CWNews.com - The Eastern Catholic churches will play a central role in the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which opens in Rome on Sunday.

Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, briefed reporters in Rome on October 8 about plans for the Synod, which will run from October 10 to 24. He emphasized the “variety of traditions, spirituality, liturgy, and disciplines” that will be brought to the Synod by the Eastern Catholic representatives—who will form a majority among the Synod fathers.

Archbishop Eterovic explained to reporters that the Catholic presence in the Middle East is dominated by the “six sui juris Eastern Catholic churches, each with its own patriarch, father and head of the Church: the Coptic Church, the Syrian Church, the Greek-Melkite Church, the Maronite Church, the Chaldean Church, and the Armenian Church.” Pope Benedict has underlined the importance of these Eastern churches by taking the unusual step of appointing two “honorary” presidents of the Synod: Maronite Catholic Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir and Chaldean Catholic Patriarh Emmanuel III Delly.

The Synod will set a new precedent by hearing from three non-Christian speakers, along with representatives of the Orthodox world. The special guests will be David Rosen, the inter-religious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee; and two Muslim leaders, a Lebanese Sunni, Muhammad al Sammak and an Iranian Shi’ite, Shahid Beheshti.

In another “first” for the Synod, Arabic will be one of the official languages used for the discussions, along with Italian, English, and French.

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“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32 ESV)

Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple

Today is the prelude of the goodwill of God * and the heralding of the salvation of mankind; * the Virgin appears clearly in the temple of God * and foretells Christ to all. * Let us also with a mighty voice cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator’s divine plan.” (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.

The most pure Temple of the Savior, * the most precious Bridal-Chamber and Virgin, the sacred Treasury of the glory of God, * is brought today into the house of the Lord, * bringing with her the grace that is in the Divine Spirit. * The angels of God praise her in song: * “She is the heavenly tabernacle.” (Kontakion - Tone 4)

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary. How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility. 

St. Ambrose of Optina