Last week we remembered Brother Roger’s death, just six years ago. It was almost the same day that, sixty-five years earlier, in August 1940, Brother Roger had come here to Taizé for the first time. He was 25 years old, the same age as many of you.
Why did he come to settle in this village? World War II had begun. He wanted his spiritual quest to be lived out in the midst of a difficult human situation, in the midst of the greatest suffering of the time. And he began to offer hospitality in his house in Taizé refugees who were fleeing the war.
This choice made at the beginning remained a constant throughout his lifetime and for the entire life of our community: we want simultaneously to seek a personal relationship with God in prayer and remain in the places where humanity is torn apart.
That is why all of us do not stay in Taizé, but a number of our brothers live in small groups in various countries. They share living conditions of great poverty, and they also seek to build bridges between different cultures.
Here with us there is a group of young Bangladeshis. They know that some of our brothers have been living in their country, Bangladesh, for the past 35 years. They share both the difficulties of life and the beauty of that young country. Our brothers live close to the very poor, including many young people with disabilities and street children.
Brother Roger himself would sometimes spend time in a place of poverty. With him, some of us lived in Nairobi, Kenya, in an immense slum called Mathare Valley. Brothers now live in Nairobi; they have just had a meeting there with young people from different backgrounds and different countries.
Other brothers are living in the North East of Brazil. The country is developing rapidly, yet the neighborhood they live in is suffering from abject poverty and violence, even among children. They support the local children and a nearby school.
This is part of the legacy that Brother Roger left us: to live in community and practice hospitality here in Taizé, and also to share the life of those suffering around the world.
This is not only true for us brothers, it’s true for all: a communion with God in prayer turns all of us into men and women open to others. Prayer stimulates us to reach out to others, and especially to pay attention to the weakest, the poorest.
Last week, a few of us brothers were in Madrid for World Youth Day. We were given a large church for five days and we celebrated sixteen common prayers there. The church was full each time. This enabled us to gauge the thirst for an inner life alive in young people from all continents.
By our presence in this church, we were asked to provide a place, as in Taizé, where young people could go to the wellsprings of faith, in personal prayer, and ask themselves: what is the source of my life, are my roots in a personal encounter with Christ, and what are the consequences I draw from this?
We can no longer believe just by tradition; a personal decision, an encounter with God is fundamental.
This personal search goes together with another key experience made in Madrid and which you also have here—an experience of the Church, of the universality of communion in Christ, a communion without boundaries, open to all horizons. No one can discover Christ in isolation, without others.
If you could all draw from this experience of communion the ability to create trust around you.... No human society is possible without trust. This trust is not naïve; it is based on the certainty that Christ brings to birth a new solidarity among all human beings.
As Christians, we seek to overcome fear, fear of others, fear of the future, by creating trust, and this is an essential contribution to a more peaceful world.