24-26 May 2014

Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land is a call to dialogue and encounter, a call to excel and transcend walls and borders, says Gregorios III.

On his return from Jordan, His Beatitude Gregorios III, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, hailed this pilgrimage of Pope Francis as the culmination of a fifty-year long journey punctuated by the annual feast-days of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew; Roman delegations in Constantinople for Saint Andrew’s day and Constantinopolitan delegations to the Vatican for Saint Peter’s, Joint Commissions for Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue …

 

This pilgrimage of the Holy Father is full of spiritual symbols, according to H.B. Gregorios III. It is enough merely to glance at the itinerary to realise that it constitutes an appeal to excel and transcend borders. Moving continually between one country and another, among Christians, Muslims and Jews, Pope Francis has once again launched an appeal for dialogue and encounter.

This was a call for more spirituality; a call to excel; shift boundaries; go beyond walls of partition, such as the wall around Bethlehem; a call to transcend borders… spiritual and material walls.

The Holy Father Francis came to tell us that “Christ is our peace.” He too came to bring peace, meaning that the Vatican is a “peace-maker”! It seems highly symbolic too that this pilgrimage of Pope Francis is his first trip outside Italy, since the World Youth Days in Brazil (23-28 July 2013).

Peace in the Holy Land, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the cessation of violence and the beginning of dialogue in Syria, were also central to Pope Francis’ appeals.

The Holy Father summons each of us to change his way of thinking and seeing and go beyond borders and walls in order to continue to be salt and leaven in these holy lands. This reminds us of the words of Pope Saint John Paul II stating that the Holy Land is the “homeland of the heart of all the spiritual descendants of Abraham … the sacred patrimony of all believers.”

On the eve of the Holy Father’s arrival, His Beatitude Gregorios III participated in the joint talk given by all the Eastern Patriarchs, and signed the joint request of the leaders of the Eastern Catholic Churches asking Pope Francis to fix a common date for the Feast of Pascha, to be selected by the Holy Father from the second fortnight of April.

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Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate
Of Antioch and All the East
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem


Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life! (Troparion)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Although You descended into the tomb, O Immortal One, * You destroyed the power of Hades; * You arose as the victor, O Christ God, * proclaiming to the myrrh-bearing women: “Rejoice!” * And granting peace to Your Apostles, * O, You, Who gives resurrection to the fallen. (Kontakion)

Teachings of Christ

“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 ESV)

Entry into Jerusalem

As we were buried with You through Baptism, O Christ our God, * we were made worthy of immortal life by Your Resurrection, * and we praise You in song, crying out: * “Hosanna in the highest! * Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.” (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.

As you were carried upon a throne in heaven and upon a colt on earth, * O Christ God, you accepted the praise of angels and the songs of children who cry out to You: * “Blessed are You Who has come to to call back Adam!” (Kontakion, Tone 6)

Random Proverb

"Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live." (Proverbs 4:4 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. Hence, if we feel in our hearts the cold that comes from the devil - for the devil is cold - let us call on the Lord. He will come to warm our hearts with perfect love, not only for Him but also for our neighbor, and the cold of him who hates the good will flee before the heat of His countenance.

St. Seraphim of Sarov