam and Anna Rejoice

Today the bonds of childlessness are loosed, * for God has heard Joachim and Anna * and He promises manifestly that they, against all hope, would give birth to the Maiden of God * from whom the Uncircumscribed One Himself would be born, becoming man, * and he commanded the Angels to cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you!” (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.

Today the whole world celebrates * the conception of Anne which was brought about by God, * for she gave birth to the one who, beyond understanding, * gave birth to the Word. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

Holy Forefathers

Through faith, O Christ, you justified the Forefathers, * betrothing through them in advance the Church of the gentiles. * The Saints exult in glory, * for from their seed came forth a glorious fruit: * she who gave birth to You without seed. * Through their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on us. (Troparion, Tone 2)

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

You did not honor a hand-depicted image, O thrice-blessed ones, * but defended by the undepicted Being you were glorified in a trial by fire. * And, standing in the midst of unbearable flame, you called upon God: * “Hasten, O Compassionate One, and speed to our help, * for You are merciful and You can do whatever you will.” (Kontakion, Tone 6)

(Second Sunday Before Christmas)

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, 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

God is nearer to us than any man at every time. He is nearer to me than my raiment, nearer than the air or light, nearer than my wife, father, mother, daughter, son or friend. I live in Him, soul and body. I breathe in Him, think in Him, feel, consider, intend, speak, undertake, work in Him. `For in Him we live, and move, and have our being' (Acts 17:28).

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ