Wednesday 26 March 2014

Christian de Cherge': A Theology of Hope, by Christian Salenson

Stephanie Saldana lent me Christian Salenson's Christian de Cherge': A Theology of Hope (Trappist, Kentucky: Cistercian Publications / Collegeville: Liturgical, 2012).  Salenson says that, while de Cherge' was no professional theologian (though he had studied with the White Fathers' at the PISAI in Rome), his talks and homilies and other small writings betray a profound theology of encounter (which Salenson prefers to theology of interreligious dialogue) permeated and sustained by hope.

On the way, Salenson mentions other monks who have contributed to encounter and dialogue, including Henri Le Saux, Bede Griffiths, Francis Acharya, Jules Monchanin, Charles de Foucauld and Thomas Merton. He also mentions Louis Massignon along with Charles de Foucauld among people who were transformed by their encounter with Islam.

From Salenson I learn about certain foundational experiences of de Cherge': a Muslim policeman, father of 10, who gave his own life for his (de Cherge's); the experience of praying for three hours together with a Muslim, in the year before his profession as a monk; and the meeting with emir Sayah Attiyah, who spared the monastery on Christmas Eve, and was found murdered the next day. de Cherge' owed his vocation as a monk in Algeria to Muhammad who gave his life for him, and that giving of his life permeated every Eucharist that de Cherge' celebrated.

De Cherge' manifests the same ability to 'hold in tension' that Dupuis remarks about Abhishiktananda (Le Saux). The ability not to pass too hastily to judgment and categorization. The hope in the communion of saints, in, finally, a God who knows what he is doing.

(Stephanie mentions specially ch. 7: A Greater Christ; ch. 10: Eschatology; ch. 11: The Visitation.)

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