Phoenix, July 27, 2023
I come to you from Damascus, a city that, centuries ago, inherited the glory of Antioch. I come with Paschal joy in my heart, a joy that overcomes all sorrow and pain. I carry this joy to you from the light of the Resurrection that I saw on the faces of your brothers and sisters who are struggling to survive in Antioch, the Great City of God. I celebrated the feast of Pascha with them in Antioch, standing upon the ruins of the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral destroyed by the earthquake. However, the earthquake did not destroy the resolve of the Antiochians or their vibrant Church. This Church still defies the cruelty of history and insists on survival by building what was destroyed. This Church bears witness to the sweetness of Christ and to the Antiochian Orthodox heritage.
I come to you from Damascus, from the Street called Straight, where Saul was baptized and after his conversion was named Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. I bring to you the blessings of the Mariamite Cathedral, Our Lady of Saydnaya Convent, and the Protomartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Thekla Convent in the town of Maaloula. The people in this town still speak the ancient language of Christ, despite all the tragedies that have afflicted them, and the latest being the terrorist occupation that uprooted them from their homes and destroyed their sanctuaries. Now, they are rebuilding with much determination and resolve, offering prayers with their sisters and brothers for peace in Syria, and for the return of the displaced and kidnapped people. Here I foremostly remember the Archbishops of Aleppo Boulos and Youhanna, whose kidnapping recapitulates the present-day sufferings of Antioch.
… Read the rest at Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.