Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday and the Cross of Christians in the Middle East


Eastern Rite Catholics Abbot Nicholas and Fr. Maximos sing a service in Holy Week.
On this Good Friday it is perhaps especially important to remember the heavy cross that our brothers and sisters in the Middle East at this time both Catholic and Orthodox who have been in those lands for many centuries, indeed some who can date there existence to the time of the Apostles and the early Church.

As Latin Rite Catholics it is important to remember that the Church breathes with two lungs of both East and West. Below are statements from Vatican II, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

"The Catholic Church holds in high esteem...the Eastern Churches, their liturgical rite, ecclesiastical traditions, and Christian way of life." (Vatican II, Decree on the East-ern Churches, no. 100.) 

"Our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters are very conscious of being the living bearers of this tradi-tion….The members of the Catholic Church of the Latin tradition must also be fully acquainted with this treas-ure….In the East are found the riches of spiritual tradi-tions which are given expression in monastic life espe-cially…." (Pope John Paul II, Orientale Lumen, nos, 1, 6.)

"The Eastern Churches have a duty [in America] to maintain their own...doctrinal, liturgical and monastic witness." (Pope John Paul II, Exhortation to the Catholic Churches in the Americas, 1998.)

  "That the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church." (Pope Benedict XVI, special prayer intention for November, 2011.)

Despite the difficult times that many of this peoples are facing currently we know that the Cross is for all of us the Tree of Life not Death.

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