VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2008 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received 300 members of the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate, headed by His Beatitude, Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, who are on pilgrimage to Rome.

The Pope praised "the vitality of the Melkite Church, despite the difficulties of the region's social and political situation", affirming that "on drawing near to the beginning of the year dedicated to St. Paul, I cannot forget that the seat of your patriarchy is established in the city of Damascus, on the road to which the apostle lived the event that transformed his existence and opened the doors of Christianity to all the nations".

The Holy Father used the occasion of the Pauline Year to invite the patriarch to carry out "an intense pastoral outreach" to awaken in the faithful "a new impetus to know ever more closely the person of Christ, thanks to a renewed reading of Paul's writings". This focus," he emphasized, "will also guarantee a thriving future for the Melkite Church".

"In order to ensure the evangelical dynamism and unity of the communities, as well as the proper functioning of the ecclesial work in the patriarchal Churches," Benedict XVI observed, "the role of the Bishops' Synod is of primary importance. That is why it is necessary, every time the right allows for it, above all when it has to do with questions related to those same bishops, to give this venerable institution and not only the Permanent Synod, the standing it merits".

Referring to ecumenical outreach, the Pope recalled that "the commitment to the search for unity of all Jesus' disciples is an urgent obligation" and therefore "everything possible must be done to tear down the walls of division and mistrust that prevent us from achieving it. Nevertheless, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the search for unity is a task that concerns not only a particular Church but the entire Church, in respect of its nature".

"I also appreciate," he added, "your good relations with the Muslims (.) as well as your efforts to resolve, with a sincere and objective spirit of fraternal dialogue, problems that may arise. (.) In line with Vatican Council II, the Melkite Church has sincerely sought mutual understanding and the promotion and a shared defense of social justice, moral values, peace, and freedom with the Muslims to the benefit of all".

On achieving its mission in the troubled and at times dramatic context of the Middle East," he concluded, "the Church finds itself faced with situations where politics plays a role that is not indifferent to its life. That is why it is important to maintain contacts with the political authorities and institutions and the different political parties. Nevertheless, it does not fall to the clergy to dedicate themselves to a political life. That is the duty of the laity. The Church, however, should propose the light of the Gospel to all so that all may dedicate themselves to serve the common good and so that justice may always prevail, so that the path to peace for all peoples in this much loved region may be opened".

AC/PATRIARCHY GREEK MELKITE/GREGORIOS IIIVIS 080508 (515)


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)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (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.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Nativity of the Mother of God

Your nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, * heralded joy to all the world; * for from you has dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * and, having annulled the curse, He gave the blessing * and by destroying Death He granted us eternal life. (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.

Through your holy nativity, O Immaculate One, * Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness, * and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death. * Delivered from the guilt of sin, your people celebrate this as they cry out to you: * "The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God, the Nourisher of our Life." (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8th.

Random Proverb

"Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10,11 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying:"If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new" (2 Cor. 5:17). 

St. Gregory the Great