On the Sunday after Easter, young people from Vienna and the surrounding region gathered in the Jugendkirche, the “Youth Church”. Together with the team from the Jugendkirche, they had a time of reflection on the words of the disciples, “We have seen the Lord” (John 20.25). What does it mean when we say that Christ is alive among us as the Risen One? How can we meet Jesus today? How does Easter transform our lives? How can we bring the light of Christ to people who are experiencing moments of darkness?
The icons of the Cross and of “Friendship” were in the church for the prayer. Afterwards there was a short bible introduction, sharing groups and workshops: young people, who had been to Equator, spoke of their experience there. A priest from Zambia spoke of the signs of hope and the challenges in his country. A space for silence provided an opportunity for silent prayer and meditation.
The journey continued in Carinthia. For many years, groups of young people have been coming to Taizé from Völkermarkt, near the frontier with Slovenia. So it was a great joy to meet them again, this time on their home ground. The evening was prepared by young people from different localities who regularly prepare prayers with songs of Taizé throughout the year. It was an opportunity to talk together about the summer meetings in Taizé and the European meeting in Geneva.
In a former Franciscan monastery in Grein on the Danube (Upper Austria), there has been a regular prayer with songs from Taizé for many years. The celebration of light, with candles for everyone, recalled the fact that the Risen Christ is close to each one of us.
Saalfelden and Salzburg
There are more and more school groups coming to Taizé for a week or a few days. In a technical high school in Saalfelden, this idea has been around for some time. Now a group of young students have decided to dare to set out and go. None of them has been in Taizé before. The professor of religion showed a film and explained a bit. So the visit at the town very close to Salzburg was a good occasion to talk more. There was a one hour meeting at the school with them. Some of them do not have a regular contact with a parish, but they very much want to undertake this journey. They look forward to meeting other young people of their own age from the other continents and to finding out how others live of their faith. Right now, expectation is high; their bags are packed and we look forward to seeing them again in Taizé.
In the evening, we were guests at the church of the Greek-Catholic parish. The Catholic youth of Salzburg had prepared the prayer. It was a great joy for everyone to pray with these splendid icons that the priest explained us. There was also the “icon of friendship” which has been travelling in Austria since the meeting in Zagreb. The hymns of the Church of the East and the songs of Taizé helped everyone present that evening to feel something of the wonderful universal communion of the Church.
At Innsbruck there is a house of the Diocesan Caritas that is like a sign of hope for the world of today, where so often the differences between people count more than the similarities. “The most varied people live together here: old people and young, healthy and sick, with a profession and out of work, people from this country and foreigners. Each one brings their talents and their gifts to the community. They are from different Christian denominations: Catholic, Protestant, Armenian, Orthodox and so on, or from other religions. As far as possible, we want to offer to everyone the possibility of practising their religion. We would like to respond to the deepest aspirations of people’s faith in all their dimensions”, writes one of the people in charge. They had the idea of inviting a brother of Taizé, for prayer together and exchange, and spending some days in Taizé with a group of believers of Islam and Christians. So this afternoon was a first contact. We met in the Moslems’ prayer room and Imam Mamadou prayed for peace. We took time to talk together and the afternoon ended with prayer with the songs from Taizé in the chapel. Afterwards, we went to Stams for evening prayer in a home for children and young people. Many people came from Stams and the surrounding region.
The last stop on this journey through Austria was Vorarlberg. A shuttle bus service has been bringing people from there to Taizé for about thirty years, and many people there know the Community. In the afternoon, it was a great joy to meet the Cistercians Sisters of Mariastern and to pray with them. Some of the sisters had been in Taizé before they entered the congregation and the monastic life of prayer and community provided a starting point for a beautiful and deep exchange. In the evening, young adults from all over Vorarlberg gathered for prayer in the Church of Hohenems. Then we met in the “Open Evening Academy” which is run by the youth ministry of the diocese. During the exchange, people spoke about the testimony of Roger Brother. Some had been enriched through meetings with him.