Violence haunts every corner of the movie “Of Gods And Men”, but seldom breaks out in the open, with one short but gruelling exception.

Half an hour into the film a small group of migrant Croatian construction workers is viciously slaughtered by Ali Fayattia and his band of Muslim extremists.

This act of terror brings the local Wali (Prefect) to the monastery of Our Lady of Atlas where he demands that the monks accept “military protection,” Brother Christian responds saying simply,

That is not an option… I made my decision. I refuse.

The film cuts immediately from army vehicles roaring away from the monastery, to the inside of the chapel where the monks chant during their celebration of Mass. The gentle monks’ voices as they chant is a stark contrast to the violence just witnessed.

One curious line stands out in their chant. The monks sing:

Let us drink from the chalice of passage.

 It is a reference to Mark 10:38. James and John the sons of Zebedee have approached Jesus asking for positions of power in his kingdom. Jesus replies, asking

Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’

The cup to which Jesus refers is the cup of suffering. But in the monastic chant, it has become a “chalice of passage”, a reference to the monks’ awareness of the ever-present threat of death.

But death is not the only “passage” in life. At every step from physical birth to inevitable death, we must drink “from the chalice of passage.”  Life does not unfold in straightforward lines. The peaceful monks of Tibhirine are shocked by the dark turn their lives have taken.

The best I can do in response to the realities of life as they present themselves, is to accept the “chalice of passage”. Everything is in transition. I never know what lies around the next bend in the road.

Advent challenges me to move forward in love, choosing each step along the way to open to the presence that the monks of Tibhirine celebrate as the chalice is placed upon the altar for their celebration of the death of

The one who sacrificed himself by loving us until the end.