From the East, the Gospel spread to the whole world. Ex Oriente lux! From the East came Christ, the Light of the world. From the East, the Gospel went out. “Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world (oikoumene).” (Romans 10: 18 and Psalm 18: 4 LXX)
We are writing this letter on the Gospel for the teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the teachings, values and holy message of the Gospel to be our torch, conversion, light, guide and support, especially in this difficult period: we turn to it, read, meditate and walk in the inspiration of its light and find in it consolation, strength, hope and joy in the Resurrection, which we wish for everyone, in all our Arab countries, especially those suffering most: Syria, Lebanon, the Holy Land, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan; resurrection for all Christians celebrating the holy, glorious Feast of Pascha, and for all our fellow-citizens of all denominations, for all are called to be bearers of the Gospel message, the proclamation of resurrection and life, instead of violence, death, killing, destruction, terrorism, enmity, aversion, bigotry… for we have all been created for life, not death, and we hope for resurrection and eternal life. We are the sons and daughters of the Resurrection.
- Encourage pilgrimage to the holy places in Palestine and to monastic places of pilgrimage to the Mother of God and the saints that are scattered through our country. Similarly, visit churches in various Christian communities, in order to become familiar with new spiritual experiences.
- Spiritual retreats, especially in monasteries and convents, for male and female lay-persons and young persons. Attend services held in monasteries and convents and hear talks about their history and mission.
- Use means of communication to proclaim the Gospel, especially with young people who all use these media most, in order to train them to bring the Gospel to their friends.
- Take the opportunity from liturgical celebrations, the Divine Liturgy and other liturgical services, to deepen spiritual life, especially on major feasts, the fasting periods that precede the feasts, of which there are four in the ancient tradition of our Church: the Advent Fast and the Lenten Fast, the Apostles’ Fast and the Dormition Fast.
- Animate liturgical services and help the faithful, especially the young, to take part in them in a personal way, especially the Divine Liturgy, Vespers, the services during Great Lent and the All-night Vigils, to have an atmosphere of prayer and meditation.
- Careful celebration of the sacraments of the Christian life, especially Baptism, holy Chrismation or Myron, Communion and Marriage. The faithful have to be helped to take part actively, especially through using plastified booklets containing explanations of the services’ rich symbolism.
- Priests must prepare their sermons well. Seminarians have to be well prepared in the art of preaching, spiritual counselling and personal accompaniment.
- Tell the faithful about saints’ lives, Church history, how Gospel values have been lived out in difficult conditions requiring heroism and even martyrdom.
- Show the role of icons in our Eastern tradition, as icons are theology in colours and symbols. All aspects of icons help disclose the mystery of Christ. It is important to introduce into our parishes spiritual vigils in front of holy icons, accompanied by theological and spiritual explanations, with intervals of silence and personal prayer. The West has preceded us in organising meditations and night-time silent prayer vigils in front of icons.
- Create a Christian social and communal atmosphere through parish activities, family and other group meetings in the parish. For example, feasts, anniversaries, the opportunity for celebrating the sacraments, meetings of confraternities to exchange personal experiences. We all know how much we need this social atmosphere of faith, especially in the difficult conditions that our country is going through. We have to take advantage of the love of young people for such activities. Indeed, they are best at organising and animating them.
Jesus’ Gospel: my Gospel