ROME, JULY 25, 2012 (Zenit.org).- "God alone knows how difficult it is for me to find words to encourage the people not to give up hope," wrote a priest from Damascus, referring to the state of the city as rebel fighters advance in their efforts to bring down the Syrian president.
The priest, who preferred not to be named for security reasons, spoke by phone from Damascus to Aid to the Church in Need.
He told how he celebrated Mass last Sunday to the sound of shooting and explosives.
"It was the first time in my life that I celebrated the Mass … against the sound of gunfire and explosions. It was very difficult.
"We prayed intensely for peace. Afterwards, the faithful embraced me with emotion. Although they were still afraid, they went home strengthened."
People are trying to get by without bread and other foodstuffs, gas and electricity, the priest explained, all in temperatures of more than 43 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit).
The pastor described the city as eerily quiet now.
Despite stressing the city’s huge problems, he stated: “I will not leave. I am a priest in good and bad times. This means I am a ‘father’ and must now remain with my people.”
In a letter to relatives and friends, he wrote: “God alone knows how difficult it is for me to find words to encourage the people not to give up hope.”
"Please pray for us. Pray for our present and for our future. Pray so that [the violence] stops and that somebody saves what can still be saved.”