CWN - The suffering of the people in Syria and Iraq is among “the most overwhelming human tragedies of recent decades,” Pope Francis said at a September 17 audience.

In an address to a conference organized by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, bringing together representatives of Catholic charitable groups working in the Middle East, the Pope decried the continued bloodshed in Syria and Iraq. He said that “the international community seems unable to find adequate solutions while the arms dealers continue to achieve their interests.”

Because of worldwide media coverage, the Pope remarked, the “atrocities and unspeakable human rights violations which characterize these conflicts are transmitted live.” Consequently, he added: “No one can pretend not to know!”

Without specifically naming the Islamic State, the Pope said that “the very legitimacy of the presence of Christians and other religious minorities is denied in the name of a violent fundamentalism claiming to be based on religion.” He expressed his horror at the suffering endured by persecuted Christians, and his concern that the ancient Christian presence in those lands is now jeopardized.

At a separate public audience on the same day, the Pope revealed that he carries the cross of a priest who was killed in Iraq. Speaking to young religious, the Holy Father disclosed that he was recently given a small cross “that a priest held in his hand as he was beheaded for his refused to deny Jesus.” Gesturing toward his chest, the Pope said: “I carry this cross with me here.”

Teachings of Christ

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)


At Your baptism in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (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.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * “You have come, and You have appeared , O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O 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.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you." (Proverbs 3:28 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When a man is disturbed or saddened under the pretext of a good and soul-profiting matter, and is angered against his neighbour, it is evident that this is not according to God: for everything that is of God is peaceful and useful and leads a man to humility and to judging himself.

St. Barsanuphius the Great