The Antioch Patriarchate received the annual spiritual retreat of Nativity for the clergy and monastics of Damascus, who gathered under the protection of Saint Mary’s Church in the presence of Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, and the Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church and Patriarch of Antioch and of All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Youssef the First Absi, and the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Cardinal Mario Zenari, with the heads and hierarchs of the Christian Communities in Damascus.
This retreat was an opportunity to reflect on the meanings of Nativity and share the seasons’ greetings.
At the end of the prayer, their Beatitudes and Holinesses addressed a word on Nativity to the present prelates and clergy. Patriarch Joseph I stressed the importance of communicating with others at Nativity through the physical presence among people, as the Lord Jesus did by His Incarnation, and not just relying on social media contact. One should rather seek to meet the other face to face.
Patriarch Mor Ephrem II emphasized the works of charity for the needy, especially in these blessed days when people enjoy serving their fellow man who is in the image and likeness of God. It is the Lord Jesus who first wanted to be born poor to enrich many.
Patriarch John X concluded with a speech expressing the great joy in this meeting around Nativity and thanking everyone for their presence. He spoke of the birth of the Lord Jesus as a divine source of peace, peace from above, stressing that the desired peace in our world today requires essentially the acquisition of inner peace on a personal level. This personal peace is the basic building block of public peace. He wished freedom for every kidnapped person, especially for the Bishops of Aleppo, recovery for the suffering, condolences for the afflicted, and peace and stability for Syria, Lebanon and the whole world.
Then, everyone participated shared a meal of love, after which their Beatitudes and Holinesses accepted the greeting from all those present and offered mutual wishes for a glorious feast and a blessed new year.
Source: Patriarchate of Antioch