Taizé Community

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This article is about the monastic order. For the towns in France, see Taizé (disambiguation).
Taizé cross

The Taizé Community is an ecumenical monastic order in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. It is composed of more than one hundred brothers, from Protestant and Catholic traditions, who originate from about thirty countries across the world. It was founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schutz, a Reformed Protestant. Guidelines for the community’s life are contained in The Rule of Taizé[1] written by Brother Roger and first published in French in 1954.

The community has become one of the world's most important sites of Christian pilgrimage. Over 100,000 young people from around the world make pilgrimages to Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work. Through the community's ecumenical outlook, they are encouraged to live in the spirit of kindness, simplicity and reconciliation.

Welcome Center at Taizé Community, France

Early years[edit]

The Taizé Community was founded by Frère Roger in 1940.[2]

Brother Roger, founder of the Taizé Community, shown at prayer in 2003

He pondered what it really meant to live a life according to the Scriptures and began a quest for a different expression of the Christian life. A year after this decision Roger reflected, “‘The defeat of France awoke powerful sympathy. If a house could be found there, of the kind I had dreamed of, it would offer a possible way of assisting some of those most discouraged, those deprived of a livelihood; and it could become a place of silence and work.’ Because his Swiss homeland was neutral and thus less affected by the war, he felt as if France would be ideal for his vision. For Roger, France was a “land of poverty, a land of wartime suffering, but a land of inner freedom.” He eventually settled in Taizé, which was a small desolate village just north of Cluny, the site of a historically influential Christian monastic foundation.

In September 1940, Roger purchased a small house that would eventually become the home of the Taizé community. Only miles south of the separation line that divided a war-torn country in half, Roger’s home became a sanctuary to countless war refugees seeking shelter. On November 11, 1942, the Gestapo occupied Roger’s house while he was in Switzerland collecting funds to aid in his refuge ministry. Roger was not able to return to his home in Taizé until the autumn of 1944, when France was liberated.

In 1941, Roger had published a few small brochures outlining several facets of a Christ-centred communal life together. These brochures prompted two young men to apply, soon followed by a third. They all lived in Switzerland in a flat owned by Roger’s family until after the war when they began a new life together in the French countryside. Over the next few years several other men would join the community. On Easter day 1949, seven brothers committed themselves[3] to a life following Christ in simplicity, celibacy and community.[4]

Growth of the community and current situation[edit]

Prayer in the Church of Reconciliation at Taizé.

In the years that followed, others joined. In 1969 a young Belgian doctor became the first Catholic brother to pledge his life to the community in Taizé. More brothers from Reformed, Anglican and Roman Catholic backgrounds joined the community. Soon the Brothers of Taizé were making trips to take aid to people in both rural and urban areas.[5] They began forming “fraternities” of brothers in other cities that sought to be “signs of the presence of Christ among men, and bearers of joy”. Since 1951, the brothers have lived, for longer or shorter periods, in small fraternities among the poor in India (chiefly Calcutta), Bangladesh, the Philippines, Algeria, Brazil, Kenya, Senegal, and the USA (Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, New York City).

At the age of 90, Brother Roger was killed in August 2005 in a knife attack by a mentally ill woman.[6] At his funeral, Brother Roger has an ecumenical dream fulfilled. The presider at his funeral was the president of the Vatican's council for the unity of Christians, cardinal Walter Kasper. Anglican Bishop Nigel McCulloch of Manchester, England, who represented the archbishop of Canterbury, did the first reading in English. The second reading was pronounced in French by the Rev. Jean-Arnold de Clermont, president of the Conference of European Churches, and in German by Bishop Wolfgang Huber, head of the Evangelical Church in Germany. Cardinals and archbishops, Orthodox, Anglican and other religious leaders and international politicians joined ordinary Christians in prayer during the funeral, including the president of Germany Horst Köhler, the retired archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger. The funeral was attended by approximately 10,000 people.[7][8]

In 2010, for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Taizé, five years after Brother Roger's death, ecumenical messages of love and benediction were received from church leaders as varied as:

  • Pope Benedict XVI,
  • Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople,
  • Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow,
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams,
  • The General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, Ishmael Noko,
  • The General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, Setri Nyomi,
  • The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Olav Fykse-Tveit,
  • The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu,
  • L’archevêque anglican du Cap, Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba,
  • Le Président de la Conférence des Évêques d’Allemagne, archevêque Robert Zollitsch,
  • Le président de la Conférence épiscopale des Pays-Bas, Mgr. van Luyn,
  • Le président de la communauté des Églises chrétiennes dans le canton de Vaud, pasteur Martin Hoegger.[9][10]

At the end of 2010, the community was composed of about one hundred brothers, from Protestant and Catholic traditions,[11] who originate from about thirty countries across the world.[12] The community is currently led by Brother Alois, a German-born Catholic, who had been appointed by Brother Roger before his death.

Engagement with youth culture[edit]

In the 1960s young people began to visit the Taizé community. The first international young adults meeting was organized in Taizé in 1966 with 1400 participants from 30 countries.[citation needed]

The village church of Taizé, which had been used for the community's prayers, became too small to accommodate the pilgrims.[citation needed] A new church, the Church of Reconciliation, was built in the early 1960s with the help of volunteers, and expanded several times in the subsequent decades, first with tents, and then with simple wooden annexes.

In 1970, in response to student protests taking place all over Europe and the world, as well as the Second Vatican Council, Brother Roger announced a "Council of Youth",[13] whose main meeting took place in 1974.

At the end of the 1970s, the meetings and surrounding activities began to be referred to[who?] as a "Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth". The community decided to focus on youth.[citation needed]

Music and worship[edit]

The community, though Western European in origin, has sought to include people and traditions worldwide. They have sought to demonstrate this in the music and prayers where songs are sung in many languages, and have included chants and icons from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The music emphasizes simple phrases, usually lines from Psalms or other pieces of Scripture, repeated and sometimes also sung in canon.[14] Earlier Taizé community music was conceived and composed by Jacques Berthier.[15] Later Joseph Gelineau became a major contributor to the music.[15]

Ecumenical services based on this model and music are held in many churches throughout the world.[16]

Young adult meetings in Taizé[edit]

Small discussion groups.

Throughout the year, meetings for young adults between 17 and 30 years old (and, within certain limits, for adults and families with children) take place in Taizé. The number of visitors reaches more than 5000 during the summer and on Easter.[citation needed] Meetings usually last from Sunday to Sunday, though it is also possible to just come for a few days, or, for young volunteers, to stay for a longer time.

Several sisters also help with running the meetings. However, they are not "Taizé Sisters". These sisters come from various orders, most notably the Catholic order of St. Andrew from Belgium. The Sisters of St. Andrew live in the neighboring village Ameugny.

The schedule of a typical day in the youth meetings:[17]

  • Morning prayer
  • Breakfast
  • Introduction to the day with a brother of the community followed by quiet reflection or small group discussion
  • Midday prayer
  • Lunch
  • Song practice [optional]
  • Meetings
  • Tea time
  • Workshops [optional]
  • Supper
  • Evening prayer
  • Informal gathering at Oyak (a common area at Taizé)

The evening prayer is broadcast every Saturday at 22h (Central European time) by the German radio station Domradio and provided online as a podcast.[18]

Young adult meetings worldwide: Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth[edit]

Regular European meetings[edit]

European Meeting 2007 in Geneva.
European Meeting 2007 in Geneva.

The Taizé Community attempts to send pilgrims back from youth meetings to their local churches, to their parishes, groups or communities, to undertake, with many others, a “Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth.”[19] Every year around New Year (usually from 28 December to 1 January), a meeting in a large European city attracts several tens of thousands of young adults.[20][21] It is organized by brothers of the Taizé Community, sisters of St. Andrew, and young volunteers from all over Europe, and from the host city.

The participants stay with local families or in very simple group accommodations. In the morning, they take part in a program organized by the parish closest to their accommodation. For their midday meal, all participants travel to a central location, usually the local exhibition halls. The meal is followed by a common prayer, and the afternoon is spent in workshops covering faith, art, politics and social topics. In the evening, everyone meets again for the evening meal and an evening prayer.

Regular international meetings[edit]

In his "Unfinished Letter",[22] published after his death, Brother Roger is quoted to have proposed to "widen" the "Pilgrimage of Trust" originating from the Taizé community. As a result, international meetings for young adults have begun to take place, beginning with Kolkata in 2006. The program closely resembles the European meetings, though some aspects, such as the songs, are often adapted to the local culture.

References[edit]

  1. ^ English translation republished by SPCK in 2012
  2. ^ Alain Woodrow (19 August 2005). "Obituary: Brother Roger Schutz". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 February 2010. .
  3. ^ The beginnings, Official Taizé Community Website
  4. ^ A lifelong commitment, Official Taizé Community Website
  5. ^ "The Brothers of Taizé", TIME Magazine, September 5, 1960
  6. ^ "Taizé ecumenical community founder Frère Roger assassinated". Wikinews. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Tagliabue, John. "At His Funeral, Brother Roger Has an Ecumenical Dream Fulfilled". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Allen, Peter. "Some 10,000 Christians gather in Taize for funeral of Brother Roger". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  9. ^ http://www.taize.fr/en_article11121.html
  10. ^ http://www.taize.fr/fr_article11117.html
  11. ^ Parable of Community, Official Taizé Community Website
  12. ^ "BBC - Religions - Christianity: Taizé". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  13. ^ "The Pilgrims of Taizé", TIME Magazine, April 29, 1974
  14. ^ Prayer and Song, Official Taizé Community Website
  15. ^ a b "Taize Worship". Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  16. ^ http://www.taize.fr/en_rubrique10.html retrieved 8 November 2013
  17. ^ "What happens each day", Official Taizé Community Website
  18. ^ http://www.domradio.de/podcast/lichterfeier-aus-taize.xml
  19. ^ "Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth", Official Taizé Community Website
  20. ^ http://www.lalsace.fr/actualite/2013/12/28/20-000-jeunes-chretien-arrivent-en-alsace-pour-sa-rencontre-de-taize-commence-a-strasbourg-avec
  21. ^ http://www.news.va/en/news/taize-in-berlin-learn-to-trust-in-christ
  22. ^ "Unfinished Letter", Official Taizé Community Website

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°30′49″N 4°40′37″E / 46.51361°N 4.67694°E / 46.51361; 4.67694