Olivier Clément


"Trust will have the last word"

A writer and theologian, professor at the Saint Sergius Institute of Orthodox Theology in Paris, Olivier Clément strove to facilitate the meeting between Christians of the East and the West. A close friend of the Community, he wrote a book called, “Taizé: A meaning to life” (GIA Publications). Here are some extracts.

At Taizé, brothers from different and sometimes opposing denominations, cultures, races, and languages pray and work together. Yes, it is really possible; Christ destroys every separating wall. This historical and geographical variety becomes unimportant beside the variety of personal gifts. The community is a beehive of activity. Some brothers are creators of beauty: they paint pictures or icons, or they produce wonderful pottery which can ennoble everyday life. Others make translations and print important works from the Christian tradition. Languages are also studied, in response to the international calling of the community. It is a small but deeply experienced foretaste of the reconciled and transfigured humanity towards which history is painfully groping; and in this process of history, the Spirit is always at work, undermining whatever is impenetrable yet illuminating the creations of art, science and spirituality.
Young people today are tired of talk and tired of scoffing: they want authenticity. It is no use talking to them about communion if we cannot show them a place where communion is being worked out - "come and see." At such a place people are welcomed as they are without being judged; no one is asked for their doctrinal passport; but nevertheless no secret is made of the fact that everyone is gathered around Christ, and that with him - "I am the way," he said - a way forward begins for those who want it. (p.12)

This link between a deep spiritual experience and a creative opening to the world is at the heart of the meetings at Taizé, which have been centered for many years on the theme “inner life and human solidarity.” This is the kind of Christianity we should be aiming at, for the more someone becomes a person of prayer the more they become a person who is responsible. In fact, nothing shows more responsibility than to pray. This is something that really needs to be understood and communicated to young people. Prayer is not a diversion. It is not a sort of drug for Sunday morning. It involves us in the mystery of the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, around a face that reveals every other face for us, and which in the end makes us servants of every human face. (p.46)

One of the key words at Taizé is "trust". The meetings organized by the community in Europe and on the other continents make up part of what is called a "pilgrimage of trust on earth". The word "trust" is perhaps one of the humblest of words, one of the most everyday and simple words that there are, but nevertheless it is one of the most essential. Instead of speaking about "love", of agape, or even of "communion", of koinonia, which are heavy words, we could perhaps more often speak of "trust", because in trust all of these realities are present. In trust there is the mystery of love, the mystery of communion, and finally there is the mystery of God as Trinity. (p.69)

Last updated: 10 April 2008