As the Easter season comes to a close with the great Solemnity of Pentecost, we would like to share some recent news from our missionaries in Aleppo, Syria. Although Holy Week passed eight weeks ago, we received this chronicle in late April due to power-outages in Aleppo. Please join us in prayer for the people of Syria, especially Syrian Christians under the care of our Religious Family and all of those under the care of Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yaziji and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim, who were kidnapped in late April.
– “CHRIST IS RISEN!”
– “HE IS TRULY RISEN!”
This ancient Easter greeting, still used by the Syrian Christians, has a very strong connotation during these difficult times in Aleppo in which we live. Consider that in some parts of the world, people take advantage of the Easter week to go on vacation … The contrast is tremendous … Here, the difficulties to move around in the city are multiplied every day due to the checkpoints, and to go outside means being exposed to the risk of being killed in any corner, due to the permanent clashes and shootings. Nevertheless, the churches were crowded with faithful during these celebrations ….
Moreover, during these days, there were other difficulties. The power outage lasted for 8 days. And obviously, the other services were disrupted one by one: we were without internet, phone, and finally without water.
Under such painful circumstances, to hear the people say with conviction: “Christ is risen!” and to respond with renewed fervor: “He is truly risen!” so stir up the emotions as to bring tears to the eyes.
Not that it is not easy to stand firm in the faith. On Good Friday, at 3 a.m., the rebels stormed a mainly Christian neighborhood because of its strategic location in the city. Its inhabitants lived through hours of terror, watching how their neighbors and family members were murdered or subjected to violence. The occupants took their homes and vehicles. Finally on Saturday, the inhabitants were allowed to escape. One of the refugees recounts: “I took my three little girls and left. We left with we had on (in pajamas). As we ran, I looked back and saw how our house had been demolished in the bombing …”.
On Easter Monday, Father Rodrigo celebrated Mass for many of these refugee Christian families, who now live in the premises of the Marist Brothers. It was a poignant celebration. Among those who came to thank us and unburden their hearts by telling their stories, there was a young man who said, “Father, because I feel so much pain and dejection because of what we are going through, I had decided not to respond to the Easter greeting. But after participating in this Mass and listening to you, my hope has been raised and I am persuaded deeply. So I have come to say, ‘Christ is risen! – He is truly risen!’.
Happy Easter to all!