Sunday Orthros and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at Holy Virgin Mary Monastery in Saydnaya, Syria - 11/14/10

Saydnaya, Syria

Sayidna JOSEPH led the delegation in the celebration of the feast of the Holy Apostle Philip, which was recorded for posterity. Some of our delegates once again chanted Orthros, this time with the nuns who followed along the English-language Service Texts that we provided them. We had special visitors join us that day: V. Rev. Fr. Samer Youssef, the pastor of Church of the Redeemer in Los Altos Hills, Calif., as well as his father. In his sermon, Sayidna JOSEPH once again introduced his delegates and told the packed church that we simply wanted to know and love the Church and land of our ancestors.

The nuns offered their famous hospitality after the liturgy, but we had to take turns sitting with them for lack of space and the attention and counsel for which they are constantly sought. No problem—the other half of the group spent even more time and money purchasing icons and holy items to take home to our loved ones. Before we left, we made one more stop to the holy shrine that houses the precious icon of the Virgin Mary that was written by St. Luke the Apostle and Evangelist in the first century. We prayed to her and asked that she bless the remainder of our trip and that she guide us once we left this blessed land.

The rest of the day was also relaxing. We dined at a large outdoor restaurant with more food than we knew what to do with. This lunch was special for Sayidna JOSEPH because his large extended family came to visit their famous uncle and cousin, nephew and brother. The delegates left him so that he could spend some rare quality time with them, and we returned to Old Town Damascus to soak in the local culture.