Half way through the film “Of Gods And Men” the brothers hold a meeting to wrestle again with whether to remain in their monastery or flee to safety. They cannot agree and a final decision is postponed.

Following the meeting Brother Christian walks alone outside the Abbey walls. He appears to be heavily weighed down by his responsibility for his brothers, but at the same time filled with wonder at the beauty of creation.

As Christian walks, the sound of the monks chanting is heard in the background. They sing:

We do not know your mystery
Infinite love
But you do have a heart.
For you seek the prodigal son
And hold against your breast
This troublesome child
Which is the world of mortals.
We do not see your face infinite love
But you do have eyes
For you weep through the oppressed
And look upon us with a shining gaze
That reveals your forgiveness.

This “world of mortals” is indeed a “troublesome child.” The monks of Tibhirine have seen the deep wound of the world open before them. They have been scarred by ethnic and religious violence. They have experienced the loneliness and uncertainty of fear. They have at times found it impossible to see the “face” of “infinite love.”

And yet, in the jaws of terror no matter what they may be experiencing in their emotions, the monks affirm in worship their faith in the mystery of “Infinite love.” Over and over they chant and recite words of trust and faith. The rhythm of worship permeates their days.

Perhaps it is this repetition of the language of love and the rituals of faith that has ingrained in their being the conviction that life is held against the “breast” of the One whose “eyes… weep through the oppressed.”

I need this repetition. I need to hear and speak words of faith and love even when I feel alone and abandoned. Our lives are shaped by the words we speak, the words we hear, and the acts we perform.

We humans need to physically act out the faith that is enshrined in liturgical practice so that confidence and trust may grow in our hearts, even in the face of uncertainty and doubt.

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