From the journals of Father Christian and Luc, powerfully adapted in 2010 into the must-see film of that year, Of Gods and Men. These are excerpts from their last year in Algeria, as monks living amidst terror and choosing to live as Christ, with Christ’s perspective, in our world.
Meditation by Christian (the leader):
“We welcomed that Child who was born for us, absolutely helpless, and already so threatened. Afterwards we found salvation in undertaking our daily tasks: the kitchen, garden, the prayers, the bells. Day after day. We had to resist the violence. And day after day, I think each of us discovered that to which Jesus Christ beckons us. It’s to be born. Our identities as men go from one birth to another. And from birth to birth, we’ll each end up bringing to the world the child of God that we are. The Incarnation, for us, is to allow the filial reality of Jesus to embody itself in our humanity. The mystery of Incarnation remains what we are going to live.”
Letter by Christian (the leader):
“Should it ever befall me, and it could happen today, to be a victim of the terrorism swallowing up all foreigners here, I would like my community, my church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to his country. That the Unique Master of all life was no stranger to this brutal departure. And that my death is the same as so many other violent ones, consigned to the apathy of oblivion. I’ve lived enough to know, I am complicit in the evil that, alas, prevails over the world and the evil that will smite me blindly. I could never desire such a death. I could never feel gladdened that these people I love be accused randomly of my murder. I know the contempt felt for the people here, indiscriminately. And I know how Islam is distorted by a certain Islamism. This country, and Islam, for me are something different. They’re a body and a soul. My death, of course, will quickly vindicate those who call me naïve or idealistic, but they must know that I will be freed of a burning curiosity and, God willing, will immerse my gaze in the Father’s and contemplate with him his children of Islam as he sees them. This thank you which encompasses my entire life includes you, of course, friends of yesterday and today, and you too, friend of last minute, who knew not what you were doing. Yes, to you as well I address this thank you and this farewell which you envisaged. May we meet again, happy thieves in Paradise, if it pleases God the Father of us both. Amen. Insha’Allah. ”
Letter by Jean-Luc (the doctor):
“I was recently reading this “pensée” of Pascal’s: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious conviction.” Here there is confusion and violence. We are in a “risky” situation but we persist in our faith and our confidence in God. It is through poverty, failure and death that we advance towards him. Heavy and devastating downpours have not curbed the violence that is infiltrating itself everywhere. Two opponents are present, one wants to hold on to power, the other seize it. They are fighting with their backs against the wall. I don’t know when or how it will all end. In the meantime, I perform my duty… Caring for the poor and the sick, awaiting for the day or the time to close my eyes. My dear friend, pray for me, may my exit from this world be done in the peace and joy of Jesus.”