Sunday, June 04, 2017

Proto-Martyrs of 21st Century Islamic Terrorism ...

I am aware of the scorn which can be heaped on the Algerians indiscriminately. 
I am also aware of the caricatures of Islam which a certain Islamism fosters. 
It is too easy to soothe one's conscience by identifying this religious way 
with the fundamentalist ideology of its extremists. - Dom Christian o.c.s.o.

The Trappist Martyrs of Atlas

Once again I have been thinking much about the Trappist martyrs of Atlas, the monks who were beheaded by terrorists in Algeria in the 1990's. I'm looking to these martyrs as special patrons to the Church in these days of bloody persecution and increasing terror attacks by Islamic radicals.  I'm hoping they can be models and examples to Christians on how one ought to conduct oneself in the dark night of terrorism and war.

How far to follow?

Fr. Christian

A martyr's testament to charity.

Testament of Dom Christian de Chergé (opened on Pentecost Sunday, May 26,1996) 
Facing a GOODBYE.... If it should happen one day - and it could be today - that I become a victim of the terrorism which now seems ready to engulf all the foreigners living in Algeria, I would like my community, my Church and my family to remember that my life was GIVEN to God and to this country. 
I ask them to accept the fact that the One Master of all life was not a stranger to this brutal departure. I would ask them to pray for me: for how could I be found worthy of such an offering? I ask them to associate this death with so many other equally violent ones which are forgotten through indifference or anonymity. My life has no more value than any other. Nor any less value. 
In any case, it has not the innocence of childhood. I have lived long enough to know that I am an accomplice in the evil which seems to prevail so terribly in the world, even in the evil which might blindly strike me down. I should like, when the time comes, to have a moment of spiritual clarity which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God and of my fellow human beings, and at the same time forgive with all my heart the one who would strike me down. 
I could not desire such a death. It seems to me important to state this. I do not see, in fact, how I could rejoice if the people I love were indiscriminately accused of my murder. It would be too high a price to pay for what will perhaps be called, the "grace of martyrdom" to owe it to an Algerian, whoever he might be, especially if he says he is acting in fidelity to what he believes to be Islam. 
I am aware of the scorn which can be heaped on the Algerians indiscriminately. I am also aware of the caricatures of Islam which a certain Islamism fosters. It is too easy to soothe one's conscience by identifying this religious way with the fundamentalist ideology of its extremists. For me, Algeria and Islam are something different: it is a body and a soul. I have proclaimed this often enough, I think, in the light of what I have received from it. I so often find there that true strand of the Gospel which I learned at my mother's knee, my very first Church, precisely in Algeria, and already inspired with respect for Muslim believers. 
Obviously, my death will appear to confirm those who hastily judged me naïve or idealistic: "Let him tell us now what he thinks of his ideals!" But these persons should know that finally my most avid curiosity will be set free. This is what I shall be able to do, God willing: immerse my gaze in that of the Father to contemplate with him His children of Islam just as He sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, the fruit of His Passion, filled with the Gift of the Spirit whose secret joy will always be to establish communion and restore the likeness, playing with the differences. For this life lost, totally mine and totally theirs, I thank God, who seems to have willed it entirely for the sake of that JOY in everything and in spite of everything. 
In this THANK YOU, which is said for everything in my life from now on, I certainly include you, friends of yesterday and today, and you, my friends of this place, along with my mother and father, my sisters and brothers and their families - You are the hundredfold granted as was promised! And also you, my last-minute friend, who will not have known what you were doing: Yes, I want this THANK YOU and this GOODBYE to be a "GOD-BLESS" for you, too, because in God's face I see yours. May we meet again as happy thieves in Paradise, if it please God, the Father of us both. AMEN ! 
Algiers, 1st December 1993 Tibhirine, 1st January 1994 Christian +

My prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come O Holy Spirit, convict me of sin, of righteousness, of judgment. Teach me and make me entirely teachable, let me remember your presence in my soul, in the Church, in the Blessed Sacrament, and in my neighbor. Bear witness in and through me, guide me to all truth, grant me the graces you will for me, convincing me concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. Holy Spirit come and make reparation in and through me - pray in me for I know not how to pray as I ought. Holy Spirit come and have mercy upon me and the whole world. Convince the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment. Convince the world that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, He who is in the Father and the Father in Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit. O my `Three', my All, my beatitude, infinite solitude, immensity in which I long to be annihilated, I surrender myself to you as your possession. Immerse yourself in me so that I may be immersed in you until, through the merits of the most Precious Blood of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I may go to contemplate in your light the abyss of your infinite splendor! Amen.

I want to love, to go out of myself, to find ways to practice charity, to do good ... where there is hatred, I want to put love.   As John of the Cross wrote: "Where there is no love, put love, and you will draw love out."

Song for this post here.


  1. Used the St John of the Cross quote to conclude the Vigil of Pentecost homily: nice 'coincidence.' Fr P

  2. Just beautiful!

    When reading this piece, my thoughts turned to Papa Francis since he is so criticized for his words regarding the Muslim religion.

    He speaks of it with charity much to the chagrin of many.

    I struggle too ... so in truth to understand why as it is said, "not every Muslim is a terrorist but every terrorist is a Muslim."

    I will keep praying ...

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. The monks of Atlas are modern day martyrs. Did you see the movie few years back about them? It was, I thought, inspirational. I think it is brilliant to dedicate them to the issue of terrorism in today's world. Charles de Foucauld who also was martyred and spent tiime in a Cistercian monastery in Syria.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.