From the desk of a brother in Christ, Fr. Deacon Nicholas B:
(printed with permission)
(printed with permission)
As you are aware, the suffering of our fellow Christians in Syria has come to the forefront of our minds because of the kidnapping of Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo, the blood brother of the Patriarch of Antioch, and his brother Metropolitan of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo. I wanted to share a wonderful resource for following the events there - Notes on Arab Orthodoxy. I've been so touched by the courage and faith of the posts (especially given the context of Holy Week), that I wanted to share some profound quotes and the link with all of you - both for edification and also for prayers for those who will not be able to celebrate the services because of these tragic events.
First, a letter from the Patriarch of Antioch, John X:
"Therefore I call on everyone, faithful and clergy, to approach Palm Sunday with a new spirit, remembering the Passion of our Lord and connecting it with what we are living today. Let the Resurrection occur in every human heart, as the Lord has raised Lazarus from the dead. Let us work to have Christ triumphantly enter into the world's heart through our service and ministry, as He entered victoriously to Jerusalem."
From Father Younes Younes:
"It slipped their [referring to the kidnappers'] minds that there is someone who preceded them in their sin and dared to conspire against the Good Shepherd and to crucify the Lord of Glory. He thought that the affair would end with a stone rolled over the door of the tomb. Did those who kidnapped Sayyedna Paul and Sayyedna Youhanna not learn that the Shepherd was struck but the sheep were not scattered, since they were established on the rock of faith? That the Shepherd was crucified and His Church was born from His pierced side? That the Shepherd was buried, but rose victorious over death?
And one more, from Archimandrite Touma Bitar:
Now, we pray to God that He safely return the two bishops. This comforts, strengthens, and makes firm, especially the faltering among us! But let us pray to God first of all that He strengthen the two bishops, wherever they are, to make them perfectly firm in faith and in bearing witness to Christ the Lord, and that He repel from them the snares, so that they will not grow weak. This is part of the battle that is not against flesh and blood, because "our struggle... is against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12)...
All three of these posts are beautiful and inspiring, and I highly recommend visiting the website and reading them in their entirety. There is an online petition to the White House if you would like to participate in signing here. You can see the statement of the Assembly of Bishops to Secretary of State, John Kerry, here.
Please continue your prayers for the two hierarchs and for their flocks and all those suffering on behalf of the Faith.