Some Recent News

Easter, the Joy of the Resurrection, in communion with the suffering of the world

Over Easter more than 6 000 young people spent a week or few days on the hill. Many visitors from the region around Taizé also came to join the brothers and the young people for the Easter celebrations. This year, before the Eucharist of the Resurrection, a great fire was lit outside the Church of Reconciliation. The pascal candle was then lit from the fire and everyone followed it into the church, singing. There was yet another innovation at the end of the Eucharist: as it was the women who, having found the tomb empty, went to announce the resurrection to the disciples, it was the sisters of the different communities present in Taizé who announced the traditional pascal greeting "Christ is risen" in more than 20 languages.

Spring has arrived on the hill and many young people continue to come, especially from Germany and France. An orthodox group from Moscow is also here, as every year at this time, a few weeks after hosting the pilgrim brothers and young people in their parish for Easter.

During the prayers that he offers aloud each day during the midday prayer in Taizé, Brother Alois has recently mentioned many situations of suffering: the war in the east of Ukraine, refugees drowning in the Mediterranean sea, the earthquake victims in Nepal. This attention to the world prepares the young people to return home. As a young French man, Timothy, wrote - he is indeed living the week in Taizé "with a view to going back to our lives, which are less smily and bright than they are in Taizé, so that we can share that flame that we received at home, and make it shine in the daily gloom."

Holy Week in Taizé

Domenico (Italy)

On Sunday morning, under a cloudy sky, pilgrims of all ages and nationalities gathered at The Source. The brothers came carrying branches to celebrate the traditional prayer of Palm Sunday. Despite the weather there was a joyful atmosphere as we prayed and sang under the trees with the blossom just beginning to peep through.
Then together everyone processed from the Source to the Church, over a thousand people. Once in the Church the Eucharist continued with its typical polyphony of languages. In the afternoon groups of young people from Germany, Portugal and many other countries all over the world arrived in Taizé. They will spend a week of prayer and joy in the spirit of solidarity. This is the most important week of the year for all of us and we will celebrate it in communion and simplicity, waiting for the Resurrection of Christ.
It is the first time that I’ve seen the hill in its winter clothes. Everything looks pretty different, but you can always feel the unique magic of this place. The rain is often with us, accompanied by a light wind. The trees are bare and I feel that they can’t wait to wear their summer clothes, while some white flowers are already beginning to welcome the pilgrims.
Around the church my eyes meet a lot of well-known faces. Holy Week seems to me the time at which people whose life was deeply influenced by Taize come back here to re-tune their souls and hearts to the chords of God’s words. You can notice it during the prayer: everybody is singing from the front to the back, and they keep singing for hours and hours. You really can understand that all these people share something; they share their faith and the joy of a moment of fruitful dialogue and reflection.

The Photo of the Moment

Lenten Conférence in Paris

On Sunday 8 March, Brother Alois gave one of the Lenten Conferences at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, on the theme "A Life Which Becomes a Sign". The text of the conference can be found (in French) on the Archdiocese of Paris website.

The big weeks begin again

After the usual mid-winter slowdown the big meetings have begun again. Over the past two weeks, more than 3,000 young people have passed through Taizé, most of them young French and Portuguese students. The largest groups were from Toulouse, Saint Denis, north of Paris, and Lyon in France, Viseu and Santarem in Portugal. The bishops of Angers, Rodez and Saint-Denis also came along to accompany the young people. Other countries were also well represented, including the Czech Republic, Korea and the USA, with a group of thirty teenagers from New York.

On the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18, a prayer was held in Taizé, in the Church of Reconciliation, in the presence of the Bishop of Autun and the reformed pastor of Chalon-sur-Saône. As this year the theme for the week was prepared by Christians from Brazil, two brothers who have spent time living there led a meeting on the life of the fraternity in Alagoinhas.

Two weeks later, at the end of the annual Community Council, the brothers spent a beautiful afternoon in Chalon-sur-Saône, with a prayer in one of the parishes of the town and a visit to the Muslim community. This meeting was particularly important after the tragic events of the beginning of the year in Paris - to experience the warm welcome of the Imam and other members of the community gathered there on that Saturday afternoon.

Echoes from the Meetings

Pastor Laurent Schlumberger, President of the United Protestant Church of France, was recently in Taizé for a short personal visit. He led a meeting with some of the young people about the consequences of the recent tragic events in Paris. Robin, a young person from France gives his reaction to the workshop:

The tragic events in Paris affect us as people, believers and Christians. Our discussion reflected and raised several questions. As people we are shocked by such violence and fear. As believers, we stand in complete solidarity with all Muslims who do not recognize themselves in these acts and who seek, through the witness of their lives, to show that God is love. Finally, as Christians, we have a special sensitivity to questions of profanity and caricature. Jesus himself caricatured society through his parables, and was tried and sentenced to death for blasphemy because "he claimed to be the Son of God" (John 19:7).
Following the large gatherings of January 11, we can see beyond the defence of our freedoms of expression, to a desire for unity and dialogue. In a society in need of signposts and distraught by the violence, don’t Christians have a role to play? Do we dare to talk not only to those close to us, but also with members of Muslim communities around us?

Pope Francis speaks about Taizé and the search for Christian unity

On the morning of November 30, during his apostolic visit to Turkey, Pope Francis was present at the Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at Saint George’s Church, Phanar in Istanbul.

In his speech, Pope Francis spoke about the search for full communion between the Churches and cited three "voices" calling particularly for unity: the poor, victims of conflict and young people. Speaking about the latter, he added:

It is precisely the young who today implore us to make progress towards full communion. I think for example of the many Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant youth who come together at meetings organized by the Taizé community. They do not do this because they are not aware of the differences which still separate us, but because they are able to see beyond them; they are able to embrace what is really important and what already unites us.

The complete text is available in several languages.

The next international gathering led by Taizé will take place at the end of this year, with the participation of young Christians from throughout Europe, in Prague (Czech Republic), from December 29 to January 2, 2015.

Brother Jean-Philippe (1946-2014)

On November 10th, Brother Jean-Philippe died in Taizé. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, he was in his 69th year. After studying literature, he entered the community in 1969.

For a long time, he had been receiving treatment for a heart problem and his heart suddenly gave up whilst he was in his room. His funeral took place in the Church of Reconciliation on November 15th, in the presence of his sister, his brother-in-law and their four sons.

Very soon after his arrival in Taizé, Brother Roger discerned his skills and entrusted many important task to him, particularly in running the material side of the community’s life, and in the editing of books and journals published by Les Presses de Taizé.

At the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, Brother Roger asked him to go periodically to the United States to support the brothers who at the time were living there. He spent several months with them in a poor neighbourhood called Hell’s Kitchen, and in Milwaukee in an African-American neigbourhood. He travelled with other brothers throughout the Midwest and Texas to help young adults prepare to come to the North American meeting that Taizé organised in Dayton, Ohio, in 1992.

He then returned to Taizé and continued with different administrative tasks, including following up the visa questions for young people, who came from distant lands, so that they could take part in the international meetings in Taizé.

When war broke out in the early 1990s in former Yugoslavia, he went to Croatia where there were many refugees. He prepared the stay in Taizé of several groups of children from Bosnia who were in need of respite. He also helped a family from Sarajevo to settle in the village of Taizé. They are still living there today.

Highly educated, this kind and humble man loved all that was beautiful. He was passionate about books and he always had good suggestions on what to read for brothers or others he met.

Throughout his life, he accompanied spiritually a number of people, many of whom expressed today agreement on the quality of his listening, his sensitivity, his respect and his serenity.

Brother Frank (1935-2014)

On January 16, Brother Frank, the brother in charge of the fraternity in Mymensingh (Bangladesh), died in his 79th year. He was born in the Netherlands, in the village of Gasselte in the province of Drenthe. After studying languages, he entered the Taizé Community in 1960.

For a long time he had a weak heart, and then lungs. Recently he felt worse and a rapid return to Taizé was decided. A nurse accompanied him. During a stopover in Istanbul he suffered a heart attack; he was hospitalized and died almost immediately. His body was brought back to Taizé, where his funeral took place on January 21 in the presence of his five siblings; he was the eldest.

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A lifetime of self-giving for the poorest of the poor has come to an end. Whatever the place where he spent time along with other brothers of the community, Brother Frank always gave priority to a life shared with the most abandoned, rooted in an intense search for God. At the end of 1964, Brother Roger asked him to make visits to the United States which led to the creation, in 1965, of the first fraternity on the American continent, in Wisconsin. From 1966 to 1971, he was in charge of a fraternity where a few brothers of Taizé and some Franciscan friars lived in a very poor neighborhood of Chicago. Then he spent a year with other brothers in Atlanta.

In 1972, Brother Frank changed continents. He was sent to Asia and made visits in India, where he established especially the first relations Taizé had with Mother Teresa. He then visited Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. In late 1974, a fraternity in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world, began, in the city of Chittagong. From there, in 1978, he moved to Japan where, with other brothers, he began a fraternity in the marginal district of Miyadera in Tokyo. At the end of 1979, he helped begin a fraternity in Seoul, Korea, then he left for Calcutta in 1981, and returned permanently to Bangladesh in 1987. The brothers then went to live in the town of Mymensingh.

One day, Brother Frank described these long years of life shared with the poor of Bangladesh with these lines:

We find that those who are rejected by society because of their weakness and their apparent uselessness are a presence of God. If we welcome them, they gradually lead us out of a world of hyper-competition to a world of communion of hearts. As a gesture of communion with believers of Islam or with other believers, we make pilgrimages together with the disabled. This opens up our hearts. When we serve together the poor and the weak, they are the ones who bring us together; it is not we, the strong, who do this, but it is they who invite us to be together, with them.

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March 2013

Brother Alois in Canterbury

Brother Alois was in Canterbury on 21st March for the enthronement of the new Archbishop, Justin Welby. The next day he had the opportunity to greet him personally.

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Archbishop Justin Welby and brother Alois, 22 March 2013
©Picture Partnership/Lambeth Palace

During his sermon the Archbishop said that the church continues to have the power to transform society. Preaching to 2,000 people inside the cathedral and millions more watching and listening around the world, he spoke about how fear imprisons us and stops us from being fully human. Drawing on the story of Christ beckoning the disciples to walk on stormy waters, he recalled Jesus’ words: "Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid."

Archbishop Justin said that "our response to these words sets the pattern of our lives, for the church, for the whole of society."

Pope Francis, hope for renewal in the Church

Brother Alois, Prior of Taizé, writes

In Rome, in St. Peter’s Square, in the middle of the huge crowd of Romans and pilgrims from many countries, I was very happy about the first words of Pope Francis. We were expecting something new from this election and it happened. The origin of this first pope, come "from the ends of the earth," expresses the universal dimension of the Church. The name he chose evokes the joy and love of the poor that inspired Francis of Assisi and which, until now, have been at the heart of his life in Argentina.
He draws from the faith of Latin American Christians his vision of the relationship between the people and their bishop. "Let us set out on this road: the bishop and his people," "a path of brotherhood, love, and trust between us," he said, emphasizing his mission as Bishop of Rome. Those who were present in the square were visibly impressed that the new pope, before blessing them, asked for their prayers, bowing down and maintaining a long silence.
By asking to pray for his predecessor, Benedict XVI, he brought together continuity and the promise of something new. With the whole crowd present to greet and welcome him, I was touched that he widened our attention to a worldwide dimension by saying: "Let us pray for the whole world so that a great brotherhood may arise."
March 13, 2013

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With Pope Francis