I arrived in Oslo early this morning in order to take part in the Taizé meeting that began this afternoon. What a day it has been! In the morning, the many volunteers from in and around Oslo decorated the cathedral and made the final preparations for the welcome while the music group rehearsed for the prayers. Then, suddenly, a crowd of people was there, coming from many different countries. Apart from the groups from Norway and Sweden, most of the European countries are represented and there are even people from Bangladesh and Palestine. There was also a young man who began his journey towards Oslo on the 2nd of September, when he set out on his bike from Germany. What a pilgrimage!
Everyone finally gathered for the evening prayer that began beautifully with the words of the Bishop of Oslo: "We are invited to a pilgrimage. We are here because our Lord Jesus Christ invites us. We will walk, pray and sing with the love of God, the peace of Jesus Christ, and the joy of the Holy Spirit." During the prayer, Brother Alois spoke some words about forgiveness and the prayer continued for a long time with the prayer around the cross. There we could remember that "welcoming God’s forgiveness empowers us to forgive others."
A day of sharing... What word can better describe it? Wherever I found myself, in the small sharing groups, at the meals, during a silent moment in the sun, it struck me how willing everyone was to share about their lives, thoughts and ideas. We began the day together with a Bible reflection according to age and talked about how prayer, faith and trust is also a question about relationship; the relationship to other people and the relationship to God. Do we have a God we must give things to in order to make him happy, or do we have a God who wants to give us things and enter into a deep relationship with us?
During the afternoon several workshops were held with various, interesting topics. One was about "global engagement", another dealt with "difficult Bible texts", a third aimed to play "theatre for trust", a fourth introduced the music of Taizé ... At the evening prayer several representatives from different churches were present and the cathedral was illuminated by the hundreds of little candles that were lit to express the joy of the Resurrection. After the prayer, for those who did not stay longer in the church, it was possible to go a café with the descriptive name "Oyak" and there continue the sharing. A long and wonderful day!
Saturday evening prayer in the cathedral
Our meeting in Oslo draws to an end and the Brothers have left for Trondheim to share an evening of prayer with the people who live further north in the country.
This morning everyone went to different church services in Oslo where the usual Sunday service was combined with the songs of Taizé in a nice and simple way. Many of the participants then left the capital while others explored it on an "improvised walk" around the city.
Near the cathedral in Oslo
Before leaving the beautiful country of Norway, those of us who have come from abroad can do nothing but talk about the warm welcome we have received here. As one put it, the Norwegians have really shown us a "remarkable hospitality". We have now walked together for three days and will go back home to continue the pilgrimage of trust in the places where we live... The words that we have sung every day during the weekend and which the youth priest, Jan Christian, underlined this morning can help us on that way: "Nothing can ever come between us and the love of God. The love of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus." The meeting in Norway has certainly been a sign of that love!
Prayer at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 19 September
The prayer is about to start and more and more people are coming into the church and finding a place on the floor to sit. Everyone sits side by side in the biggest cathedral in Norway, Nidarosdomen; the church is full in time for the prayers to start. Finally, the day has arrived, the day for which we have been planning for half a year, and practicing for during the last few weeks in the choir. To see the church filling up with young people is a beautiful sight!
The Bishop of Nidaros welcomes us, and we begin by singing “Confitemini Domino”. The voices mix into a beautiful sound that fills the church. During the prayers, Brother Alois shares thoughts on the themes of love and faith in the world. With children sitting at his feet and a quiet church full of people, we can feel the power of love and faith, and how great it can be. When he has finished speaking, with three children, Brother Alois starts lighting the candles that everyone received when they arrived.
The light spreads from the front and goes all the way to the back; soon the light from the candles fills the church as a beautiful sign of sharing, love and the Risen Christ. This feeling follows us into the night, and while some remain seated and continue to sing the songs, others go to share their thoughts with the brothers, and still others go out into the night. When I go from the church tonight, it is with a new light in my heart and with the song: “God is love. Dare to live for love. Do not be afraid”. (Bóg jest miłością)