Friday, 28 December 2012
We have come to Rome as pilgrims. We are all on the road to a more personal communion with God and to a deeper communion with one another.
On this first evening, we already want to thank all those who are welcoming us in the parishes, families and religious communities.
And to those who are sleeping in collective accommodations I would like to say: even if you are not staying in a family, you will find joy in being together, helping one another in the simplicity of this pilgrimage.
What will our life be like these days? In Rome we will discover indications of the continuity of the faith from the apostles down to the present day. And also, coming as we do from different nations and from different Christian denominations, we will deepen our solidarity, at a moment in history when material difficulties are fostering fear and withdrawal.
By our gathering we will open wide the doors of trust and solidarity.
So it is essential that each of us undertake a kind of inner pilgrimage these days, uncovering in ourselves the wellsprings of trust in God.
Uncovering the wellsprings of trust in God! That is what we will continue to strive for throughout the coming year. Pope Benedict XVI, who will welcome us tomorrow evening for a prayer in St. Peter’s Square, has launched a year of faith.
For Christians of all denominations, it is vital to respond in a new way to the question: why believe in God? In a world where trust in God is less and less self-evident, a personal answer to this question gives direction to our lives.
The “Proposals 2013”that you received when you arrived can set us on the road. We need each other to live out trust in God. No one can believe all alone. So we need to talk about it together with our friends, in our groups, with those we meet. Let us ask ourselves: how can trust in God sustain us?
Let us open our hearts to this unheard-of message: God, who is beyond anything we can imagine, has shared our life in Jesus, and by the Holy Spirit he dwells in each of us. For many this message is difficult to understand. And no one can claim to understand it fully.
But when we take the time to listen to this message attentively, something in us can change. We realize that we are loved, that our existence is not a chance event, that our life is a gift, that we are never alone.
At the same time, our relationships with others change. We no longer need to prove the value of our existence, to erect walls of self-defense. Others are no longer a threat. And even the instability of our lives no longer causes us to be afraid; it leads us to welcome God.
Nobody can live without relying on something. One person relies on the hope of a better future, another on the love of a close friend or relative, and another on accumulating wealth or pursuing success. To believe means to rely on God, to dare and rely on his love.
God offers to be this support for us. And then we are free to open ourselves to the future and to others without fear.
A thousand times in our life we set out on the road that leads from worry towards confident trust. It is an inner struggle. The important thing is not getting caught up in fear, bitterness, and hopelessness.
This inner struggle awakens creative energies within us. It awakens our hearts. It enables us to leave behind what can alienate us; it restores us to ourselves. It does not let us settle for mediocrity, and above all it leads us to live intensely.
To live intensely. God wants nothing else for each of us. Jesus says clearly in the Gospel: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Everything starts with the trust placed in us by God. We can let our lives be renewed these days by welcoming the look of trust with which God contemplates each and every one of us.
Saturday, 29 December 2012
For brother Alois’ address on 29/12/2012, see 45 000 young people in Saint Peter’s Square to pray with Pope Benedict.
Sunday, 30 December 2012
A European meeting in Rome! We discussed this for a long time with Cardinal Vallini, the cardinal vicar of Rome. Thank you, dear Cardinal Vallini, for having made possible this meeting welcomed in so many parishes of Rome. And we are also grateful for the welcome of the other denominations present in Rome, Orthodox and Protestant. Now the Cardinal will speak to us.
Dear young people, pilgrims to Rome from many European countries! I greet you with affection: welcome!
I renew to all of you the joy expressed last night by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square to welcome you to our city for this pilgrimage of trust, organized by the Taizé Community.
You came in great numbers, and we have tried to welcome you with simplicity and affection in parishes, families, religious communities and in all the structures that we could find, with the special and generous involvement of the City of Rome. I thank all those who have generously opened the doors of their homes. We beg your pardon if not all the places of hospitality can offer the comforts that we would have liked.
Rome is the city of the apostles Peter and Paul, who did not hesitate to give their lives here to the point of martyrdom for their faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind.
After them, in their ranks many men and women have lived the Gospel with fidelity and have given heroic testimonies in every field of life that only in God, the Father of mercies, human beings can give a full meaning to their existence.
Our catacombs, the splendid basilicas, as well as the many churches and chapels scattered throughout our city attest to the sincere faith of the Romans across the centuries down to the present day.
In our time, new challenges arise in the faith, which is increasingly called into question, and the Church of Rome is committed to proclaiming the Gospel, so that our contemporaries may receive it and live it out with enthusiasm in the certainty that only in Jesus Christ the mystery of humanity receives true light.
Each of you, dear young people, is at an age when you design your life and want to find the path to happiness. I can tell you with sincerity and frankness that, when I was your age, I too was pensive about my future and I wondered how to make sure not to take the wrong road. With joy I can bear witness that I am sure that all the truths of human life find in Jesus Christ, their source and their culmination.
It is this faith to which we wish to testify these days and we hope that you will return to your countries with great trust in your hearts that Jesus Christ is the Way who explains man to man, who reconciles human beings among themselves, who makes them passionately concerned to build a world where justice and peace can be shared among all people, especially the poorest.
Believe me, dear young people, that this trust in Jesus Christ is well placed, and contribute, through your spiritual path, your commitment and your enthusiasm to generate hope in the world. Proclaim trust to every man and woman whom you meet on your way.
Support with your prayers the Christians of Rome, as we shall continue to pray for you, that the Lord may be with you always and grant you peace.
The prayer yesterday evening with Pope Benedict XVI will remain etched in our memories as a light that helps us go forward. I gave the Pope a small sign of hope that young Africans entrusted to us during the recent stage of our pilgrimage of trust in Rwanda. That sign was a basket called “agaseke” with sorghum seeds.
The young Africans also gave us those little baskets for every country in Europe as well as for those from other continents. We will distribute them every evening as a way of greeting the peoples present at our meeting. May this seed of hope blossom everywhere in the world!
In Kigali, we brothers went as simple witnesses to the desire of the population of Rwanda to rebuild their country, and in a wider sense as witnesses to the aspirations of young African Christians to prepare the future of their continent. The participants came not just from Rwanda, but from throughout the Great Lakes region, from East Africa and from still further away.
Rwanda has been through a period of great suffering. Memories of the wounds remain strong. But the country is getting back on its feet. We admire the women and men who bring compassion and healing, for example by taking care of orphans as if they were their own children.
What we have brought back from Rwanda is above all the call to reconciliation. The Church wants to contribute to an in-depth reconciliation, not a forced coexistence but a reconciliation of hearts.
This is a call for all of us: how can we reconcile what seems to be, and perhaps is, incompatible? We are not doomed to resignation or passivity, because Christ came to reconcile what seemed to be in permanent opposition. On the cross he extended his arms to all. He is our peace! Reconciliation begins when we look towards him, all together.
From Kigali, two of my brothers and I went to Goma, North Kivu, just as the recent upheavals were causing tens of thousands of displaced families to flood into the region. They were in great distress, often in utter destitution.
In Goma, under extraordinary circumstances, we met peacemakers and witnesses to love. Because of their faith they remain on their feet amidst chaos, fear and abandonment. We keep before our eyes the image of a Church that remains a place of welcome, even when no other structures function.
I remain deeply impressed by the vitality of young Christians in Africa. This dynamism is a kind of Gospel encouragement to stand firm in hope. When you plant the sorghum seeds in your different countries, recall the hope of the young Africans and this will be a support for you!
After Kigali and Rome, how will our pilgrimage of trust continue? What will be the next stages in our journey towards the gathering for a new solidarity in 2015 at Taizé?
If this year has made us particularly attentive to young Africans, the coming year will enable us to listen to young Asians. A few of us, in October-November, will make a pilgrimage of peace and reconciliation in several countries—in Korea, in India, and we will also go to express solidarity in places aspiring to more justice and freedom.
Then we have the next European meeting, from December 28th, 2013 to January 1st, 2014. It will take place on the border between two countries, in a city which is a symbol of reconciliation in Europe, a symbol of an open and united Europe. The European meeting will be held in the city of Strasbourg.
We will be welcomed in Alsace on the French side and on the German side in Baden.
A childThe first “agaseke” baskets with sorghum seeds are for French young people from Alsace and young Germans from Baden with Archbishop Grallet, who is here tonight on behalf of various churches in the region. The archbishop will say a few words.
The Archbishop of Strasbourg
From France and Germany, in the name of the Catholic Church and Protestants from Alsace and Baden, I invite you with great joy to take part in the European meeting in Strasbourg next year.
Strasbourg is the city of reconciliation between peoples, and the city where Europe is built. For a long time now we have been living a de facto ecumenism. Welcome to all!
A childThere are also baskets for young people from the Czech Republic, Belgium, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, Luxembourg, Estonia, Latvia, Montenegro, Slovenia and those who welcome us, the youth of Italy.There is a basket for the young people from Asia, and this evening we greet the young people from Lebanon, Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and the Philippines.We also greet the bishops, priests, pastors and Church leaders of Rome, Italy, and several other countries. We greet the political leaders and the mayor of Rome.
Monday, 31 December 2012
Yesterday I announced the next steps in our pilgrimage of trust. But this pilgrimage continues first and foremost in the daily life of each of us.
Becoming a pilgrim in order to create bonds of communion and friendship—this is necessary everywhere. With those close to us, with those with whom we live. We need one another, because we are all in some sense poor people.
We need each other in the life of our societies. Development and progress can no longer be reserved for a few, while the greater part of humanity grows poorer. Increasing economic difficulties do not impel us to less solidarity but to more solidarity.
The sharing of material goods, far from threatening our well-being, can foster personal fulfillment and joy in living. During these days, many of you have found encouragement by discovering practical initiatives of solidarity here in Rome, for example those designed to provide employment to youth or to support refugees.
And we also need one another between peoples and continents. One of the causes of injustice in the world lies in mutual ignorance. If we had a closer knowledge of some situations, it would be easier for us to find ways to leave oppositions behind.
Christ brings us together, from all languages and all peoples. How can we let a passion for unity burn within us, that fire which Christ came to light on the earth?
Tomorrow, January 1st, is the day of peace. If we, as Christians, would together have as our priority a commitment to justice and peace, a new vitality of Christianity could arise. A humble Christianity, which imposes nothing but is the salt of the earth.
For this it is important that we work together, coming from different Christian traditions. We should not expect the road to unity to be programmed to the end; let us anticipate reconciliation! We can no longer keep up the separations. Because of our divisions, the salt of the Gospel message is losing its flavor.
As baptized Christians, we all belong to Christ; we are part of the Body of Christ. Our identity as baptized persons should come first, before our denominational identity!
Let us refuse to do separately what we can do together. Let us visit one another. There is also mutual ignorance between different Christian traditions. When we go beyond it, we discover Gospel treasures in others.
Let us all turn humbly towards Christ, perhaps in silence. Let us listen together to his word. Let us seek his face together, as we are doing these days.
Then the Holy Spirit comes, as at Pentecost. And together we can put into practice the call of Christ: “You will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.”
A child: Tonight there are African baskets, filled with sorghum seeds, for the young people from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Sweden, Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Finland, Serbia and Greece.There is a basket for the young people from Africa, and we greet the young people from South Africa, Namibia, Togo, Senegal, Tanzania, Benin and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Tuesday, 1 January 2013
We are already at the end of our beautiful meeting. Tomorrow, almost all of you will head for home. For my part, with a few brothers and a hundred young people from all over Europe, I will continue this pilgrimage by going to Istanbul. There, with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew and the various Churches present in that city, we will celebrate Epiphany.
A question will accompany us all: Is it possible to continue at home what we have lived here? How can I have God as a reference-point in my daily life?
We can all sometimes have the strong impression that, in day-to-day life, we are left to ourselves. God can seem very far away.
For some, finding a direction in life is not obvious. It is difficult today to predict the future, even the near future. Many study or acquire training without having any idea what it could lead to. How then can we create a life-plan?
Of course we have no easy solutions to offer. But we, the brothers of our Taizé Community, want all of us to leave Rome with an inner strength that enables us to face the future with courage and joy.
When the supports that society offer us falter, it becomes all the more important to find in ourselves an inner strength that allows us to go forward.
I am convinced that trust in God can awaken this inner strength. Trust is more than just a feeling; it is possible to make a conscious decision to trust in God.
To support this decision, just as in human friendships, we need to invest ourselves fully in the search for a personal relationship with God. And we can move forward in this direction by looking towards Christ.
When he was young, Jesus made a basic choice that oriented his existence decisively. He put his trust in God’s love. He trusted God even in failures, which he also experienced.
And he never obscured the love of God that shone through him. In him the love of God in its entirety became visible. During the coming year we can meditate more on this. God, who is beyond anything we can imagine, communicated himself through a fully human life, the life of Jesus.
It is through a simple life that Jesus radiated the love of God. He was not a superman above us; he was instead much more human than we are.
In looking towards him, we can understand that God enables us to trust our humanity. Trust in God is one with trust in human beings. Faith in God leads us to become more human, to refuse anything that dehumanizes both ourselves and others.
With Christ, we are all children of God. Renewing day after day this trust in God gives us inner strength and even tenacity. They can orient our entire existence, underlying small or large decisions.
So even with a reduced freedom, even in the midst of material difficulties, even with little certainty for the future, we can find the taste and the courage to take charge of our future.
We would all like to listen, as if they were addressed to each one of us, to the words the apostle Paul had once written to a young leader of a Christian community named Timothy, “Fan into flame the gift God has deposited in you. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of strength, love and self-control.”
A child: Tonight there are African baskets, filled with sorghum seeds, for the young people from Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Albania, Moldova, Spain, Kosovo, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia and Malta.There is a basket for the youth of Australia and New Zealand.There is a basket for the youth of America and we greet the young people from the United States, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Dominica, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Argentina.