KRAKOW, Poland, July 30, 2016– How can one stay sane let alone be happy in the face of non-stop death and violence?
A Syrian delegate attending the World Youth Day (WYD) in this city shared how true joy is possible despite living in a war-torn country and how she is able to face each day with joy because of her Christian faith.
“My faith in Christ is the reason for my joy and hope. No one will be able to steal this true joy from me,” said Rand Mittri of Aleppo, Syria during a series of testimonials from young people coming from all over the world at Campus Campus Misericordiae earlier tonight.
Surrounded by death
Coming to the WYD under the delegation of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which gathered young people from Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon, Mittri said the joy she experiences is “not conditioned on living a life of peace that is free of hardships.”
According to Mittri, who shared to an estimated one million WYD pilgrims, being joyful did not always come easy.
“Everyday we live lives that are surrounded by death… But like you, we close our doors behind us as we leave for work or school. It is in that moment that we are gripped by fear that we will not find our families [when we come back]… Perhaps, we will be killed that day or perhaps our family will,” said Mittri, who now works in a Don Bosco center that gives relief and support to some 700 women and children who suffer from the effects of war and violence.
She added: “The pain that is in our hearts is too big to express in words…There’s no way to escape, no one way to help.”
Remembering friends who died
Mittri mentioned the names of several of her friends who were killed in Aleppo because of intermittent attacks, like 13-year old Jack, who was killed while waiting for the bus to attend a Christian gathering and to play with friends.
“The hate in men’s hearts killed this boy,” she said.
She also talked about William and Antoine who died in their sleep when their house collapsed on them after it got bombed.
Mittri remembered them and many other men and women “who can only be faulted with having faith in humanity.”
‘Touch of mercy’
The 26-year old said there is some good that can be drawn out from the violent realities of her country.
“I believe that sometimes through our pain, He (God) teaches us the true meaning of love,” she explained.
According to Mittri, people in such trying conditions are called on to have “the grace to show a touch of mercy.”
“This is the message to every Christian on the face of the earth,” she stressed.
In a message before the Adoration, Pope Francis called on to hundreds of thousands of young people present to pray for countries that are “marked by war, by pain, by loss.”
The Holy Father encouraged the WYD delegates to remember that these “forgotten ones” “have a name , a face, a story, a closeness to us.”
The jihadist militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is currently occupying parts of countries like Syria and Lebanon. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz/CBCPNews)