Christophe Lebreton, OCSO; Translated by Mette Louise Nygård and Edith Scholl, OCSO; Includes photos and illustrations
Christophe Lebreton, OCSO, aged forty-six, was the youngest of the seven Trappist monks assassinated in Algeria by terrorists in 1996. He was also the poet of the group. Anyone who was enthralled by the film Of Gods and Men should find in Brother Christophe's Journal ample and deeply moving material for meditation on both the light and the darkness inherent in the human condition. The Journal begins in 1993, four months before the terrorists' first visit to the monastery at Tibhirine, and it ends on March 19, 1996, just seven days before the monks' abduction. Entry after entry touches readers both by its vivid sincerity and by the fresh and inventive quality of its poetic expression. Through these pages readers become privy to the daily events in the soul of a generous searcher after God under very trying conditions. His style is highly personal, playful, ardent, full of color and whimsy.
The Abbot General of the Trappist Order (Cistercians of the Strict Observance) reflects on the martyrdom in 1996 of seven of his monks, kidnapped from the Algerian monastery of Our Lady of Atlas and executed by a radical faction of the Groupe Islamique Armé. Choosing, despite known danger, to remain in the adopted homeland he loved, one of the martyred monks had earlier written: 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 its 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 learned at my mother's knee, my very first Church, in Algeria itself, and already inspired with respect for Muslim believers. Originally published by St Bede's Publications.
Christian de Chergé, prior of the Cistercian community at Tibhirine, Algeria, was assassinated with six of his fellow monks in 1996. De Chergé saw his monastic vocation as a call to be a person of prayer among persons who pray, that is, among the Muslim friends and neighbors with whom he and his brothers shared daily life. De Chergé's writings bear witness to an original thinker who insists on the value of interreligious dialogue for a more intelligent grasp of one's own faith. Christian Salenson shows us the personal, ecclesial, and theological foundations of de Chergé's vocation and the originality of his life and thought. He shows how the experience of a small monastery lost in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria contributes importantly to today's theological debates. Christian Salenson is a priest of the diocese of Nîmes, France. Former rector of the seminary of Avignon, he is today director of L'institut de science et de théologie des religions at Marseille. He has published Prier 15 jours avec Christian de Chergé (Paris: Éditions Nouvelle Cité, 2006).