ROME- Italian Cardinal Mario Zenari, the pope’s ambassador in Syria, avoids interviews: “Because of the work I do,” he says, and not without his reasons. Syria is in the midst of a civil war that began seven years ago, a conflict that’s been described as the greatest humanitarian catastrophe since World War II.

Technically the “Apostolic Nuncio,” he’s one of the few ambassadors left in a country in which the statistics of violence are appalling. The ongoing war in Syria has produced at least 400,000 dead, 5 million refugees, 6.3 million internally displaced people and untold numbers injured.

I reached out to Zenari in July, and finally had the opportunity to speak to him on September 22. The one-hour conversation took place in the Casa Santa Marta, the hotel within the Vatican grounds where Pope Francis resides. Zenari offered an analysis of the complex situation in Syria, including how Christians live and what the Church has done.

“If we talk about suffering, everyone is in the same boat. The suffering is transversal,” he said. “But Christians are the weakest link."

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Teachings of Christ

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6 ESV)

Pentecost

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Saints and Martyrs

Adorned with the blood of Your Martyrs throughout the world, * as with purple and fine linen, * Your Church cries out to You through them: * "Send down Your compassions upon Your people. * Grant peace to Your commonwealth and great mercy to our souls." (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

As the first-fruits of nature to the Planter of Creation, * the whole world offers to You, O Lord, the God-bearing martyrs. * Through their prayers and the intercession of the Mother of God * preserve Your commonwealth, the Church, in profound peace, O Most Merciful One. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were formed, who we are, and with what nature we came into the world, and how He Who formed and created us brought us into His world from the darkness of a grave, and prepared his benefits for us before we were born. Since, therefore, we have everything from Him, we ought in everything to give Him thanks, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Clement of Rome