Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 9th September, 4pm

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.
To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.
The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.

"It's Now or Never: The Return of the Eastern Christians to Iraq and Syria" - John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need gives the annual Christopher Morris Lecture in the Society's 90th year. Monday 27th November at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family. 6-15 pm Divine Liturgy, 7-15 pm Lecture, 8-15 pm Reception. £10 donation requested. RSVP to johnchrysostom@btinternet.com







Sunday, 24 April 2011

Patriarch Gregorios III’s Appeal to Western Leaders

In view of the tragically difficult times that the whole Middle East, and especially Syria, is going through, H. B. Patriarch Gregorios III wrote a letter on 20 April 2011 to Western leaders, asking them to help boost social and political evolution in the region. He stressed that the current revolutions are unlikely to benefit Christians, and may even result in more Christians being obliged to flee the unrest. He believes that Western support for peace is very important for Muslim-Christian living together in the Arab region, for the Christian presence there, for the communion and witness of its Churches to be maintained and for the aims of the recent Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops to be fulfilled.

***


Letter to Heads of State

 

Damascus, 20 April 2011

 

 

In the current tragic situation of my country, Syria, I am writing to you once more, Your Majesty (Your Excellency).

 

During my meeting on 22 March of this year with some Ambassadors at the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate, one or two of them asked me to write to you, and through you to the world, in the name of Syria’s Christians and Muslims too.

 

Few television channels and media are making the link between the revolutions in the Arab world and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This conflict, in my opinion, has a great impact on these bloody revolutions arising as if by magic in various countries, including my homeland of Syria, where my Patriarchal Residence is situated, in the holy, historic quarter of Saint Paul. This is also the seat of my two colleagues, the Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox Patriarchs, as well as of Archbishops and Bishops of the Orthodox and Catholic Armenian, Syriac Catholic, Maronite and Latin Churches, and of Protestant leaders.

 

Damascus is one of the most important cities in terms of Christian presence in the Arab world. Syria is also the most significant country for its Christian presence in a Muslim majority country, but which is a model of faithful and open secularism, as I affirmed before the Ambassadors on 22 March 2011.

 

I repeat what I said to the Ambassadors on 22 March in the Patriarchate, at the beginning of the events in Syria, and which is contained in the report issued after this meeting. (See the attached copy.)

 

Here is the most important passage:

“If this [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict is not resolved, there is great danger for this Christian presence, threatened by demographic (lower birth rate) and political factors, particularly as a result of tensions weighing on the small Christian communities: hence the importance of peace, especially for the countries of the Middle East and particularly for Syria, where all the country’s inhabitants really do live together.”

 

One Ambassador “emphasised that the country’s Christians, and the Patriarch, through his influence, should make Syria’s importance better known, in the context of the current unrest; and he supported the wish, voiced by the Patriarch, for the international media not to adopt a hostile tone towards Syria but rather help Syria to surmount and move beyond this turmoil in order to safeguard its pattern of living together.”

 

I expressed the same thing in a letter I wrote to several Heads of State of Europe and the Americas. Here is the most important passage of this letter:

“If you wish there still to be Christians in the Middle East, in the Holy Land, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and the countries of the Gulf, help us to make peace and stop the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, recognized in international law as Palestinian land!

 Christians, from lay-people to Patriarchs, together with Muslims in Arab countries are wondering why sanctions can be imposed upon a number of countries such as Syria, Iraq, and Iran, but never any that affect Israel.

 Such a state of affairs feeds fundamentalism and extremism and in turn rebounds upon us Christians, especially in Iraq and Egypt.”

 

This seems even more valid than ever, today in the present state of affairs of the situation in Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world.

 

Moreover, I would like to add an argument, the fruit of my knowledge and experience of the Arab world in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

 

Our Arab countries are not ready for revolutions, and not even for democracy of the European kind and model. That is due to their social, religious, demographic structures and their very multifaceted plurality. It is for these reasons that I am asking the West not to encourage revolutions unconditionally here and there in the Arab world. But rather Arab Heads of State should be invited and encouraged to develop democratic structures, freedom, respect for human rights, including those of women and children; and be supported in promoting systems of medical and social welfare, housing etc…

 

With this support, they can give real, tangible content to a programme that could be demanded from Arab countries’ leaders.

 

This is the comment that I heard from an ambassador of a large, very conservative, Arab country. He told me: “What we need in our Arab world is evolution, not revolution.”

 

What is the outlook after the revolutions?

That is why I am once more launching an appeal to our friends, the Heads of State, especially of the European Union, the Americas and elsewhere. Ask the Heads of State of Arab countries to work for real development and demand a clear, bold plan! But don’t encourage revolutions!

 

Already, the situation has deteriorated into organised crime, robbery, fear, terror being spread, rumours of threats to churches; victims, including the forces of law and order and others, are being mutilated... All this creates trauma.

This did not happen in Egypt.

Fundamentalist groups are threatening citizens and wanting to create "Islamic Emirates." Now the government has reacted positively to the demands and demonstrations, on the political and social level.

 

I tell you this frankly as a Christian citizen and as Patriarch, a pastor and leader highly conscious of his responsibility: what I am asking has great influence on Muslim-Christian living together and dialogue, mutual respect and so forth.

 

Christians especially are very fragile in the face of crises and bloody revolutions! Christians will be the first victims of these revolutions, especially in Syria. A new wave of emigration will follow immediately. We have experience of that. In Lebanon, after the war in South Lebanon of 2006 and between 2006 and 2010, one million Lebanese emigrated. 

 

Hence, Your Majesty (Excellency), this clear, frank, insistent, urgent appeal, springing from the heart of a pastor who is very committed as a Christian in society: an appeal based on our Christian faith! We Christians wish to be agents for peace! This appeal is based on our frank, sincere citizenship, our faithfulness to our homelands, our loyalty to our leaders, our sincere, indiscriminate love to our Sunni and Shi’a Muslim, Druze, Kurdish and Christian fellow-citizens.

 

This appeal is based on our great concern for national unity in every country, on our faith and conviction that the future lies in dialogue, fellowship, development of minds, citizenship training and not in revolutions, blood, violence, chaos and often armed, fundamentalist disorder; the Iraq experiment cost a great deal to Iraqis, especially to the little flock of Christians in that country, and to its unity.

 

What we need is:

Ø  The solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the recognition of the State of Palestine

Ø  General just and lasting peace

Ø  Stability and security

Ø  Social development

 

Help us, you Heads of State and governments, especially of Europe and the Americas. Help us!

 

I hope that all of you will hear this alarm call from an Arab Patriarch, who is open and sincere to God and his country, loving all citizens, and these Arab countries, which are our homelands, as Christians and Arabs. We constitute in these countries the Church of the Arabs, and even of Islam: a Church in solidarity with the Arab world and for this Muslim majority society. We want to stay here, in our Arab countries, which are the cradle of Christianity, and as our Master, Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ taught us, we want to be the light, salt and leaven in the lump of our world, and with and for this world.

 

Thank you! Excuse the length of this letter! I found it absolutely necessary and imperative to write this letter and make this presentation.

 

Thank you for your kind reception of this letter. I am praying for you and for your countries!

 

Sincerely yours,

 

+ Gregorios III

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East

Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Orientale XV - Conference

The conference will be held June 20-23, 2011 at the Washington Retreat House on the theme of "Rome and the Communion of Churches: Bishop, Patriarch or Pope?"
 
The Speakers are
  • Metropolitan Jonah (Orthodox)
  • Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia (Orthodox)
  • Archimandrite Robert Taft, SJ (Greek Catholic)
  • Msgr. Michael Magee (Roman Catholic)
  • Father Ron Roberson, CSP (Roman Catholic)
  • Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin (Orthodox)
  • Dr. Adam DeVille (Ukrainian Greek Catholic)
Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia will also server as moderator. Father Ron Roberson will give a summary of the North American Dialogue document "Vision for Unity" as the Closing Session, and the panel of speakers will discuss it, along with Q&A from the audience.
 
In addition to several video recorded blessings and greetings from Church leaders at the Opening Session, Jack Figel will also be preparing a short history of the conferences since it is our Fifteenth Anniversary. More details about the conference and online registration can be found at the Future Conferences page of www.olconference.com. (See this website for how you can watch OL conference live!)

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Patriarch Gregorios' Letter for Pascha 2012 and Pope John Paul's Prayer for Peace


Letter of H. B. Patriarch Gregorios III

for Pascha 24 April 2011

 

 

The Arab World’s Way of the Cross towards Resurrection

 

                Christ is risen!                                                                                                                     He is risen indeed!

 

To all of you, dear brothers and sisters,

your Graces the bishops,

Superiors General, Mothers General,

 priests, deacons, monks, nuns

and all the sons and daughters of our Melkite Greek Catholic parishes

 in Arab countries, the countries of emigration and throughout the world,

 best wishes for the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ,

who is Hope and bears the hopes of us all.

 

This spiritual meditation, entitled The Arab World’s Way of the Cross towards Resurrection is for you. Through this letter, I am trying to shed a little light from the Resurrection and awareness of the most sublime Resurrection on the situation of our Arab countries, so that their ways of the cross may lead them to the joys and hopes of the Resurrection.

 

The Way of the Cross, a way to Resurrection

So we may sum up the time of Great and Holy Lent: that is indicated in our liturgical services as early as the first day of the Fast, called Monday of the Monk, where we read, Let us begin the all-venerable season of fasting with joy, shining radiantly with the holy commandments of Christ our God, with the brightness of love, with the splendour of prayer, with the purity of holiness, and with the virtue of courage; so that, clothed in garments of light, we may hasten to the holy and third-day Resurrection, that illumines the world with the glory of eternal life.”     (Kathisma Tone 2, Orthros of the First Monday in Lent)

 

The Arab World’s Way of the Cross

The Arab world’s way of the cross began around the first months of 2011. This is what Jesus Christ told us: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars...For nation shall rise against nation and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24: 6-8)             

 

This is a way of the cross, along which are walking with difficulty over 350 million inhabitants of the Arab world, starting with the Arab Maghreb, across North Africa, Tunisia and Libya, passing through Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula, the countries of the Gulf, Bahrain and Yemen to continue the circle towards Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. As in Jerusalem, there is a way of the cross going along different axes from north to east, and east to west of Jerusalem and so our Arab countries are transformed into a great city called Jerusalem, where there is a garden of olive-trees,  the place of our Lord Jesus Christ’s agony, the way of his Passion, Golgotha and Resurrection. Moreover, this way of the cross of Jerusalem is stretching out, so that the roads of the Arab world and a large number of these very beautiful and elegant places, have become a great way of the cross, of suffering, a bloody, sad Golgotha, where very many victims can be seen, weeping before or groaning under the cross, wounded, widows, orphans, wandering folk, each of whom is wounded in the heart, conscience and body. And voices are being raised, that are quite revolutionary and threatening. There are hands raised, not for prayer, but for vengeance, brandishing weapons for reprisal, revenge and destruction. People are afraid, they are leaving their country, their home: they are fleeing, frightened, wandering without shelter and without any way out, from one country to another that accepts or rejects them, spending the night in the open air on the borders of neighbouring countries.

 

That is the spectacle that hundreds of television crews are striving to film, magnifying and exploiting it. Millions of people are glued to their screens – men and women both young and old, teenage boys and girls, and little children - and learning these revolutionary shouts from television and enthusiastically and cheerfully repeating them.

 

We have been talking of Palestine’s cross, Jerusalem, Golgotha and passion for over sixty years now. Today, the whole Arab world is walking along this way of the cross that is much bloodier than Palestine’s and the Palestinians’ way of the cross: blood is flowing, folk are dying, hungry. The Arab world, this world, so rich in resources, especially oil, is hungry, hungry for the bread of freedom and dignity and for the bread of a worthy life; folk are adrift in their own homeland. In the face of a revolution that is leaving in its wake chaos, looting, theft, fear and loss, God alone knows whither this revolution will lead our Arab world that is wandering without knowing what the eventual outcome will be.

 

On television screens, many politicians, sociologists, trade experts, are trying to analyse, endeavouring to explain these revolutions invading our region and find out the reasons for them. Are they instigated abroad, at home, from Israel, or America, from colonisation or occupation, through political, commercial or economic ambitions or interests?

 

Human dignity

Faced with these attempts to analyse the reality of the Arab revolution and the reasons for it, I remember a phrase of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in his message for the World Day of Peace 2009, in which he said, “Every form of externally imposed poverty has at its root a lack of respect for the transcendent dignity of the human person. When man is not considered within the total context of his vocation, and when the demands of a true ‘human ecology’ are not respected, the cruel forces of poverty are unleashed.” (Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 2009, N°. 2)

 

In this sense, I gave a sermon on the Feast of the Annunciation on 24 March, 2011, in the Convent of the Soarite nuns, wishing to show the greatness of the Incarnation of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary. For, when he took a body just like ours, he wished thereby to show the dignity of the human body, and bear the dignity of man, whom God created in his image and likeness, as we read in Genesis, concerning man’s creation by God.

                               

What great need our world has of understanding the dignity of the body and the dignity of God! Man’s dignity, as God respected it and created him in his image and likeness, with his freedom, value, development and education.

Our world today, the Arab world in particular since the beginning of this year is in revolution for human dignity, the dignity of man, his freedom and value.

 

God’s dignity, respect for him and respect for his divine image are linked to respect for the image of man. There can be no respect for God without respect for man, as Saint John said, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4: 20) That is one of the reasons for wars and revolutions throughout the whole world.

 

The Feast of the Annunciation is the Feast of the Entry of God into human history and life through Mary and her blood.  He is called Emmanuel, God with us, and when man rejects God, or distances Him from his life, man’s whole life is degraded, shaken and disfigured. An Arab proverb says, “Be with God and be not afraid,” and on the other hand, when man removes God from his thoughts, conduct, ethics, politics, economics, social life, family, job, work, he lands in trouble, loss, error, anxiety, despair, and allows jealousy, dictatorship, violence, terrorism and fundamentalism into his heart. Those things become his programme instead of the commandments of God, his principles of faith, and his religious values, and that is the tragedy of our world.  This tragedy invades with a destructive power like a tsunami, due to the fact of the removal of God from man’s life.

 

Let us take down poor people from the cross and let the Arab world be taken down from the cross

In my letter for Lent, 2009, I wrote:

With trust and humility, I would like in this Lenten Letter to launch the slogan, “No more poor people after today in the Arab world,” and call upon everyone to work to realise, at least in part, this motto in our Melkite Greek Catholic Church[1] – everyone contributing according to his ability and circumstances. I am calling for us to realise this through sustained solidarity and mutual help in our Arab world, where there are plentiful resources, such as oil. Let oil be a weapon against poverty, sickness and disasters! May it accompany the way of the cross in our Arab world and take down poor, sick, suffering and disappointed Arab people from their cross - and lead them to the heights of resurrection.

 

This is an appeal that I am making to my Church and launching in the Arab world, which I love. I would like to be the apostle and servant of this motto, so as to bring this appeal to fruition. I am calling upon each Arab governor and every wealthy businessman or woman, hoping that my call will be heard.

 

I am also ready to be the itinerant apostle of that motto, making my way through the Arab world and spreading that slogan, “No more poverty, no more poor folk in the Arab world.”

 

Besides, I think there is a divine call for us Christians and Muslims to draw upon our common faith values: we find an echo of it in our holy books. It is a call that unites us all around “a common word” (Aal ‘Imran 3:64) [2]and a common action, so that God may walk with us and we may walk together with our peoples, our citizens, along the way of their cross and Golgotha, and help to take them down from their cross. (“I am crucified with Christ,” Letter for Great and Holy Lent 2009)

 

Man’s true bread

Man is hungry and thirsty for God. He needs the values of holy faith, of the word of God, as Scripture says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4: 4; Deuteronomy 8: 3)

               

What our society needs to repair, heal, rebuild, renew, develop and raise it from its fallen state to real resurrection, beauty, transfiguration, radiance and purity, is God.       

 

Man feeds first on the word of God, but he also needs material bread, just as he needs the bread of life. That means, being taught (in schools and universities), medicine, a job, a profession, health insurance, and social security for life, for the future, for old age or disability. People need a good environment that is healthy and clean in beautiful, natural surroundings, if they are to feel at ease socially, relax and enjoy themselves.

 

That is man’s true bread. These are conditions indispensible to his dignity. Opportunities also have to be found for people to rise, excel, specialise, give, be productive and serve their country. They must also be able to be in relation with their fellow-citizens, in fellowship with them, understand them and co-operate with them for a better world. So they will be able to enjoy freedom, dignity, security, assurance and stability. They will look towards broad horizons of hope, love, universal brotherhood, freedom of conscience, faith and specific identity.          

 

It is really to resurrection from the dead that the Arab world’s way of the cross, the way of these demonstrations and displays, must lead. Resurrection must be the fruit of its sufferings, blood, thirst, hunger, wounds and many victims.

               

The Church’s role

Our Churches and religious congregations must continue their way of ecclesial and national faith, developing their worship, and educational, cultural, health, youth and social services. Churches ought to take part in the resurrection of Arab countries and contribute to the social, national, political and economic project in all our homelands, where we have among our faithful, businessmen, politicians and economists.

 

We must redouble our efforts, beginning with the propositions and conclusion of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, held in Rome in October, 2010.

 

I have circulated to everyone a five-year plan, containing a bunch of thoughts, projects, works and initiatives that can help our churches participate in the service of development of our societies and homelands. We exhort everyone to study this five-year plan and put forward suitable proposals for furthering it. We hope to be able to deal with this five-year plan in our synod to be held at our patriarchal residence at Ain Traz in June 2011. We are counting very much on this work in order to accompany the development of our countries and further support our presence, communion, witness and mission to our countries and to all our citizens whom we love.

               

With His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, in his Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace 2009, (cited above) we say that the Christian community is “faithful to this summons from the Lord,” and “will never fail, then, to assure the entire human family of her support through gestures of creative solidarity, not only by giving from one's surplus, but above all by a change of life-styles, of models of production and consumption, and of the established structures of power which today govern societies.” (N°. 15)

 

Unity of the Arab world

We should like the League of Arab States and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to be able really to deal with this state of revolution in the Arab world by developing together a new programme for a new Arab Middle East: a really new programme, that we, not others, will set out, containing the conditions for a worthy life for all Arab citizens, Christian and Muslim, in this Middle East, cradle of religions, cultures and civilisations.

 

The unity of the Arab world is an important condition for coping with the serious development of these popular revolutions, or intifada.

 

If Arab countries do not manage to resolve together, univocally, these tragic, bloody developments, with wisdom, prudence, sense of responsibility, openness and a really clear plan that is transparent and sincere, the future of the Arab world looks very dark for all of us. No Arab country can be outside the evolution of this revolution.

 

Today more than ever, and not tomorrow, we need a sense of awakening, counsel, and a joint Arab social plan. Today, more than ever, we need a vision of an Arab Muslim-Christian future with immense horizons. Otherwise, our Arab world, with its various denominations of Muslim and Christian citizens, is liable to dislocation and division. This Arab world will crumble into isolated confessional statelets, fighting and hating one another.

 

Peace: the key to the future

On the other hand, it should be said that there exists a very significant element for realising all these hopes: peace. The Arab world cannot realise the hopes of Arab nations, especially those of young people, for freedom and democracy, if it does not work very seriously,    with the mutual help of the West, to bring about just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, Palestine. Strength is needed for victory and that comes from unity and love among Arab countries. Unity will never be defeated and love will never fail or be disappointed.

               

A dream: an Arab Muslim-Christian spiritual summit

Perhaps I am being naive, a dreamer or idealist, if I dare to put forward an idea or project for holding an Arab Muslim-Christian spiritual summit? This is a call for a joint plan, for our Arab world to be enriched and inspired by the values of our Islamic and Christian faith, so that life can be better for all our citizens. I place this thought and dream in the hearts, minds, prayers and dreams of all the men and women who read this letter. God will grant our dreams to bear fruits of faith, love and hope.

 

 

Call to prayer

Dear brothers and sisters,

This year the Christian world of East and West, all our Churches are celebrating the Feast of the Resurrection together on the same day. We hope to be able to continue to celebrate together the greatest feast of the Christian faith.

 

We are living through difficult times, walking together with our Arab brothers and sisters along the way of the cross and passion, such as the Arab world has never known in its history. We call upon you to raise fervent prayers, especially during Holy Week, that we call Passion Week, for all those who have fallen, the victims of these bloody revolutions, for the afflicted, bereaved, injured in hospital, refugees, those who have fled the horrors of revolution; for children, students who cannot continue their university studies and even perhaps who are losing their future, those who are living in a climate of fear, violence, revenge, revolution, hatred and aggression. All that will surely have a great influence on their manners, characters, personalities, and their lives of faith and citizenship, and their social, political and environmental life.

 

We shall pray in our churches, monasteries, parishes, homes and in the intimacy of our families for our dear, suffering Arab world and for the whole world, for more fellowship, love and unity. We shall pray for the army, the security services, and the police that God may give them wisdom, prudence and sagacity to take suitable steps in these tragic situations. We shall pray especially for our governments, kings, presidents and all those who bear responsibility in our countries. We shall also pray that they respond to the demands, requests, hopes, sufferings, longings and needs of all their citizens; that they endeavour to establish a social and political programme, and so contribute to ensuring a worthy life for all citizens of their countries.

 

Our Arab world! You have a resurrection

Saint John the Evangelist brings us the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus, friend of Jesus. Jesus speaks to Martha, Lazarus’ sister, saying, “Thy brother shall rise again.” (John 11: 23)

 

We say the same to every faithful person, to everyone, “You have a resurrection!” We tell our dear Arab world, “You have a resurrection too.”  We call on our governments in our dear Arab countries to work seriously, with dedication, sincerity, veracity and without delay on a clear plan to build a better future for their peoples, so that they will be able to say to their nations, “You have a resurrection. You, citizen, will arise. You will hold your head high. You are worthy in the Lord’s eyes and in your homeland. You have a resurrection.”

 

We hope that the joys of the Resurrection of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, will invade our Arab world and that all our dear citizens, both Christian and Muslim, will then be able to rejoice together, as we suffer together! And as we walk together on the way of the passion and cross, we shall walk together on the roads of the joyful resurrection.    

 

Resurrection Hymns!

In the cadences of the Resurrection hymns, we should like to bring this joy, hope, gladness, to the hearts of all men and women, driving out from among us fear, distress and anxiety! And with the hymns of the Paschal Canon of Saint John of Damascus, son of Syria, we continue to sing throughout the whole world,

 

This is the day of Resurrection, let us be radiant, O ye peoples: Pascha, the Lord's Pascha; for Christ God hath brought us from death to life, and from earth unto Heaven as we sing the triumphal hymn. (First Ode)

 

We also sing:

Yesterday I was buried with thee, O Christ. Today I arise with thee in thy resurrection. Yesterday I was crucified with Thee: Glorify me with thee, O Saviour, in thy kingdom. (Third Ode)

 

We turn to our Mother, the Mother of God who accompanied her Son on the way of the cross, the Via Dolorosa! She accompanies us on the way of the cross and passion! With her, we rejoice on the day of her Son’s Resurrection, which is our resurrection and that of our homelands and all our fellow-citizens.

 

We shall sing with faith, hope, love, trust, strengthening one another, in fellowship with one another, loving each other, in our Churches, homelands, and societies, with all our fellow-citizens (Christian and Muslim, men and women) where we shall be able to sing the hymn of the Resurrection and Life,

 “Christ is risen from the dead! trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs he has given life.”

 

With my affection and blessing,

Gregorios III

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem     

 

 

Translation from French: V. Chamberlain
Appendix

On the tenth anniversary of the pilgrim visit of His Holiness, Blessed John Paul II, to Syria in the steps of Saint Paul, son of Damascus, and on the occasion of his forthcoming beatification, we publish his prayer for peace. He uttered it in the town of Quneitra on Monday 7 May, 2001.

 

This prayer will be read in all the churches of Canada on Great and Holy Friday, 22 April 2011.

 

PRAYER FOR PEACE[3]

Of the Blessed John Paul II
Golan Heights, Quneitra, Syria - May 7, 2001

God of infinite mercy and goodness,
with grateful hearts we pray to you today
in this land where Saint Paul once walked.
To the nations he proclaimed the truth that God was in Christ
reconciling the world to himself. (cf. 2 Corinthians 5: 19)
May your voice resound in the hearts of all men and women,
as you call them to follow the path of reconciliation and peace,
and to be merciful as you are merciful.


Lord, you speak words of peace to your people
and to all who turn to you in their hearts. (cf. Psalm 85:9)
We pray to you for the peoples of the Middle East.
Help them to break down the walls of hostility and division
and to build together a world of justice and solidarity.


Lord, you create new heavens and a new earth. (cf. Isaiah 65: 17)
To you we entrust the young people of these lands.
In their hearts they aspire to a brighter future;
strengthen their resolve to be men and women of peace,
and heralds of new hope to their peoples.


Father, you make justice spring forth from the earth. (cf. Isaiah 45: 8)
We pray for the civil leaders of this region
that they may strive to satisfy their peoples’ rightful aspirations,
and educate the young in the ways of justice and peace.
Inspire them to work generously for the common good,
to respect the inalienable dignity of every person
and the fundamental rights which have their origin
in the image and likeness of the Creator
impressed upon each and every human being.


In a special way we pray for the leaders of this noble land of Syria.
Grant them wisdom, farsightedness and perseverance;
may they never yield to discouragement in their challenging task
of building the lasting peace for which their people yearn.


Heavenly Father,
in this place which saw the conversion of the Apostle Paul,
we pray for all who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Guide their steps in truth and love.
May they be one as you are one, with the Son and the Holy Spirit.
May they bear witness to the peace which surpasses all understanding (cf. Philippians 4: 7)
and to the light which triumphs over the darkness of hostility, sin and death.

Lord of heaven and earth, Creator of the one human family,
we pray for the followers of all religions.
May they seek your will in prayer and purity of heart;
may they adore you and worship your holy name.
Lead them to find in you the strength to overcome fear and distrust,
to grow in friendship and to live together in harmony.


Merciful Father,
may all believers find the courage to forgive one another,
so that the wounds of the past may be healed,
and not be a pretext for further suffering in the present.
May this happen above all in the Holy Land,
this land which you have blessed with so many signs of your Providence,
and where you have revealed yourself as the God of Love.


To the Mother of Jesus, the ever blessed Virgin Mary,
we entrust the men and women living in the land where Jesus once lived.
Following her example, may they listen to the word of God,
and have respect and compassion for others,
especially those who differ from them.
May they be inspired to oneness of heart and mind,
in working for a world that will be a true home for all its peoples!


Salam! Salam! Salam!
Amen!