- The harsh life facing Christians as a religious minority in the Middle East and the absence of religious freedom in Islamic countries were prominent themes in the discussions of the Synod of Bishops on October 13 and 14.

Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni made the observation that the faithful should be prepared to accept sacrifices. “Christians enlightened by the Holy Spirit think they should be spared difficulties,” he said. From the earliest days of the Church, Christians regularly found themselves in a despised minority, he observed. “It is important to point this out, and in this sense to re-evangelize our faithful by presenting them the faith as it was lived during the first centuries of Christianity.” While always working for justice, therefore, the Church should place top priority on fidelity to the Gospel, the Armenian prelate insisted.

Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan of the Syrian Catholic Church agreed. “Our salvation lies in courageous adherence to His message, and in fearless proclamation of truth in authentic charity,” he said. The Synod’s message to the Church should underline this message, he said, and inspire the Christian people of the region. “Our who have the right to hope as they live their lives in this tormented region of the Middle East, expect a great deal from this Synod,” he said. “It is up to us to give them reasons for their faith, a faith inseparable from hope in our beloved Lord Who assures us: 'Do not fear, little flock.’”

Several Synod fathers, reporting on conditions in the Islamic world, reinforced the general concern about the lack of religious freedom for Christians there. Bishop Camillo Ballin, the apostolic vicar of Kuwait, reported: “In Muslim tradition, the Gulf is the land sacred to the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed, and no other religion should exist there.” Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar for Arabia, confirmed the problem, speaking about the lands of the Arabian peninsula: “There is no freedom of religion (no Muslim can convert but Christians are welcome into Islam), and only limited freedom of worship in designated places, granted by benevolent rulers (except in Saudi Arabia).”

Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, cited a particularly vivid example of this lack of religious tolerance: “It would seem that Christians who die in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to be buried there; their bodies are flown to Ethiopia for burial. Could the Saudi authorities be requested to allocate a cemetery for Christians in Saudi Arabia?”

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Teachings of Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 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)

(November 21st)

Random Proverb

"Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." (Proverbs 6:6-8 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Prayer is grace. God gives it when there exists zeal and humility…. Let Christ not be missing from your heart.