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Something to think and pray about this week
Our Lady still keeps watch outside an abandoned monastery in Algeria. Seventeen years ago this month, its occupants, seven Trappist monks were abducted and murdered. Their story was later made into the film Of Gods and Men, described as perhaps the best-ever movie on Christian commitment.
Today we need examples of humble courage and dedication such as these monks provide. Despite the death threats issued to foreigners, they remained, out of solidarity with their Muslim neighbours. Their choice was made with pain, soul-searching and disagreement. But they decided as a group to remain, come what might.
They were ordinary people, not very different from ourselves. They got on one another’s nerves, they wavered in their decision. ‘Perhaps it would be better to go home to France and serve God in a quieter way?’ ‘What good would our deaths bring? In a wave of violent deaths, the murder of a few monks would be nothing special.’ These men did not choose death – rather, it came their way and they had to adjust to it or feel that they had betrayed a silent God who was the love of their lives.
In his last testament the Abbot addresses his final sentence to his prospective killer: ‘Thank you, my friend of the last moment, who will not know what you are doing… May we meet in heaven, like happy thieves, if it pleases God, our common Father.’ Our Lady surely approved of that prayer and welcomed the monks home after their final ordeal.