Brother Christian de Cherge was one of the seven monks of the Notre-Dame de l’Atlas monastery in the Atlas mountains near Tibhirine south west of Algiers in northern Algeria who was kidnapped on 27 March 1996 and whose deaths were announced in “Communiqué 44” on 21 May.

On Christmas Eve 1979 Brother Christian had gone on solitary retreat to the hermitage of Charles de Foucauld in southern Algeria.

During his retreat, Brother Christian wrote of his inner struggle describing,

Nights of agonizing faith…
Doubt is there, and the madness
of loving alone an absent and captivating God.…
What I hope for, I cannot see…
Such is my torment, as I turn to Him.

But then, having honestly acknowledged his experience of darkness and doubt, Brother Christian went on to affirm,

All my suffering finds its meaning there,
hidden in God like a child being born,
my joy is there, but it is night.

(Kiser, John W. The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria. NY: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2002,51)

Despite the fact that “it is night”, “joy is there.” In the midst of “agonizing faith”, “joy is there.”

Brother Christian had experienced in the depths of his being that steady strong current of Life that faith connects with the experience of “joy.” He had found that all his suffering “finds its meaning there.”

If we allow it to do its work, all our suffering has the capacity to open us to this depth in which we encounter our true nature and find our fullest beauty.

How can I allow the suffering I experience to break me open to the beauty of Life?