Monday, December 31, 2012

Pilgrims of trust and hope

Frère AloisThey are on their way to Rome, they are many thousands, and they bring hope. 

They sing and pray and walk. For decades they have engaged in building a more Christian and human world, through dialogue and respect. 

They are the young people, also joined by the adults and the families, who are nourished by the monastic community of Taizé. 

A community that took its shape in the heart of France thanks to the intuition of Brother Roger Schutz during the dark World War years, and that today continues its journey. 

The faith of the young and the need for unity, spirituality in the post-modern world, and the prophecy of forgiveness; these are the horizons of the young people who are preparing to celebrate the pilgrimage of trust on earth (December 28th - January 2nd) planned in Rome, with tens of thousand of young people who will meet Benedict XVI. 
To narrate and explain what inspires this inner search and commitment in favour of humanity, a great book by Brother Alois of Taizé has been published: Pilgrims of trust. The journey of communion followed by Taizé, published by the Editrice Missionaria Italiana, which describes "a beautiful experience of Christian friendship" as the Pope said on Sunday during the Angelus.
The book talks about the desire for spirituality, the need for listening, and the hunger for trust that young people, whom he met during his experience as a monk, testify at every latitude. 

In the new book, Brother Alois of Taizé, who has been the guide of the ecumenical community since the death of the founder Brother Roger (2005), addresses, on different levels which range from the historical perspective to the spiritual advice, the call for a more radical Christianity and for a fruitful dialogue between the faith and the contemporary world.
Silence, listening to the Word of God, common prayer, service to the poor, commitment toward reconciliation: these are the "pillars" of the spirituality of Taizé which are described in the book anchoring them to the Scriptures and to the undivided Christian tradition, which goes back to the great witnesses of the faith.
In the book, Alois also offers many practical ideas to those who are willing to practice an eloquent Christianity in our time. 

"Develop networks of mutual assistance; stimulate an economy of solidarity; welcome immigrants; understand  different cultures from within; awaken twinning between towns, villages, and parishes to help those in need; use  new technologies consciously to create support networks… ".
Based on the thinking of Brother Roger, who wanted Taizé as a place of prophecy for the unity of Christians, Alois (German by birth, French by language) recalls the unbreakable bond between Taizé and the Council. 

"What we experience in Taizé today would be unthinkable without the reality of the Council. More personally, if, as a Catholic 16-year-old boy, I could go to Taizé in 1970 and deepen my faith with Christians of different denominations, it was as a result of the Second Vatican Council".
Returning from the recent Synod on the New Evangelization, where he was as "special guest" of the Pope, Alois recalls the great intellectual friends of Taizé: the Orthodox theologian Olivier Clément, for whom "the insistence of Brother Roger on the love of God has marked the end of the period characterized by the fear of a God who punishes"; the protestant philosopher Paul Ricoeur, who already wrote about the community in 1947, a few years after its founding; the very close connection with several Popes: John XXIII who was, according to Brother Roger, "the founder of Taizé"; John Paul II, "on whose words delivered at Taizé (1986) we cannot cease to meditate"; and Pope Benedict XVI, who will pray with the young people and the community in Rome on the 29th of December.
Like Ratzinger, Brother Alois also sees the risk of an eclipse of the faith in our era. "Today the faith in God is very often questioned, especially in the western world. The simple thought that God exists seems to become more difficult". 

But in response to this situation, Christians have the task, emphasizes Brother Alois, to re-launch their testimony of life and hope. It is up to them to reaffirm that "every human being is sacred to God. Christ has opened his arms to gather all of humanity in God". Furthermore, the new generations are called to "assert that the life of fraternity introduced by Christ is a reality already possible today. We want to experience now what to human eyes does not seem possible, because we know that nothing is impossible for God".