Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Of Movies and Martyrs

Today I read two news feeds that tell of a film that depicts the story of seven Catholic monks who were martyred in 1996. The movie, "Of Gods and Men" by the French director Xavier Beauvois, won second prize, the "Grand Prix", at the Cannes Film Festival. I have not seen the film, but I am aware of the true story on which it was built. Seven Trappist monks lived at peace with their Muslim neighbors in the mountains of Algeria. Extremist groups began causing trouble. Even though the monks were advised to leave, they chose to remain at their posts, praying and working until death. In March of 1996, Muslim fundamentalists overran the monastery and killed each of the monks. Aware of that any day he may suffer a violent death, one of the monks wrote letter in which he forgave whoever would kill him. When I read his letter, I could not stop tears from flowing. A British film critic who saw the film in Cannes attested that "the audience wept" at the portrayal of quiet heroism and Christian love. I look forward to seeing the film when it reaches the USA. May its message of forgiveness and reconciliation penetrate our society.

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