Here is the text of the letter that the Holy Father Benedict XVI addressed to His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir when he accepts his resignation from office of Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites:


To His Most Eminent Beatitude
Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir
Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites

The year spent in sixteenth hundredth anniversary of the death of Saint Maron reaches its conclusion: a time of grace has been given to the Maronite Church during this anniversary special. It is also the culmination of your service for the greater glory of God and the good of all his faithful.

God in His unfathomable love you shaped and marked its indelible mark for a special election for his service. This choice has found his secret correspondence in your reply to the free and enthusiastic example of the Mother of God: "Let me according to thy word!" (Lk 1, 38).

You could celebrate last year's sixty years of your priesthood: proof of loyalty and love for Jesus Christ, the High Priest. In July, you will again have the opportunity to raise a thanksgiving to the Holy Trinity for the completion of fifty years as bishop.

For nearly twenty-five years, you worked with your two predecessors in the See of Antioch before being chosen by the Synod to succeed them April 19, 1986: a turning point that puts you on the threshold of your Silver Jubilee in this office.

You started this noble ministry of Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in the turmoil of the war that bloodied Lebanon for too many years. With the ardent desire for peace for your country you have driven this Church and traveled the world to comfort your people forced to emigrate. Peace finally came back, always fragile, but still present.

Pope John Paul II, whom I will have the joy of proclaiming Blessed on May 1st, called you to become a member of the College of Cardinals, November 26, 1994, to insert yourself into a deeper communion with the Church Universal . The arrival of my venerable Predecessor on Beirut in 1997 to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation: A New Hope for Lebanon, again underscored the constant link of your Church with the Successor of Peter.

When I convened the extraordinary Synod for the Middle East in September 2009, I appointed you Deputy Chairman ad honorem to emphasize the value of ecclesial service you have done in the name of Christ.

Recently I blessed the statue of Saint Maron, which was placed with St. Peter's Basilica at the end of the jubilee year, and I was able to greet you, the President of the Lebanese Republic, and numerous bishops and faithful.

You have chosen to forego the burden of Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites on this very special occasion. Now, I welcome your decision, which is a free and magnanimous expression of great humility and deep detachment. I am confident you will always accompany the path of the Maronite Church in prayer, wise counsel and sacrifices.

I ask God Almighty, through the intercession of Saint Maron and Our Lady of Lebanon, to fill you with his blessings. With all my heart, I send you my Apostolic Blessing, as well as bishops, priests, consecrated persons and all followers of the Maronite Church, and the beloved Lebanese Nation!

At the Vatican, February 26, 2011.

[Unofficial translation]

Teachings of Christ

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 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

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Why do you trouble yourself in a house that is not your own? Let the sight of a dead man be a teacher for you concerning your departure from hence.

St. Isaac the Syrian