By Joêlle El Dib, Caritas Lebanon Communication Department

Following Pope Francis’s appeal for a world day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and the Middle East on the 7 September 2013, Caritas Lebanon celebrated mass with Syrian families sheltering in the Saint Gabriel monastery in Ajaltoun (Kesrouan).

With tears in their eyes, children, women and men prayed from the bottom of their heart and lit white candles for peace in Syria and the return of displaced to their country.

Kossay fled to Lebanon 10 months ago and has not found work yet; he’s surviving thanks to his limited savings and the assistance provided by Caritas Lebanon. His two wishes are peace upon Syria and the return to his country. “I don’t want to go to Europe. I want to live and die in my country,” he said. He thanked the pope for “the declaration of Jesus Christ, love, peace and rejection of violence on this special day.”

Georges came to Lebanon 15 days ago. He considered this prayer a prayer of love for Syria, a prayer the entire world must hear. “I hope everyone shares this prayer. Perhaps, it will contribute to the return of peace, security, coexistence and love in Syria. A prayer, so we can return to our country, and the pain and burning from our hearts and minds can be removed. A prayer, so Syria can become the bright flower of the Middle East again”.

He calls everyone, Christians and Muslims, to join in this beautiful prayer for the great, dear and precious Syria.

Aida lights a candle and prays humbly, her eyes full of tears. “I am tired of living in these conditions”, she said. She wonders about their destiny and their children’s future. “Who will protect us as Christians, whether we live in Syria or in Lebanon?” she said.

Fadi‘s wish (14) is calm in Syria, “so we can go back to our homes, where we lived like kings”. Joelle (13) wants all Syrian children to come to Lebanon, instead of staying in war zones and suffering.

Cynthia (9) fled to Lebanon because she and her family were afraid to be kidnapped. She wants to tell the world that “Syria is so beautiful and I love it very much!”