Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year in Taizé

La Tuilerie Website

 Taizé is deserted by the monks at then end of each year. Only the monks too old or infirm to travel and a skeleton staff of so called “permanents” (young volunteers who live all year round in Taizé) and one or two other monks remain. The week spanning the new year is the one week in the year that no one can stay in the Communauté. The services still go on, but are usually held in the tiny Romanesque church in the village itself, much as all the winter services used to be up until about 15 years ago. All of the rest of the monks will have gone off to the annual European Taizé meeting. This is all part of the “pilgrimage of trust on earth” initiated by Frère Roger over 30 years ago.

Frère Roger did not want to create a cult or a following around the community in Taizé and his idea of the “pilgrimage of trust” was for each person who visists Taizé to go home and live out what he or she has learned whilst in Taizé. Hopefully they will have an increased awareness of themselves and of others and they will have picked up many practical things they can do within their own environment. This learning is often reinforced by these young people coming together on a regular basis for so called Taizé prayer meetings, but then they go back to their local churches and to their own community and live out the “pilgrimage of trust”.

Brother Alois is quoted as saying  “Many people spread across the earth are taking part in the “pilgrimage of trust” in their daily lives. … Sometimes we have to go towards new horizons, far away or nearby, to discover the hope of the Gospel over and over again. Our world, where so much suffering wreaks havoc, needs women and men who radiate God’s peace by their lives. So let us make courageous decisions to go forward on the road of love and trust.”

Every year since 1978 for five days at the end of one year and start of the next, the European meeting takes place. This time thirty thousand young people arrived in Poznań, Poland on the 29th December. They are housed with host families and they have been attending morning services in one of the 150 host churches that is near to their accommodation. In the mornings, they take part in a program organised by that parish and then they travel to the exhibition centre housing the event in Poznań itself for the mid-day service, lunch, afternoon workshops on faith and social topics and then the evening meal and evening prayer, returning to their accommodation at the end of the day.

In mid-September the preparation centre was set up in Poznań, a lorry load of furniture, computers and other equipment necessary to set up this centre arrived.  Ten permanents and a handful of brothers of the Taizé Community and sisters of St. Andrew also arrived. They have been working with the local representatives to get this event off the ground. The shear logistics of accommodating, transporting and feeding such a large crowd is mind-blowing. One should not underestimate the amount of people involved. Mâcon, the capital of our département Saône-et-Loire, has just over 30,000 inhabitants, so this event will have housed, transported, fed and ministered to a crowd almost the size of the population of Mâcon. Quite incomprehensible.

I don’t know they do it, but the brothers are used to managing large crowds and getting things done. Even when away from home, their day is regulated by prayer and meditation and this sustains them over the three month marathon of organisation. It is through the giving and sharing required during the organisation of and the taking part in, one of these European meetings, that is the essence of Frère Roger’s initiative. To pull off an event like this, everyone has to agree to put aside any differences they may have and break down any barriers blocking their paths and in doing so they will enrich themselves and the others around them. That is the heart of the “pilgrimage of trust”.

The logo has been taken from the Taizé website. Copyright © Ateliers et Presses de Taizé, 71250 Taizé, France.

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