Cardinal: Eucharist "Explains" 1990s Martyrs

Quebec Congress Hears of Monks Slain in Algeria

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QUEBEC CITY, JUNE 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Eucharist is not a memory of the past; it is the real presence of Christ that explains the self-giving of martyrs, like that of the Trappist monks who died in Algeria just over 10 years ago, explained Cardinal Philippe Barbarin.



The archbishop of Lyons spoke Tuesday at the International Eucharistic Congress, under way in Quebec through Sunday, about the sacrifice of the 19 sons of the Church killed in the 1990s, in the midst of Islamic fundamentalist violence in Algeria.

In particular, he attributed to the Eucharist the motivation that brought these monks from Tibhirine monastery to give their lives. They were assassinated in the spring of 1996, after having decided to stay among the Algerians despite knowing that they would probably be killed

"Their presence was a simple, discreet offering, understood by everyone," Cardinal Barbarin said. "And their sacrifice has touched the entire world. To present Christianity without the cross, or to speak of the Eucharistic sacrifice without mentioning the extent to which it could lead us would be a lie."

The cardinal noted how many members of the Church continue to live in daily danger. He spoke of Archbishop Henri Teissier, who retired last month from the archbishopric of Algiers, saying he has been in danger every day for more than 15 years.

"In this spiritual environment, he celebrates the Eucharist every day," Cardinal Barbarin noted.

And like him, the Christian martyrs of Algeria gave their lives because of evangelical fidelity to a people to which God had sent them to serve and love, he added.

20th century disciples

The cardinal cited the writings of Father Christian de Chergé, the prior of Tibhirine, slain in 1996, who said, "If one day I am a victim of terrorism, I would like for my community, my Church and my family to remember my life as having been surrender to God and to this country (Algeria)."

"He must have thought frequently of the Algerians," Cardinal Barbarin suggested, "when he said the words of the consecration, 'This is my body which will be given up for you.'

"All of them had learned Arabic. Brother Luc, a monk and doctor, the oldest member of the community of Tibhirine, took care of the sick of the region without charge. When the environment got dangerous, they decided to stay.

"Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran explained this, shortly before being assassinated himself in the autumn of the same year, 1996: 'So that love vanquishes hate, one must love to the point of giving one's life in the daily combat from which Jesus himself did not escape unscathed.'

"After his assassination, not one woman religious, not one priest, not one lay person abandoned his post in the Diocese of Oran, conforming with what he had written: 'We have established here bonds with the Algerians that no one could destroy, not even death. In this, we are disciples of Jesus, nothing more.

"This attitude of disciples -- after 20 centuries -- helps us to understand the Eucharist of the Lord."

"Saddened by such an unjust death of the innocent One on the cross," the cardinal continued, "the disciples were even more unsettled by the Resurrection. This is the answer God gives to man's sin; he opens the doors of his Kingdom to his beloved son and he promises us that he awaits us in this land, where Jesus has prepared us a space."

"The truth is that when God loves us he associates us with the great adventure of the salvation of the world," Cardinal Barbarin affirmed. "Our mission is to love. This is what we learn from the life of the Lord, and in particular from the sacrifice of the Eucharist."
Cardinal: Eucharist "Explains" 1990s Martyrs
Quebec Congress Hears of Monks Slain in Algeria

QUEBEC CITY, JUNE 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Eucharist is not a memory of the past; it is the real presence of Christ that explains the self-giving of martyrs, like that of the Trappist monks who died in Algeria just over 10 years ago, explained Cardinal Philippe Barbarin.

The archbishop of Lyons spoke Tuesday at the International Eucharistic Congress, under way in Quebec through Sunday, about the sacrifice of the 19 sons of the Church killed in the 1990s, in the midst of Islamic fundamentalist violence in Algeria.

In particular, he attributed to the Eucharist the motivation that brought these monks from Tibhirine monastery to give their lives. They were assassinated in the spring of 1996, after having decided to stay among the Algerians despite knowing that they would probably be killed

"Their presence was a simple, discreet offering, understood by everyone," Cardinal Barbarin said. "And their sacrifice has touched the entire world. To present Christianity without the cross, or to speak of the Eucharistic sacrifice without mentioning the extent to which it could lead us would be a lie."

The cardinal noted how many members of the Church continue to live in daily danger. He spoke of Archbishop Henri Teissier, who retired last month from the archbishopric of Algiers, saying he has been in danger every day for more than 15 years.

"In this spiritual environment, he celebrates the Eucharist every day," Cardinal Barbarin noted.

And like him, the Christian martyrs of Algeria gave their lives because of evangelical fidelity to a people to which God had sent them to serve and love, he added.

20th century disciples

The cardinal cited the writings of Father Christian de Chergé, the prior of Tibhirine, slain in 1996, who said, "If one day I am a victim of terrorism, I would like for my community, my Church and my family to remember my life as having been surrender to God and to this country (Algeria)."

"He must have thought frequently of the Algerians," Cardinal Barbarin suggested, "when he said the words of the consecration, 'This is my body which will be given up for you.'

"All of them had learned Arabic. Brother Luc, a monk and doctor, the oldest member of the community of Tibhirine, took care of the sick of the region without charge. When the environment got dangerous, they decided to stay.

"Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran explained this, shortly before being assassinated himself in the autumn of the same year, 1996: 'So that love vanquishes hate, one must love to the point of giving one's life in the daily combat from which Jesus himself did not escape unscathed.'

"After his assassination, not one woman religious, not one priest, not one lay person abandoned his post in the Diocese of Oran, conforming with what he had written: 'We have established here bonds with the Algerians that no one could destroy, not even death. In this, we are disciples of Jesus, nothing more.

"This attitude of disciples -- after 20 centuries -- helps us to understand the Eucharist of the Lord."

"Saddened by such an unjust death of the innocent One on the cross," the cardinal continued, "the disciples were even more unsettled by the Resurrection. This is the answer God gives to man's sin; he opens the doors of his Kingdom to his beloved son and he promises us that he awaits us in this land, where Jesus has prepared us a space."

"The truth is that when God loves us he associates us with the great adventure of the salvation of the world," Cardinal Barbarin affirmed. "Our mission is to love. This is what we learn from the life of the Lord, and in particular from the sacrifice of the Eucharist."