CWN - Pope Francis concluded the first day of his three-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land by meeting with refugees and young people with disabilities in the Latin church in Bethany beyond the Jordan, the site of Jesus’ baptism.

Christ’s baptism, Pope Francis began, manifests his humble love by which he seeks to heal the wounds of humanity. Referring to the wounds of today’s world, Pope Francis turned to the Syrian conflict, which has led millions to flee their homes. The root cause of this evil is “the hatred and greed for money” of those involved in the manufacture and sale of weapons.

After praying for the conversion of “these criminals, these poor people,” Pope Francis thanked Jordan for hosting so many Syrian and Iraqi refugees-- there are over two million refugees in the nation of 6.5 million-- and thanked all who assist the refugees. The Pope appealed for increased international aid to assist Jordan in aiding the refugees and for peace in Syria, calling for “dialogue and moderation, compassion for the suffering, the search for a political solution.”

The Pope asked those present to pray for peace, joining to their prayers the offering of their daily work. He concluded by praying for the conversion of the violent and for those who manufacture and sell weapons, and by praying for the strengthening of peacemakers.


Protection of the Mother of God

Protected by your coming, O Mother of God, * the faithful people celebrate today with splendor, * and, gazing at your most pure image, * we say with compunction: * "Shield us with your precious veil * and deliver us from all evil * imploring your Son, Christ our God, to save our souls.” (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.

Today the Virgin stands forth in the Church, * and with the choirs of saints she invisibly prays to God for us. * The Angels worship with the hierarchs, * and the apostles exult with the prophets, * because, in our behalf, the Mother of God entreats the pre-eternal God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God on October 1st.