The brothers in the Taize community are made up of various Christian denominations, including Catholic, and are also truly international as well as inspirational. The Vatican fully supports the work of the community and their close relationship goes back to the Papacy of John XIII. John Paul II visited and said mass there while the prior of the community meets with Pope Benedict every year. While I was there two Catholic Bishops stayed for a number of days and it was lovely to have mass said for the Assumption by a lovely French Bishop on Saturday, The Taize community does not ignore differences between denominations but brings us together in a united love of God and what it is to be human. It brings us together to show there can be at least one place on earth where we can accept unification and dialogue.
It does this mostly through prayer- drawing those four thousand young people in to the church of reconciliation each day to pray through the unique Taize chant three times a day. It is humbling to see all these people drawn into the daily rhythm of very beautiful prayer. The rest of the day you work to contribute in some way to the daily running of the community- helping to cook, clean etc. and you are also involved in a group discussion led by a brother followed by small group meetings which offers the opportunity to share ideas with people from different cultures and denominations. The discussion groups strongly echo Catholic social teaching and often the notes site encyclicals. There is also plenty of time for some solitary reflection.
In many ways it was not an easy week and I found myself challenged and confronted with many ideas. Yet coming back I feel renewed. What I take with me most is the deep prayer I entered into amidst the Taize chants and readings. The repetition of simple phrases and the meditation upon these was enlightening in the most simple of ways. It is simplicity that I also keep with me from Tiaze; living in unity with those who have less and stripping away the superficiality our society imposes so that all that remains is time with God. I couldn't even charge my mobile phone and it was really good for me to be in this situation. As Brother Roger lived his life he moved gradually from his own Luthran background towards a deep unity with the Catholic faith. He was a man of true peace and beauty- unfortunately this beauty was too difficult for a woman who suffered chronic mental illness to cope with and on the 26th of August 2005 he was murdered at evening prayer- of course she was not responsible for what she did. His community was heartbroken yet their ultimate answer has been peace and compassion. I hope to share a little more of what I learnt over the coming weeks.
As for me, its A Level results day tomorrow so I will be in school (hopefully) celebrating with my students.