April 9th 2004, 01:04 PM #1
Testament of Dom Christian, one of the Trappist monks murdered by the GIA in Algeria
The following text is the integral spiritual testament written by Dom Christian Marie de Chergé to his family in 1994. He was prior of Our Lady of the Atlas and was amongst the seven Trappist monks murdered by the GIA in Algeria.
Testament of Dom Christian
When an “A-Dieu” takes on a face.
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, my family,
to remember that my life was given to God and to this country.
I ask them to accept that the Sole Master of all life
was not a stranger to this brutal departure.
I ask them to pray for me-
for how could I be found worthy of such an offering?
I ask them to be able to link this death
with the many other deaths which were just as violent,
but forgotten through indifference and 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, alas, to prevail in the world,
even in that which would strike me blindly.
I should like, when the time comes,
to have the moment of lucidity
which would allow me to beg forgiveness of God
and of my fellow human beings,
and at the same time to 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 this people I love were to be accused
indiscriminately of my murder.
To owe it to an Algerian, whoever he may be,
would be too high a price to pay
for what will, perhaps, be called "the grace of martyrdom",
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 Algerians indiscriminately.
I am also aware of the caricature of Islam
which a certain islamism encourages.
It is too easy to salve one's conscience
by identifying this religious way with the fundamentalist
ideologies of the extremists.
For me, Algeria and Islam are something different:
they are a body and a soul.
I have proclaimed this often enough,
I believe, in the sure knowledge of
what I have received from it,finding there
so often that true strand of the Gospel
learnt at my mother's knee, my very first Church,
already in Algeria itself, in the respect of believing Muslims.
My death, clearly, will appear to justify
those who hastily judged me naďve, or idealistic:
"Let him tell us now what he thinks of it!"
But these people must realise that my avid curiosity
will then be satisfied.
This is what I shall be able to do, if God wills
immerse my gaze in that of the Father,
and contemplate with him his children of Islam
just as he sees them,
all shining with the glory of Christ,
the fruit of His Passion, and filled with the Gift of the Spirit,
whose secret joy will always be to establish communion
and to refashion the likeness, playfully delighting in 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 sums up my whole life to this moment,
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,
the hundredfold granted as was promised!
And also you, the friend of my final moment,
who would not be aware of what you were doing.
Yes, I also say this Thank You and this A-Dieu to you, in whom I see the face of God.
And may we find each other, happy good thieves, in Paradise,
if it pleases God, the Father of us both. Amen. (In sha 'Allah).
Algiers, 1st December 1993- Tibhirine, January1, 1994
Cf. Hallel 21 (1996): 150-1; copyright: Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance."They talk of free love when they mean something quite different, better defined as free lust. But being sentimentalists they feel bound to simper and coo over the word "love." They insist on talking about Birth Control when they mean less birth and no control. We could smash them to atoms, if we could be as indecent in our language as they are immoral in their conclusions." (G.K. Chesterton, "Obstinate Orthodoxy," The Thing)
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