Meditation by Brother Alois

In Memory of Brother Roger

Thursday 14 August 2014

Week after week it is a joy to be so many on the hill and to sing to God in prayer. Christ unites us in a great diversity. The unity that we are given to live is an image of what we hope for all humanity.

These days, we are close to the young adult meeting that is taking place now at Tlemcen in Algeria. Every day they have the same prayers as we do and the same reflection.

This week is special. On Saturday, August 16, we will honor the memory of Brother Roger who died violently here in the Church of Reconciliation nine years ago.

Brother Roger loved to invite people to joy. He did not think so much of those great moments of happiness which we all know but which remain short-lived. The joy he was talking about seems to me closer to peace, the peace we experience when we are united inwardly and not divided, torn apart.

We cannot create this inner unity ourselves; we have to receive it. We feel it especially when we know we are loved.

But the love that comes from other people and that we give to others is so fragile and painfully limited. It must be constantly renewed. Brother Roger knew that we sometimes hurt even those we love.

And what about all those who are rejected in society, those who experience violence, war, incurable diseases? We are often powerless against calamities or against lacerations we see in the world or close to us.

In the face of evil, Brother Roger resolutely took the path that seemed to him that of the Gospel: surrendering to God in heartfelt trust. I see more and more the value of this way of Brother Roger’s when he said “Happy are those who have surrendered to you, O God, in heartfelt trust.” What did he mean by that?

This is a struggle that can take all our strength: making the inner decision to entrust ourselves to God. Not a distant God, but to God who is love, who in Christ has shared our joys and sorrows and who dwells in us by the Holy Spirit.

On Saturday, we will place in the front of the Church the icon of friendship that Brother Roger loved so much: it shows Christ standing beside his friend, that is to say, each and every one of us. When we look at this icon, we can discover how close Christ is, even if we feel nothing of his presence.

Trusting in Christ, even without feeling his presence, this is the “heartfelt trust” Brother Roger was talking about. In all situations, we can take the risk of trusting that God’s love will have the final word in our lives and in the course of history.

Heartfelt trust is strengthened in us when we let it penetrate our lives: when we do not respond too quickly to harsh words, when we refuse to accuse a nation when only part of it acts wrongly, when we remain close to a sick person without being able to help him or her.

Brother Roger came to Taizé alone when he was 25 years old. It was at the beginning of the Second World War. Faced with violence and the denial of humanity, what could he do? He did not have the means to stop the barbarism. But even alone, he was able to welcome those in need. And above all he made the decision already to prepare for peace.

How? He was aware that the Christians had a special responsibility for peace. He said to himself: let us begin, with just a few persons, really to live out peace and reconciliation among ourselves. Let us be reconciled between Christians to be, together, a sign of Christ’s peace.

Today too, we are disconcerted by the violence and the disasters in the world. We think of course of the armed conflicts in Ukraine, in Gaza, in Iraq and elsewhere. And yet we are not condemned to remain passive. We too can prepare peace. Is there not in this a call that Brother Roger addresses us today?

We can begin with just a few persons, wherever we are, wherever we are sent. We should be aware that lasting results do not come from a spectacular action, but from a peace that we receive from Christ, and that radiates out first of all to those around us

“Acquire peace and a multitude will find it around you.” Brother Roger liked to quote these words of Saint Seraphim of Sarov.

Tomorrow we will celebrate the Virgin Mary. In some countries this is a great feast. When I think of Mary, I think of the courage she had to say yes to something that seemed impossible, something which was completely beyond her. She had to accept—and sometimes it was not easy—that Jesus was so different from human expectations.

Mary accompanied her son even beneath the Cross, where all hopes seemed to die. It is a joy to sing with her, who is in heaven, her song, the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”.

During the Eucharist tomorrow night, we will receive in our community a young man from Guatemala; his name is Henry. Asking to be a brother of our community, he wants to follow Christ and say with Brother Roger: “Happy whoever surrenders themselves to you, O God, with heartfelt trust”.

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Last updated: 16 August 2014