ASIA/SYRIA - Monk (and next bishop) Jacques Mourad: the earthquake, the "full measure" of pain, and the mystery of our faith

Wednesday, 8 February 2023 middle east   oriental churches   monasticism   natural catastrophe   jihadists   faith   caritas  

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) - "The only thing missing was this earthquake to fill to the brim the cup of suffering. And now, in this very situation, hope, charity, solidarity among all still passes, thanks be to God. Today the mystery of our faith passes along these ruins". Father Jacques Mourad, the Syrian monk from Deir Mar Musa monastery, will be ordained Archbishop of Homs of the Syrian Catholics in early March. But yesterday, Tuesday, February 7, he was in the devastated streets of Aleppo. His testimony, collected by Fides, recounts the new wounds opened by the earthquake in the martyred city, which is also his hometown. And at the same time, without adding unnecessary words, he also recounts his faith.
During the war years, Father Jacques, a member of the monastic community founded by the Roman Jesuit Paolo Dall'Oglio, lived through an unparalleled event. In 2015 he was kidnapped and held hostage for long months by jihadist militiamen of the self-styled Islamic State (Daesh), who ravaged and desecrated the Mar Elian monastery in Quaryatayn, of which he was Prior. After his release, he lived for a long time in Sulaymanyia, Iraqi Kurdistan, at the local home of his monastic community. During that time, he spiritually and materially assisted many Iraqi Christian refugees who fled Qaraqosh and other cities in the Nineveh Plain in the face of the advance of the Daesh jihadists. Now, when he calls out the pains of war to give the measure of the suffering caused by the earthquake, Father Jacques does not use words at ramdom. He knows what he is talking about. And his spiritual wisdom as a Syrian monk also gives valuable insights into the new tragedies biting the lives of multitudes of people between Syria and Turkey. "I try to be close, there is so much pain and fear in everyone's heart. What this earthquake has done is unbelievable. People's fear is stronger than when there was war". In the faces of so many people Father Jacques sees expressions of surrender and total depression. And then, in a helplessness that finds in itself no strength to react, courage shines back, gratuitous relief to those most hurt. "The tremors, yesterday, could still be felt. It is cold, there is humidity, so many are already sick, so many will get sick. But people are living and helping each other in churches, in mosques, on the road, in cars". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 8/2/2023)

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