Saturday, 12 February 2011

Lourdes Magazine: "The spirit of Tibhirine is alive"

The January-February 2011 issue of Lourdes Magazine carries an interview with Brother Jean Pierre, one of two monks who survived the attack on the Cistercian monastery at Tibhirine in 1996, after which seven of the monks were killed. Brother Jean Pierre and Brother Amedee, the other survivor, continue their monastic life in Morocco.

Brother Jean Pierre wrote the following in a letter sent to Lourdes Magazine in November 2010:
We were lucky to obtain a DVD of the film "Of Gods and Men". I like it very much, because it really conveys the message of what was experienced during these three dangerous years by the Community, the reasons for choosing to stay, and the difficult unanimous commitment. I like the departure in the snow, towards the mystery of the total gift of self in communion with the oblation of Christ so that the reign of Love may come on our suffering earth ... I am amazed by what the actors of the film experienced as they managed to self-obliterate so perfectly in order to enter into the spirit of the message and the people they had to represent ... I think the Holy Spirit is at work here.
When the interview asks Brother Jean Pierre what is the secrect of the monks friendship with the Muslims who surround the monastery, he answers:
Prayer. In Tibhirine the bells of the monastery rang and the Muslims never asked us to prevent them from ringing. There was a mutual respect at the very heart of our common vocation: to adore God, to praise Him and sing his glory. In Morocco, we also live this communion in prayer when we get up at night to pray at the same time as our Muslum neighbours are awakened by the muezzin. The fidelity to the times of prayer is the secret of our friendship with the Muslims. We want to be in God's presence with them, be true to ourselves in this inner light that only silence gives. Muslims teach us to pray ....
I wonder if Brother Jean Pierre's experience, and that of the two monasteries in which he has lived in the Atlas, can shed some light on the choice of a bell as one of the key symbols for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress?

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