DVD Lumen Christi

Journeying towards Easter [with a fourth excerpt]

Father Gustave Martelet, a Jesuit priest, shared the same passion as the brothers of Taizé: to communicate to the women and men of our time the meaning of resurrection. So in 1996, at the invitation of the brothers, he went to Taizé, a place he had known since the 1940s. He enthusiastically accepted the proposal to participate in a documentary on the resurrection.

Father Martelet died in 2014. Brother Roger, who also appears in this film, passed away in 2005. The other brothers shown in the film have since become a little more wrinkled and grey. The film remains young and fresh. This is why we will be showing some excerpts throughout this Lent. A final excerpt will appear on this site in the week following Easter. Few people have been able to speak of the resurrection with the strength and spiritual intelligence of Father Gustave Martelet. His words are still enlightened by the setting in which they are situated: the beautiful songs of Holy Week in Taizé, the liturgy, the search for meaning by thousands of young people.

You can order the DVD via the WebShop, with the transcription of Fr Martelet’s words (In French or English).

The film can be used during Lent and Easter for a time of sharing in your parish, chaplaincy, or reflection groups.

First excerpt | How to love others if we do not know that they are eternal?

Taizé - Lumen Christi Excerpt 1 from Taize on Vimeo.

Culture is the act by which we gain insight into nature, be it by poetry, by reflection, by action, by science; it’s always something done by human beings. Then the whole question is whether or not humanity can, in the world, come to a complete understanding of everything by its own means. Now obviously the wall we come up against is the wall formed by death. No one knows what lies beyond, whence the temptation to say: since we know nothing, there is nothing. Now what revelation represents is that God passes beyond this wall of the senses, so to speak, by coming into this world of sense, of sensitivity, of concrete experience, and in it reveals something that no human person can reveal; namely, God becomes master of the death that dominates us. Quite simply, God masters what masters us. And that is why God appears as the wholly other. So that in that moment, it is not by our own means that we dominate death in Christ. It’s by Christ, and the manner in which Christ dominates death is not by us but for us.

Now that ‘for us’ offers a response to an otherwise insoluble problem that, being insoluble, casts a dark shadow over all our knowledge of the world and of others. How to love others if we do not know that they are eternal? We do not want the persons we love to be victims of death. Therefore the mystery of Christ is ‘for us’ but it is not ‘by us’; there lies the passage from culture to faith. Culture is our way of dominating; it too must be accepted, but in faith we accept totally. Blessed power given for my powerlessness!

Too often, faith is seen as trying to make people feel small. On the contrary, faith implies that the human person is great enough, noble enough to lay claim to its rights of nobility in relationship to nature. And to assert the blazon of freedom in face of all the insults nature inflicts in making us die. Yet at the same time nature serves us. We must not destroy nature, but we are more than nature, therefore we stake claims to our full greatness. And we find a God who understands our claim. The Church’s task is to announce that our claim has been satisfied, as it presents the mystery of Christ. You have the right to make your claim, that is what you have been made for. What is the full image of man? It is Christ. And if that is our goal, we can claim the right to be treated as something more than so much cosmic dust.

Second excerpt | An Unfinished Creation

Taizé - Lumen Christi Excerpt 2 from Taize on Vimeo.

There has always been, in the West, an emphasis on the fact that humankind is sinful; that is in itself incontestable. Only people have insisted on it, relying on a doctrine inherited from the early Church, which does not reflect our contemporary attitudes. They seem not to have realised that in insisting in a rather one-sided way on the mystery of the cross and passion of Christ, they were leaving out something capital: the fact that in humanity sin is not the destruction of all the value of the human person. As a result, in explaining the early part of Genesis they stressed the third chapter, because it showed that humanity is sinful. Then they left aside the second chapter where there is that analysis of the relations between male and female. Now, of course, that man and woman are going to sin, but that sin is not the only thing they do. And if they sin, they have a dignity, the dignity of beings who are conscious and free. OK, their freedom is fallible; but their freedom is still their freedom. People saw only the negative side and in addition they quite forgot the significance of the first chapter of Genesis. The opening chapter in Genesis was written after chapters 2 and 3, and corrects their excessive pessimism.

Whereas, the creation story in Genesis 1 is so optimistic. I like to say, it’s something I often repeat, I will say it again here; ‘good’ is like a great bell in this text booming "it’s good, it’s good". And then comes "It’s very good " to describe humanity! Which is not to say it’s perfect, not at all!

Not so long ago, someone pointed out that the word meaning ‘good’ in Hebrew means "good to take" or "useful". So when Genesis says that the world is good, it’s saying "It’s better it should exist than not exist; we can make something of it." And humankind is ‘very good’ but that does not mean it’s perfect. So that we can say that when God approves of the creation with his great bell booming out "It’s good, it’s good, it’s very good », God is not saying that everything is perfect; it deserves to exist, but it’s incomplete.

Third excerpt | The Risen Christ is the crucified Christ

Taizé - Lumen Christi Excerpt 3, English from Taize on Vimeo.

The taste, the passion for the resurrection, must never make us forget that the risen Christ is the crucified Christ. When Pilate presents Christ to the people during the Passion, saying « Ecce homo – behold the man » he shows them a Man of Sorrows. It’s the culmination of the Incarnation, insofar as the Incarnation includes all the distress, the physical, the moral, the social suffering of humanity, and in particular the cry from the cross: « Why have you abandoned me? » Now the cross must not be ignored, otherwise that would suggest that the risen Christ somehow dispenses us from feeling for all the world’s pain. That would be terrible! But, if there were nothing but the cross, all we would have would be one more dead body! The cross of Christ only has value because it’s the cross of the risen Christ.

In Christianity, you must not take one thing and leave another. We have put too much stress on the cross and forgotten the resurrection. Speaking of the resurrection is not to forget the cross; it means taking them both together.

Fourth excerpt | The reason why the world exists has appeared in the Risen Christ

Taizé - Lumen Christi Excerpt 4, English from Taize on Vimeo.

The resurrection is not an ideology. Faith in the resurrection involves entering into the very gaze of God, the way in which God sees the world.

Maxim the Confessor writes, that on Easter morning, seeing Christ risen, God says, « That’s what I created the world for. » In some sense God then understands, sees, something always aimed at but not so far seen, so to speak. The morning of Easter, for God, is the joy of seeing that the reason why the world exists has at last appeared in the risen Christ.

Order the DVD via the WebShop.

Last updated: 7 April 2021