After an hour and twenty minutes of film time in “Of Gods And Men”, Brother Christophe continues to struggle with the dark destiny that seems to await the monks of Tibhirine.

In conversation with his Prior, Brother Christian, Christophe complains,

I sleep badly. Slightest noise wakes me. I think over my life. My choices. As a kid I wanted to be a missionary. Dying for my faith shouldn’t keep me up nights. Dying here and now does it serve a purpose? I don’t know. I feel like I’m going mad….

I don’t know if it’s true anymore. I pray and I hear nothing. I don’t get it. Why be martyrs? For God? To be heroes? To prove we’re the best?

Christophe’s fears are real. His doubts are deep and profound.

There are so many possible motives for martyrdom, or any act of compassion. We humans are complex creatures. Often what may appear as altruism and self-sacrifice on the surface is in reality thinly veiled egoism. It is so easy to be driven by a desire to create an image of myself so that the image I create might feedback to me what a fine person I am and make me feel good about myself.

Christophe fears insincerity and dishonesty as much as he fears death.

Christian seeks to reassure his brother and explain to him the true nature of martyrdom:

 No, No, No. We’re martyrs out of love, out of fidelity. If death overtakes us, despite ourselves because up to the end. Up to the end, we’ll try to avoid it. Our mission here is to be brothers to all. Remember that love is eternal hope. Love endures everything.

Being a martyr is never the goal. The monks will seek to avoid death “up to the end,” but never if avoiding death contradicts the path of love.

The goal is to be faithful to the deep inner call of love whatever the cost may be. If obedience to the call of love leads to death, Brother Christian is determined to walk forward boldly into the dark unknown.

And yet…. even Christian struggles, as the viewer sees in the scene immediately following his conversation with Brother Christophe.

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