Damascus Road Prayers: Advent 2

…as if He were a seed in our garden, or a small flash of light for our pupil, He shone forth and diffused and filled the earth. (Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns for the Nativity) Days crack like soil. In the parts of the world where summer parches we wait like potholes for the rain.Continue reading “Damascus Road Prayers: Advent 2”

Damascus Road Prayers: Advent 1

He rose up like a shoot before Him, a shoot from the parched earth; something spoken secretly occurred openly today. (St Ephraim the Syrian, Nativity Hymns 1) TV screens bear children’s prayers to a jolly man in red. My wish list is as full as my cupboard; my spirit is silent today. From department storeContinue reading “Damascus Road Prayers: Advent 1”

Damascus Road Prayers: Saphro (Morning Prayer)

When you are able, bend your knees, when you cannot, make intercession in your mind, ‘at evening and at morning and at midday’. (St Ephraim the Syrian) From the rising of the sun – whatever morning reveals – to the setting of the same – You remain. What ruins lie at our feet – whateverContinue reading “Damascus Road Prayers: Saphro (Morning Prayer)”

Damascus Road: Pre-War

In Damascus, people whisper when out in public. When a waiter arrives at a table, people stop talking… Then he said what I kept hearing over and over on this trip: “Syrians cannot do this to other Syrians.” (Janine di Giovanni, “Seven Days in Syria”) In the days before spring burst in war, some stillContinue reading “Damascus Road: Pre-War”

Damascus Road: Paris Interlude

Now it happens in places with names we know: near streets we have walked, in stadiums and concert halls, in coffee shops, where violence never breathed before, where we were safe. Now we look for signs of links to Syria, to al-Assad, ISIL, and cells which fire. Nothing has prepared us, yet to others thisContinue reading “Damascus Road: Paris Interlude”

Damascus Road: Breach

For the occasions past and present, when sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by action or omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters, may the Lord grant us forgiveness. (Pope John Paul II, May 2001) I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. (Nicene Creed) The year the towers fell, John PaulContinue reading “Damascus Road: Breach”

Damascus Road Prayers: Lilyo (Midnight Prayer)

Behold all that are asleep, awake and rise to sing praise… (From Psalm 148, Midnight Prayer liturgy, Syriac Orthodox Church) Could we have seen it coming? Was our slumber too deep? Midnight’s for sleeping, yet You do not sleep, nor did You sleep as boundaries changed and names were rearranged. You did not sleep asContinue reading “Damascus Road Prayers: Lilyo (Midnight Prayer)”

Damascus Road: Cradle, Body, Light

Your garments glisten, my brethren, as snow;—and fair is your shining in the likeness of Angels. (St Ephraim the Syrian, “Hymn for the Baptised”) You are the light of the world; you are the body of Life. The persecutor kicked you; you kick within yourself, yet you remain – kept, preserved; you cannot be hidden. You are the beatenContinue reading “Damascus Road: Cradle, Body, Light”

Damascus Road Prayers: Sootoro (Prayer before retiring to bed)

While my body silent lies,  May Thy power keep vigil;  Let my sleep in Thy presence Be like the rising incense. (St Ephraim the Syrian). What can we offer? The day is proud in its confidence; night is helpless. If they come, our shelters are weak, our bags packed, our feet ready – yet theContinue reading “Damascus Road Prayers: Sootoro (Prayer before retiring to bed)”

Damascus Road Prayers: Ramsho (Evening Prayer)

This day are opened, our mouths to give thanks. They who opened the breaches, have opened my sons’ mouths. (St Ephraim the Syrian, The Nisibene Hymns) The night begins our day; we raise our open mouths to praise. The sky falls in orange sleep, but wait expectant of the dawn. The gates are breached; theContinue reading “Damascus Road Prayers: Ramsho (Evening Prayer)”