Friday, April 1, 2016


Christian de Chergé, the Prior of Tibhirine monastery, who was martyred in 1996 with his six Trappist brothers, once told the story of his First Communion. He remembered saying to his mother, “I don’t understand what I am doing.” She answered simply, “It’s okay, you don’t have to understand it now, later you will understand.”                     

Take and eat. Take and drink. Jesus did not give us a theological discourse at the Last Supper. He simply gave us a ritual and asked us to celebrate it regularly, irrespective of our theological understanding of it. We too are not expected to fully understand.

The British theologian Ronald Knox speaking about the Eucharist, said this: “We have never, as Christians, been truly faithful to Jesus, no matter our denomination. In the end none of us have truly followed those teachings which most characterize Jesus- We have not turned the other cheek. We have not forgiven our enemies. We have not purified our thoughts. We have not seen God in the poor. We have not kept our hearts pure and free from the things of this world. But we have been faithful in one very important way- we have kept the Eucharist going.”

One of the last things Jesus asked us to do before he died was to keep celebrating the Eucharist. And this we have done, even though perhaps we have never grasped fully the ramifications of our action. Still we have been faithful, and that is essential. It is just as Madame de Chergé said. We do not have to understand. 

Photograph by Brother Casimir. Meditation by Fathar Abbot Damian.