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 14th July - 3pm Great Vespers, 4pm Divine Liturgy for Sunday

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.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Patriarch Gregorios preaches at Westminster Cathedral for Aid to the Church in Need

On Saturday 19 October, Greek-Catholic Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, Gregorios III, who is based in Damascus, Syria, and Beirut, Lebanon, preached at mass attended by the large community of supporters of Aid to the Church in Need. The Society was represented by Fr Mark Woodruff, vice-chairman to demonstrate our keen support to the work of ACN UK.

He movingly described the faith and hope of the Christian people, but emphasised how strongly they still stand united with their fellow citizens in Syria, a country until recently renowned in the Middle East as a majority-Muslim land for its mutual respect and religious harmony. The war is not a civil war among the Syrians, who would not tolerate the atrocities against people and the desecration of sanctuaries, but inflicted on the population by extremist Islamists coming from far away who know nothing of Syria, Arab society and its values shared by Christians and Muslims alike, or the history together of the Christian faith and Islam in a place that is also part of the Holy Land.

Patriarch Gregorios mentioned the school he had set up on the outskirts of Damascus for the Aramaic Christian children ejected from their villages, so that their language, faith and hopes might not be lost but one day restored to their home. He also told us that the day before, a bomb had exploded by the Thomas Gate of Damascus and killed a large number of people, including a 5 year old girl, the daughter of the mayor of Maloula. He described how Maloula, where the language of Christ himself is still spoken, is now a ghost town, with its churches and monasteries overrun by foreign invaders - not so-called Syrian rebels - homes looted and the Syrian government bombarding the village still further to dislodge the Islamist fighters. The mayor, with his people, had brought his family to Damascus in the hope of safety, only to endure a more terrible tragedy.

In a longer address in Westminster Cathedral Hall after the mass, he showed pictures of the funeral Liturgy he had offered for the three Melkite men who had been confronted by Islamists with an invitation to convert and deny Christ. One of the young men had said, "I am a Christian. We have always followed Christ. If you want to kill me for Christ, do it now." And so he was immediately murdered, a martyr.

In thanking Aid to the Church in Need for its help, spiritual and material, he pleaded for the support not to come not just for the Christians, but for what the Christians offer to others - the ministry of reconciliation that the Church in Syria had learned from its great teacher, St Paul. He also made it clear that, whatever the Western media says about Syria, and rebels and civil war against the government, Christians are the bridgebuilders, they serve as Christ, they witness to him as people of peace. Along with the other Syrian Christian leaders (Patriarch Gregorios is president of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria), he has urged Christians not to take up arms and fight, but to defend peace, by staying, by loving and serving and hoping, worshipping Christ with faith and joy.

He challenged the Western view that Christianity has no real place in the Muslim Arab Middle East. Yet, he said, the Church came to Syria three weeks after Pentecost: among those who heard the apostles speak in their own tongue were people from Damascus. One of these was the elder Ananias, who took in St Paul, healed, baptised and instructed him. Thus, said the Patriarch, while Christ was born in Bethlehem, Christianity was born in Syria.

The Patriarch announced that on November 21, the Melkite Catholic bishops will make a synodal visitation to Pope Francis in Rome, calling on the various dicasteries for assistance in the strengthening of the Christian presence and life in the Middle East. In the same tour, the Patriarch will be participating in Geneva II, the forthcoming conference to bring peace to Syria, and hopefully to Israel and Palestine in the end too.

In the following film, senior clergy in Syria and displaced Christians describe what is happening in Syria and the desire for peace to come and the fighters to go.

After the presentation from the Patriarch and Sister Hanan of the Good Shepherd Sisters, operating a pharmacy and clinic in eastern Lebanon, John Pontifex presented his remarkable report on the intensified persecution of Christians around the world, but especially in the interface with Islam. Here is the link to the ACN UK report, Persecuted but not forgotten, with a telling map of the countries where persecution of and discrimination against Christians is on the rise to severe levels. And here is that John Pontifex is presenting:

A map of the 30 countries where persecution of Christians is of most concern. Photo: Aid to the Church in Need

Red = Extreme Persecution
Black = High Persecution
White = Moderate Persecution

See http://www.acnuk.org/persecution for more explanation.

The Patriarch announced that Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster has called a Day of Prayer for the Church in Syria for December 4th, the feast of St John of Damascus.
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