More of Gods and Men

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I read Lynne’s blog and have since seen the film. I found it moving and quite mind-blowing. The community of Trappist monks, together with the local people, found themselves in a violent terrorist situation which lasted for several years. The monks, who were very much at one with the local people, decided to stay rather than return to France.

For me two things stood out in the film. The first was the extraordinary gentleness of the monks in their dealings with the people and with each other, their huge respect for the Moslem community among whom they lived and whom they made no attempt to convert, and their willingness to be with the people giving their service and love without expectation of return. This was such a contrast to the violence that surrounded them.  One of them on the eve of his abduction had written of ‘willingly becoming the image of love, as manifested in Christ, who though innocent chose to suffer the fate of the unjust’.  I knew for sure that in the midst of such pointless violence these monks would always meet violence with gentleness and love.

The second thing which has given me much pause for thought is their decision to stay in Algiers when they could have returned to the safety of France. This painful decision was made with a lot of discernment and prayer. They wanted to be faithful to their calling to be at one with their people who did not have a choice. They believed that their lives were of no more value than those of others. ‘Nor’ as Don Christian, their leader had written ‘of less value’.  This faithfulness to what God had called them to, was clearly expressed by Don Christian, who knowing what the likely outcome would be, had written, that in the event of their being abducted, he would like his community, his Church and his family to remember ‘that my life was given to God and to this country (Algiers).

For me as a Faithful Companion of Jesus this film has been a prayerful and searching experience. It has made me appreciate once again, the great strength there is in gentleness, a quality so dear to the heart of our founder Marie Madeleine. Above all it has challenged me to remember that our vocation as Faithful Companions of Jesus, is to be ready to follow Jesus ‘to the foot of the cross and beyond’. What, I wonder would I have done had I been in Algiers in 1996?

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