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April 20, 2014
Mark 16:1-8 - When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back--it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (ESV)
Come, receive the Light which never fades! By His death and resurrection Christ has defeated Death once and for all. He destroys our enslavement to sin. Through faith He offers us new life. Let us celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and, in faith, allow Him to transform our lives.
I was buried yesterday with You, O Christ; but today I rise, resurrected with You. Yesterday I crucified myself with You, O Savior. Now glorify me with You in Your kingdom. (From Pascha Matins)
Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!
Хрїстóсъ воскрéсе! Воистину воскресе!
Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!
al-Masīḥ qām! Ḥaqqan qām!
¡Cristo ha resucitado! ¡En Verdad ha resucitado!
Foltamadt Krisztus! Valoban Foltamadt!
Hristos a înviat! Adevărat a înviat!
Kristus Prisikėlė! Tikrai Jis Prisikėlė!
For more reading: Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom
Palm Sunday, 13 April 2014
The Church of Damascus celebrated in joy and hope Jesus Christ’s victory, this Palm Sunday, with hundreds of children dressed in their Sunday best. Flowers and olive and palm branches decorated our churches.
Great and Holy Monday, 14 April 2014
The Lord has gladdened our hearts. The Syrian army liberated the town of Ma’alula, to everyone’s joy. General rejoicing! The Lord is good, great is his mercy. The inhabitants of Ma’alula are exultant. Lift up your heads, your deliverance is nigh, and you will soon return to your homes, damaged, pillaged, ransacked though they be!
Great and Holy Tuesday, 15 April 2014
At 8 a.m., in Damascus’ Old City, near Saint Thomas’ Gate, a deadly shell landed in the playground of the Armenian Catholic School at Manar, while the children were singing the national anthem before morning prayers.
One child was killed and sixty others injured. Several had life-changing injuries (cut or broken limbs and injuries to eyes, face, chest and stomach), while others were caught directly by the shell-burst.
20 April 2014
I You too have a resurrection
We are celebrating the Feast of the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ for the fourth consecutive time while the disastrous events of the so-called “Arab Spring” are destroying thousands of citizens of several Arab countries, from Libya to Egypt, Palestine and Iraq and especially in Syria.
It is precisely in these countries that Christians have been designated “children of the Resurrection.” They are all called to share in Jesus’ Resurrection.
My Paschal Letter this year is divided into two parts: first a general section and spiritual meditation on the Saviour’s Resurrection, in which all those who believe in Jesus Christ have a share, or rather all believers in God and the age to come await a resurrection or renaissance (baath) and renewal (nushur), meaning that Jews, Christians and Muslims all share this expectation.
That is why I address the wish expressed in the title of this letter to all our fellow-Christians and fellow-citizens in our beloved Middle East, affectionately and hopefully telling every man and woman: you have a resurrection too.
The second part of my letter is devoted to the tragic situation of our beloved country, Syria, which is continuing its way of the cross, but which will one day soon we hope reach resurrection joy.
CWN - The head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church has welcomed the Syrian government’s victory over rebel forces in the historic Christian town of Ma'loula.
Rebel forces seized the town in December and kidnapped 13 Orthodox nuns, who were released in March.
Patriarch Gregory III Laham described the Syrian army’s victory there as “a symbol of liberation of ‘every human being and every inch of Syria,’” the Associated Press reported.
risu.org.ua - The Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church approved on April 4 “Instructions on the Behavior of the Clergy during Political Election Campaigns.” The authors were prompted to issue the document in response to the behavior of clergy during the parliamentary electoral campaign of 2012.
“The signs that came from the UGCC faithful and other citizens, publications in the media, and our own observations prompted the bishops to issue this document to address the issue of the clergy’s involvement in social and political processes, particularly in the context of electoral processes,” the authors explain.
The document states that a priest is strictly prohibited from being part of a political party, from distributing in church or in the church yard campaign materials of candidates, parties, or political blocs, from campaigning for someone, and from openly expressing their political views in private conversations with believers.
The instructions do not cover all possible circumstances or situations that may occur in the context of an election. It only covers the common norms and describes the most common cases, describing the rules of conduct for the clergy.
The UGCC noted that the aim is to outline the place and role of the church and its ministers in the political and social processes in the light of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, while offering pastoral guidance on the specific behavior of the clergy during election campaigns.
“The goal of the instructions is on the one hand to ensure the smooth implementation of the church’s mission in the world, and on the other hand to prevent the involvement of the church in the electoral process and the abuse of its authority for the selfish ends of individual candidates or political parties during election campaigns,” reads the document.
CWN - A Dutch Jesuit priest who had been sheltering Syrian Christians was shot and killed, execution-style, in Homs on April 7.
Father Frans van der Lugt, who had lived in Syria for 50 years, was reportedly beaten by unidentified assailants, then killed by two bullets to the head. The 75-year-old priest had remained in rebel-occupied Homs, caring for the few Christians who remained in the city, sheltered in a monastery.
In February, Father Van der Lugt had issued an appeal to the world for the people of Homs, who were suffering from constant shelling. A short ceasefire late that month enabled many of the city’s Christians to leave, and the Christian population, once around 60,000, had dwindled to a few dozen.
"This is the death of a man of peace, who showed great courage in remaining loyal to the Syrian people despite an extremely risky and difficult situation," said Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office.
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Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Ukraine, Egypt, Syria, the whole Middle East and Africa, who are literal martyrs for Christ. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.