18 April 2018

The seeds of hope: Syrian twins explain their acceptance of a joint vocation

The life of two brothers, students within the Custody of the Holy Land, reflects hope and a search for holiness, as called for in Gaudete et Exsultate, the recent Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis.

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Horizons open up, indicating a path. And there are paths which intersect with links that are even stronger than ties of blood. George and Johnny, twins from Aleppo, in Syria, are student friars with the Custody of the Holy Land. They share not only physical similarities, but a common committment to fulfill the will of God, and this despite the challenges in their native land.

Custody of the Holy Land
“What is the meaning of my life? Aware of many things: the trauma of war; the wounded, the loss family members ... in the face of all this, I ask myself that question: ‘What is the meaning of my life?’. And I feel that the Lord has plans for that life.”

Growing up in a Christian family participating in the activities of the parish of Saint Francis of Assisi – activities reflecting the intense engagement of the Christians of Aleppo – the two brothers were searching for individual calling. Johnny, who wanted to be a physician, was the first to express a fervent desire to be a Franciscan friar, while George, who thought of being a film director, prayed in silence - and heard the same call.

Custody of the Holy Land
“The Church in Syria encourages vocations, especially in time of war. We see that the hope of the people if very great, despite poverty, and even a lack of essentials. Yet there is always a light which shines, and people persevere in hope, especially in remembering that after the Cross, there is Resurrection.

In his recent Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis describes the Beatitutes as the “identity card” of the Christian. This sense was already in the hearts of the twins who decided to swim against the tide of what Society considers to be the normal thing to do, just as the exhortation suggests.

Custodia di Terra Santa
“Starting with the Beatitudes, the Pope goes on to consider hope. Jesus had spoken to the crowds on a mountain in Galilee, outlining and explaining the Beatitudes. These tell us that we can have courage, despite war. We know that the Church always lends her support, particularly to Christians, but in any case to all Syrians.

They began their seminary studies back in 2014, with war already raging. It was scenario from which would spring upheaval, disharmony, and a lack of realistic prospects for the future. Nevertheless, George and Johnny expressed a strong desire to know the song and the enthusiasm of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Father writes: “Holiness is boldness; fervor, and that evangelizing impetus which can leave its mark on this world. Even in the most unfavorable circumstances, there is always hope, and productive life, in God.