He was one of the monks beheaded by Muslim extremists in Algiers in 1996 — the basis of the story retold in the acclaimed film “Of Gods and Men.” Heather King yesterday posted his last testament, written a couple of years earlier, when he began to sense that the monks’ mission in Tibrihine might end in martyrdom.
The end, in which he addresses the one who will one day kill him — “my last minute friend” — is astonishing. Take a look:
My death, obviously, will appear to confirm those who hastily judged me naive or idealistic: “Let him tell us now what he thinks of it!” But these must know that my insistent curiosity will then be set free. This is what I shall be able to do, if God wills: Immerse my gaze in that of the Father, to contemplate with Him His children of Islam as He sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, fruit of His Passion, filled with the Gift of the Spirit whose secret joy will always be to establish communion and to refashion the likeness, playing with the differences.This life lost, totally mine and totally theirs, I thank God who seems to have wished it entirely for the sake of that JOY in 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, O my friends of this place, besides my mother and father, my sisters and brothers and their families, a hundredfold as was promised!
And you too, my last minute friend, who will not know what you are doing, Yes, for you too I say this THANK YOU AND THIS “A-DIEU”– to commend you to this God in whose face I see yours. And may we find each other, happy “good thieves” in Paradise, if it pleases God, the Father of us both. . . AMEN!
That remarkable witness remains a profound mystery — at once sorrowful, glorious, joyful, luminous. Read the whole thing. Heather describes it as “the heart of the cross.” Indeed it is. And it is a fitting contemporary meditation for this week we call Holy.