Stories On Syria
+ + + + + + + + A PRAYER FOR PEACE IN SYRIA + + + + + + +
In the Name of Jesus Christ, the King of Peace, I call for:
Archangel Michael, who is in charged with divine dispensation to run the affairs of mankind to act according to the mind of Christ. We ask you, Lord of angels, to focus your spiritual presence in Damascus, Marja Square and control the fate of Syria.
We ask you, Lord of angels: liberation of the prisoners, binding the snipers, expelling the strangers, disabling cars with bombs, and consume all corrupted men in the land. Bind and consume all forces of evil and all demonic forces of darkness that operate in Syria and undermine the innocent sons and daughters of God.
Archangel Michael, free by your power the Syrian people from the currents of fear, anger and despair, in order to be able to achieve a better future for them. Help them to accept that they can have the ability to govern and direct their fate according to the will of God. Destroy and burn all past records that refer to the misuse of power by the people, in order to embrace a better future of peace and do constructive works. Help them to take a free choice between the consciousness of death and consciousness of life.
Archangel Michael: Preserve the unity of Syria, or it will fall and be divided. (3 times)
O Mary, mother of Jesus: Send the Light of your Love to the hearts of all the Syrians, in order to love each other. (3 times)
Amen. Grant O Lord our prayers and supplications.
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America wrapped up its fifth annual meeting on September 18, 2014, by issuing a significant "Statement on the Middle East," and a second substantive "Final Statement" of conclusions and goals.
Convening in Dallas, TX, at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, the Assembly tackled a number of topics in their three-day meeting, including the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
Summarizing the discussion, they wrote in their Statement that, in concert with His Beatitude Patriarch John X of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East as well as the other Patriarchs of the East, "we lament and denounce the egregious and barbarous incidents in the area, including religious intolerance and fanaticism, that erode the social fabric and unity of the region, destroying churches, shrines and monuments, which are the common heritage of all Christians and, indeed, all humanity."
On Friday evening, September 5, 2014, The Orthodox Clergy Association of Southeast Texas held a Town Hall Meeting at St. George Orthodox Church in Houston, Texas (with rector The Rev. James Shadid), titled "The Silent Holocaust—The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East." The press release following the event reported that all of the Orthodox, Coptic and Syriac Christian communities in the area participated—approximately 300 persons, including 16 priests. Jurisdictions represented were the Greek Archdiocese (GOA), the Antiochian Archdiocese, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), the Serbian Diocese of Midwestern America, and Coptic and Syriac Dioceses.
There were four speakers, including Hieromonk Bashar (al-Shamany) of the Syriac Orthodox Church. Originally from Mosul, the he spoke about the current situation in the Middle East. Father Bashar's family are currently among the thousands of scattered refugees. A question and answer period followed, and a large collection was taken for the IOCC's relief work in the Middle East.
At the conclusion of the Town Hall, all of the Orthodox clergy offered up the Trisagion Prayers for those who have died.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) remind us that with the new school year, Syrian refugee students are in need of supplies and hygeine items. The notebooks and pencils in the IOCC School Kits provide tools needed to continue learning, while the items in the Hygiene Kits help children maintain their health and dignity. The following IOCC-sponsored kits are offered:
SCHOOL KITS — Imagine going to school without pencil and paper. Children in many of the countries where IOCC works don't have even the most basic of these school supplies. By putting together a School Kit, you can give a less fortunate child the tools needed to succeed in school.
HYGIENE KITS —Basic items like a bar of soap, wash cloth, comb, and bandaids may seem small, but putting them all together in a Hygiene Kit can make an instant difference in an ongoing development program or when disaster strikes.
In a historic meeting on August 17, 2014, His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, hosted His Holiness Mar Ignatius Ephrem II, Patriarch of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, along with a distinguished delegation traveling with him. The meeting took place at the ancient St. George Antiochian Orthodox Monastery located in the "Valley of the Christians" in the town of Meshtaye in northwestern Syria. Before his election to the Patriarchate, His Holiness served as Archbishop of the Eastern United States for the Syriac Orthodox Church.
A complete English translation of the welcoming speech by Patriarch John X can be read at Notes on Arab Orthodoxy. Patriarch John X said in part:
It is a great pleasure for me to say to you, "How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together!"
The Psalmist once said this and today your sweet faces and the smiles of your children say this. The stone of this holy monastery say this. If they could speak, they would sing of their longing to see loved ones and would chant welcome to them all as living stones in the body of the Antiochian Church that first sang the name of Christ and spread it to the lips of all humankind. We welcome you most warmly. It is better for us to say: welcome to your home in the Monastery of Saint George. Our meeting today is a message to the world that the seeds of Christian unity will by watered first by us in Antioch, just as Jesus' disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
At the July 2014 Archdiocesan organizational meetings at the Antiochian Village Heritage and Learning Center, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America (AOCWNA), represented by North American Board President Violet Robbat, and Vice President/Project Coordinator Dianne O'Regan, announced the total contributions received to date for the 2013-2014 Project: "Help the Orphans of War in Syria." On behalf of the Antiochian Women across North America, these women were honored to present a check to His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph for $283,055.55, the largest amount ever raised in a single year during the forty year history of the Antiochian Women!
Middle Eastern Violence and the Place of Christians in the Region Addressed in Patriarchal Statements
The Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has issued two statements regarding, first, the violence in Iraq, Syria, and Gaza, and second, the place of Christians throughout the region.
At a time when Syria's wounds have been bleeding for more than three years, amidst the wounds of Iraq, which has experienced conflict since the 1980's, amidst the unrest that is sweeping countries near and far, and amidst the world's indifference to Palestine's wounds, which have not healed in almost seventy years, these days in particular we are witnessing a multiplication of these wounds in the expulsion of Mosul's Christians and the all-out assault on Gaza amidst a disgraceful international silence.
The cycle of violence sweeping Iraq and Syria, expelling peaceful citizens has not let up, as recent events in Iraq and specifically in Mosul have completed the series of murder, religious prejudice, and terror.
We strongly condemn attacks on any segment of society in this Middle East and we especially condemn the attack on the Christians of Mosul and their being compelled by force of arms to change their religion under the penalty of paying the Jizya or abandoning their homes and having their property confiscated.
The Children's Relief Fund (CRF), with Fr. George Rados as National Director, is a charity of the Antiochian Archdiocese that has been supporting the education of needy children in the Middle East through scholarships since 1983. In 2012 alone, the CRF assisted 420 young students with their schooling. Since 2012, the Fund has also been supporting the children of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
The Fund facilitates sponsorships of individual children, and the entire donated gift amount is always distributed to the sponsored child. Sponsors may apply online, and will subsequently receive photos of their children, and information about their families and circumstances. Exchanging letters at Christmas time is encouraged, and for those who can travel to visit their children in Palestine or Lebanon, visits are possible.
The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page of the recently remodeled CRF Website offers details on sponsorship, and points out that in addition to individual sponsors, groups such as SOYO may also sponsor children. Stirring testimonials and photos of children are also available.
The International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) continues to alleviate the suffering caused by the ongoing strife in the Middle East, both in the new conflict that has arisen in Gaza, and in Syria, where people have lived for several years under civil war. (Donate through the IOCC's online portal.)
In the Gaza Strip, the most intense violence in nearly two years has claimed over 100 lives, including 23 children, injured more than 800 people, leaving families with damaged and destroyed homes. IOCC representatives are assessing the emerging humanitarian needs of those caught in the conflict, notes the article "IOCC Mobilizes to Provide Urgent Relief for Families Caught in Gaza Conflict."
An article about malnourished Syrian children in Lebanon's refugee camps notes that "since January, IOCC has screened more than 13,000 Syrian refugee children for malnutrition and provided treatment to those in need of emergency nutrition. IOCC's health workers are also taking preventive measures with new mothers...by counseling them on the importance of emergency nutrition and breastfeeding for their young children."
The following official translation has been provided by the Patriarchate of Antioch:
The Third Ordinary Session of the Holy Synod of Antioch was held between 1 and July 4, 2014. His Beatitude Patriarch John X presided over the meeting, with the participation of Their Eminences, the Metropolitans: Spiridon (Archdiocese of Zahleh and dependencies), Georges (Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon and dependencies), Youhanna (Archdiocese of Lattakia and dependencies), Elias (Archdiocese of Beirut and dependencies), Elia (Archdiocese of Hama and dependencies), Elias (Archdiocese of Tyre, Sidon and dependencies), Antonio (Archdiocese of Mexico, Venezuela and dependencies), Sergios (Archdiocese of Chile), Damaskinos (Archdiocese of Brazil and dependencies), Saba (Archdiocese of Houran and All Jabal Al Arab), Paul (Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand), Georges (Archdiocese of Homs and dependencies), Silouan (Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and all Argentina), Basilos (Archdiocese of Akkar and dependencies), Ephrem (Archdiocese of Tripoli, El- Koura and dependencies), Ignatius (Archdiocese of France, Western and Southern Europe) and Isaac (Archdiocese of Germany and Central Europe).
Regarding the forthcoming press conference scheduled for May 7, 2014 by Congressman Frank R. Wolf and Congresswoman Anna G Eshoo, during which a statement entitled “Pledge of Solidarity & Call to Action on behalf of Christians and Other Small Religious Communities in Egypt, Iraq and Syria” is to be released, this statement constitutes the official response of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (the “Antiochian Archdiocese”), an archdiocese of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East (the “Church of Antioch”).
We appreciate all efforts to bring peace to the Middle East and urge all concerned with the situation experienced by Christians in the region to use every effort to bring peace to the region for all citizens of these nations. To those who have expressed willingness to listen to the voices of Christians of the Middle East and to respond to their concerns, we draw their attention to the Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, gathered in Turkey, 6-9 March 2014, in which they unanimously adopt the views of the Church of Antioch.