Gratuitous Love

I started reading The Monks of Tibhirine, the true story of French monks in Algeria during the civil war of the 1990s. It is the inspiration for the award-winning movie Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes et Des Dieux – I know, the French title is flipped around), which I saw a couple months ago and LOVED and want to own when it comes out in July. We’ll see how the budget goes.

Anyways, I was struck as I began reading the book by some parallels to ideas I am trying to sort out and have been reflecting on the last few weeks. This quote in particular stood out, speaking about the impact political changes in the 1970s had for Christians in Algeria (when a socialist and Islamic constitution was adopted):

Nationalization offered the remaining Christians another moment of reflection on the meaning of their faith. Duval viewed it as pushing the Church another step in the direction of gratuitous love, of giving without expecting anything in return. “The Church will be reduced to its essentials,” he told the monks during a visit to Tibhirine. The essence of the Church was not in its buildings but in the “spirit of fraternity lived each day.” The Church was there not simply to serve the needs of Christians but to be a sign of God’s love for all [people] everywhere.

This is only on page 47 of 285, in the historical background to what will really be the plot, but it inspires me and says so much of what my heart wishes could always be true.

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