Patriarchate News

On April 12, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo on the occasion of Palms Sunday, at St. Georges Patriarchal Cathedral in Bab Touma, Damascus.
 
During the Holy Qurobo, His Holiness spoke about the entrance of our Lord Jesus Christ to Jerusalem and the crowds who welcomed Him as the King of Israel. His Holiness emphasized that the kingdom of Christ is not from this world, therefore He entered Jerusalem in humility and not to show power. His Holiness pointed out that the children were cheering by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit while they were receiving the Lord Jesus and saying: blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel. He also spoke about the people who think of God as a powerful god in the human sense, while the Lord is teaching us, through His modest entrance to Jerusalem, that He is near His people and that the real power is revealed on the cross by the obedience that conquered death and satan.
Concerning the Corona pandemic that is spreading throughout the world, His Holiness offered his condolences to the families of those who passed away, especially the faithful of our church living in Sweden, Istanbul, Belgium or USA, who lost a dear member of their family due to the corona virus. He prayed asking the Lord to strengthen the patients and to comfort the hearts of those who lost someone due to this disease. He assured them that the church is constantly supplicating and asking the Lord to stop this pandemic; he emphasized that, if it weren’t for the divine providence, we wouldn’t be able to celebrate this feast of Palms’ Sunday.
 
During the Holy Qurobo, His Holiness was assisted by their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Mor Anthimos Jack Yacoub, Patriarchal Vicar for the Youth Affairs and Christian Education, and Mor Yacoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of Monks and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary.

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On April 10, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo on the occasion of the 40th day of the Great Lent (Friday of the Forty Days), at Mor Aphrem Church in Mor Aphrem Monastery in Maarat Saydnaya.

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On April 5, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo at St. Georges Patriarchal Cathedral in Bab Touma, Damascus. The Holy Qurobo was attended only by the clergy.

During the Holy Qurobo, His Holiness offered prayers and the service of the departed priests (teshmeshto d’kohne) for the one year commemoration of the passing away of the late Mor Philoxenus Matta Chamoun and Mor Timotheos Aphrem Aboudi, of blessed memory.

His Holiness also prayed for the full recovery of all the people infected with the corona virus and all the sick. He also prayed and asked the Lord to protect all people throughout the world, especially those who are vulnerable.

During the Holy Qurobo, His Holiness was assisted by their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, and Mor Anthimos Jack Yacoub, Patriarchal Vicar for the Youth Affairs and Christian Education.

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On March 25, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo on the occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation, at the Grotto of the Belt of the Holy Virgin Mary, at Mor Aphrem Monastery in Maarat Saydnaya.
 
During the Holy Qurobo, His Holiness was assisted by His Eminence Archbishop Mor Yacoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of the Monks and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary. The Holy Qurobo was attended by their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Anthimos Jack Yacoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Christian Education, and Mor Boutros Kassis, Patriarchal Assistant, as well as the monks and seminarians.
 
In his sermon, His Holiness spoke about the journey of lent the middle of which we have reached, thanking the Lord for the blessings that we are receiving in this lent. He spoke about the pandemic that is spreading and explained that disease is not a punishment from God, because God is merciful and loves people; He wishes that all be saved and takes care of the smallest details of our lives. His Holiness commended the faithful to seek the Lord’s protection while they are aware of their responsibilities towards themselves and others. He spoke about the importance of the Feast of Annunciation which the church is celebrating today. It reminds us of the obedience of the Virgin Mary and her total submission to the will of God, having full faith in His promises. His Holiness emphasized that the Lord is offering us a true example of faith in these difficult times through the Virgin Mary who accepted the challenge of appearing pregnant to the society, but being strengthened by her faith that the Lord is with her and will not let anything harm her. His Holiness then spoke about the faith of King Abgar who heard about Jesus Christ and believed in Him. After a short historical overview about the kingdom of Urhoy, His Holiness explained the story of King Abgar who was sick and sought Jesus to be healed by Him. His Holiness concluded by calling the faithful to be like Mary and Abgar, i.e. to believe and trust the Lord, knowing that what is impossible for men is possible for God.

 

On March 24, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II attended the spiritual meditation which was prepared on the occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation. The meditation was held at the Grotto of the Belt of the Virgin Mary, at Mor Aphrem Monastery in Maarat Saydnaya. The monks and seminarians of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary participated in the spiritual meditation and the prayers which were offered to the Virgin Mary seeking her intercession to stop the pandemic spread of Corona virus.

Their Eminences Archbishops: Mor Yacoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of Monks and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary, Mor Anthimos Jack Yacoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Christian Education, and Mor Boutros Kassis, Patriarchal Assistant, also attended the prayers and meditation.

At the beginning of the meditation, His Holiness gave a spiritual talk encouraging the clergy and faithful to pray for God seeking His mercies, especially in these difficult times that we are living in. He also hoped that everyone will seize the opportunity of the Feast of the Annunciation to ask for the intercession of the Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, to stop the pandemic spread of the Corona virus which is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world. His Holiness also prayed for the medical teams throughout the world who are helping the patients infected with this virus. He offered prayers for the recovery of all the sick, especially the patients who were infected with the virus.

The monks and seminarians offered prayers and chanted hymns while some read excerpts from the writings of Mor Aphrem and Mor Yacoub of Sarough, inspired by their poems on the Annunciation.

At the end of the meditation, His Holiness offered the intercessory prayer for the Virgin Mary (Shahroyto) for the recovery of the sick and the protection of all people from Corona.

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On March 20, 2020, on the occasion of the 6th Annual Memorial of the Departure of Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas of blessed memory (March 21, 2014), His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II held a special service (teshmeshto d-Kumre) for the departed patriarchs at the tombs of the patriarchs after the evening prayer at Mor Aphrem Monastery in Maarat Saydnaya.
 
His Eminence Mor Yacoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for the Affairs of Monks and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary in Maarat Saydnaya, attended the service as well as the monks and seminarians.
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On March 16, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II met their Excellencies the Archbishops of Damascus: Armenian Orthodox Archbishop of Damascus Armash Nalbandian, Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Vicar Aphrem Maalouli, Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Assistant Moussa Al-Khoury, Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Assistant Youhanna Batch, Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Damascus Mar Youhanna Jihad Battah, Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Damascus Joseph Arnaouti, Rev. Fr. Raymond Gergess, General Vicar of the Latin Bishop in Damascus, at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Bab Touma, Damascus, following the regular meeting of the Bishops of Damascus.
 
The meeting was attended by their Eminences: Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khoury, Patriarchal Vicar in the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus, Mor Anthimos Jack Yakoub, Patriarchal Vicar for Youth Affairs and Christian Education, Mor Boutros Kassis, Patriarchal Assistant, and Mor Yacoub Babawi, Patriarchal Vicar for Monks Affairs and the Administration of Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary in Maarat Saydnaya.
 
During the meeting, their Excellencies discussed the issues that are of importance for the faithful in Damascus and prayed for the health and protection of all the people, especially with the spread of corona virus.
 

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Statement

Issued by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East

Concerning the Corona Virus

Damascus – March 10, 2020

The fast spreading of Corona virus in many countries around the world created panic among the people; it necessitated the change of many daily customs and practices. Many faithful are raising questions concerning some ecclesiastical rituals and practices during the Holy Qurobo and church meetings.

Therefore, we issue the following instructions:

  • Participating in the Holy Qurobo on Sundays and Feast days is part of the duties of every Christian. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the churches open for the faithful – except when officially required otherwise by governments closing public places of worship. Caution should be taken and sanitizers should be made available in the churches. People are advised to avoid touching people, icons or the Holy Bible; in these current conditions, it is enough to bow the head as a sign of reverence and respect. Moreover, people showing symptoms of illness are advised to remain at home. They can call a priest to their house to pray for them and to give them Holy Communion.
  • Concerning the exchange of the sign of peace, the handshake should be replaced with bowing the head or placing the hand on the chest.
  • Replacing kissing the bishop’s cross or the priest’s hand with bowing the head before them.
  • Communion is an essential part of the Holy Qurobo; therefore, the faithful should not refrain from taking communion. We strongly believe that the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is a source of bodily and spiritual healing; yet, one can examine the manner with which one receives communion in order not to contribute to the spread of the disease. In this regard, we advise to receive communion in the palm of the hand, which is an old custom that existed in our Syriac Orthodox Church in the first centuries, and spread from it to the church in the west, as we read in the writings of the Church Fathers like Mor Aphrem the Syrian and Mor Philoxenus of Maboug. In this case, the faithful comes forward for Communion with their right palm placed over the left in the form of a cross. Once the Eucharist has been placed upon their hand, it should be respectfully consumed before returning to their place.

We pray for the recovery of all patients, especially those who are infected with the Corona virus. We ask the Divine Providence to protect all.

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On March 2, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II presided over the Midday prayer at Mor Yacoub Baradeus Church in Mor Yacoub Baradeus Monastery in Atchaneh – Lebanon.
 
At the end of the prayer, His Holiness conducted the special service of Shubqono (Forgiveness) during which the clergy and faithful ask forgiveness from one another, on the occasion of the beginning of the Great Lent.
 
In his sermon, His Holiness spoke about the beginning of the spiritual journey of lent, which is a spiritual fight, with forgiveness so that our repentance is built on the solid ground of true love. His Holiness pointed out that God wants all to be saved and this is a sign of his abundant love. He teaches us how to forgive from the bottom of our hearts. His Holiness added that forgiveness should emancipate from an internal feeling, which confirms the inner peace that every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has. He spoke about the three symbols of this service of forgiveness, namely forgiveness, love and inner peace, which help the faithful grow in the spirit.
 
The service was also attended by His Eminence Archbishop Mor Chrysostomos Mikhael Shemoun, Patriarchal Vicar and Director of the Patriarchal Benevolent Institutions in Atchaneh, as well as the monks, nuns and faithful.

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On February 29, 2020, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II attended the Holy Qurobo celebrated by His Beatitude Mor Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, at the Lady of Annunciation Cathedral in Beirut, for the occasion of the feast of Mor Aphrem the Syriac according to the Syriac Catholic Calendar.
 
The Qurobo was also attended by His Beatitude Cardinal Mor Bechara Boutros Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and their Excellencies the bishops of the sister churches.
 
His Holiness was accompanied by His Eminence Mor Theophilus Georges Saliba, Archbishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli, and Very Rev. Raban Joseph Bali, Patriarchal Secretary and Media Office Director.
 
At the end of the Qurobo, His Holiness offered greetings to His Beatitude Patriarch Younan for the occasion, and asked the intercession of Mor Aphrem the Syriac for the Holy Church of God.

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