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The Way of the Cross is what I experience every day as a Syrian

A chat with Maher, a Syrian refugee who carries the cross with another refugee, during the Way of the Cross devotion at #WYD2016

The Way of the Cross is what I experience every day as a Syrian

 

Maher is a Syrian refugee who had to flee his country 6 years ago. When his store was set on fire and burned down, the arsonists left a note: “You will be next”. The alternative was clear – to take up the arms and retaliate, or to escape. Maher would not kill; he could not imagine that one person may deprive another person of their dreams, aspirations and future. At present, with the aid of the Saint’Egidio community, he is living in ltaly. 

Anna Sosnowska: Together with the Saint’Egidio community you will be in charge of the first station of the Way of the Cross.

Maher from Syria: I am most thankful to Saint’Egidio for making it possible for me to come to Poland. I would never dream of visiting your country. Nor would I dream of being able to meet Pope Francis.

I do believe that prayer is the best way to secure peace. Therefore, I sincerely hope that the prayer of all the people gathered here for the World Youth Day will contribute to peace in Syria.

What does the Way of the Cross mean for you? Many find it a difficult kind of prayer.

The Way of the Cross is precisely what I experience first-hand being a Syrian: a lot of blood, suffering and death. We, Syrians do not wish anyone to experience what we need to deal with. When I look at what happened in France recently, I am thinking now about the assassination of a priest, we deal with this in Syria on a daily basis. That is why I have brought my country’s flag specifically for this event.

Do you sometimes ask yourself why you and your country suffer so much?

I do not, since such things simply happen in life. It is true that this is a horror which has been going on for years now and there is no end to it in sight. Everyone is against us. There is no one to speak for us. May God be with us and protect us.

Have you ever blamed God for the evil you have experienced?

God is not to blame for what is going on in Syria; people are to blame for it. Jesus Christ is not a God of murder. He is a God of love and peace.

I talked with Maher minutes before a prayer for peace held as part of the World Youth Day agenda by the Saint’Egidio community. During the service one person read out: “Let us pray for peace in …”. The litany was very long; with each new country added, young people would light another candle at the altar. There was more and more light in the church. Let us only hope that there will be more and more light outside this church, too.

 

 

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Anna Sosnowska

Anna Sosnowska is Editor-in-Chief of Aleteia's Polish language edition