Saturday 9 February 2013 was a busy day in the diary of Patriarch Gregorios III.

The day began with His Beatitude celebrating the Divine Liturgy in the church of the Carmelite Monastery of Unity, in Harissa, on the occasion of the solemn profession of Sister Marina of the Mother of God. Participating in the Divine Liturgy was Metropolitan Cyril Salim Bustros of Beirut and Byblos, the father of the monastery, together with Paulist, Carmelite, Mariamite and Soarite priests. The church, decorated with beautiful icons painted by the nuns, was full of friends of the monastery and relatives of Sister Marina.

His Beatitude spoke about the Year of Faith, saying that the object of our faith will always be the subject of our admiration and called for more candidates to devote themselves to priestly and monastic life. The Patriarch asked those assembled to pray for peace in Lebanon and especially Syria.

After the Divine Liturgy, His Beatitude went to Bkerkeh, to visit his brother Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Boutros Rai and wish him happy feast on the occasion of the feast of Saint Maron, patron of the Maronite Church. This was an opportunity to talk about a projected meeting for Eastern Patriarchs of all denominations to pray and think together about how to strengthen the role of Christians in the current regional crisis.


In the afternoon, the Patriarch left the Patriarchate in Rabweh for Damascus, where at 5 p.m., accompanied by eparchial priests, he led a candlelit walk of faith. A crowd of some fifteen hundred men and women, confraternities, young people and children, processed with prayers and hymns, from the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Dormition down the Via Recta (Straight Street), into the side-streets of the Old City to Bab Touma square, stopping in front of the Syriac Orthodox, Franciscan and Maronite churches. Prayers were offered for the intentions of peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, repentance, war victims, dialogue…Also accompanying the walk were Syrian media and Télélumière and other news channels. In Saint Thomas’ Square, the Patriarch explained the meaning of the candles carried on the walk: they represented Light, reminiscent of Jesus’ words, “I am the Light of the world” and “Let your light so shine before men…” They were also reminiscent of the Qur’anic verse, “God, Light of the heavens and the earth…”(Surah 24: 35 The Light) …The Patriarch called for the setting up of walks of light and hope for dialogue and reconciliation in all parts of Syria, saying that it was better to bear candles than weapons.



After this procession, His Beatitude, the priests and many other participants went to the Maronite cathedral, where the Maronite Patriarch celebrated the Liturgy for the Feast of Saint Maron.

Next day, Sunday 10, His Beatitude, accompanied by the Patriarchal Vicar, Archbishop Joseph (Absi), attended the enthronement of the new Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Beatitude John X (Yazigi) in the Church of the Holy Cross. Patriarch Gregorios III was invited to give a congratulatory speech in the name of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.       

This day was a really historic day, with the new Greek Orthodox Patriarch and the historic visit to Syria by the Maronite Patriarch. The Church has been giving courageous witness of faith, hope and support for all Christians, not only in Syria, but also in Lebanon and elsewhere. The Church’s role has become more visible than ever: a role of peace-making, reconciliation, rejection of violence and appeal for dialogue...

Below is a summary of our Patriarch’s words spoken at the enthronement of the new Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch:

“‘This is the day that the Lord hath made. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.’

“Congratulations, dearly beloved brother, in my own name and in the name of our brother bishops, members of the Holy Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Arab countries and throughout the world, and in the name of the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy in Syria, and in the name of the priests, monks and nuns of our parishes, especially in Damascus.

“We tell you as a brother: we love you! In the spirit of charity, we tell you that all of us here are with all of you in your Church, both in spiritual faith and love for our homeland.

“We express our joy to you, as Melkite Greek Catholics, and our feeling that we are in a unique fellowship with our Orthodox sister-Church. We rejoice in everything that unites us, and we shall strive for greater unity.

“We shall work together – Your Beatitude, His Holiness Patriarch Ignatios Zakka (Iwas[1]) and I – as we did with your late predecessor of blessed memory, Patriarch Ignatios IV (Hazim). We shall work together in these difficult times to support our faithful and all our fellow-citizens and for security, solidarity, mutual assistance, dialogue, reconciliation and peace in our countries, especially in Syria and for Syria to remain one, united and our homeland for ever, where we shall abide in communion, witness and love.”

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate, Lebanon

French translation: V. Chamberlain

[1] Absent this day due to illness

Teachings of Christ

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:16-18 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

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil's provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour's mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord's fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour's own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out'; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' - with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil - and I will give you rest.'

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ