Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter in Taizé

The Easter Sunday service in Taizé is absolutely the biggest of the year, the number of people in the church is overwhelming. On a very full summer’s Sunday morning, there can be 12,000 people in the church, but this Sunday there were significantly more than that. I sat as usual near the emergency exits, but as all the aisles were full of people and the exits were blocked with people and wheelchairs, I didn’t fancy anyone’s chances if something had happened. The brothers must have put in place some sort of emergency plan as the church was constantly being patrolled by Red Cross first aiders in uniform with bags of equipment and there were a number of ambulances waiting outside, thankfully I don’t think they were called into action.

With so many people, the usually slick system did start to show signs of strain, even though I was ¾ hour early for the service I had to queue up at the door to get in and a girl was handing out the reading and extra song sheets, but she forgot to give out the normal song books (or they had run out), she also forgot to give out candles, but I spotted those and took one myself. It might have been easier if she hadn’t been there at all, but she meant well I suppose. Being so early I didn’t have to walk around too long before I found a square inch on the floor that I could worm myself into and wait until things began.

The start of the service saw the Easter candle being lit up by the altar, then it was carried around the church by two monks with the children and some other monks following and lighting the candles of the congregation as they went. I find the lighting of candles a very powerful symbol even if it was a mite dangerous in these over squashed conditions. I don’t know if they have changed their candle supplier, if these were special Easter candles or if my memory is not what it used to be, but the candles burned for much more than the six and a half minutes I mentioned in my Saturday night blog – this needs further investigation I think (wearing a watch might help for one thing.. ) In any case I figured out how the candle went out, but I will keep that secret for a future blog!

After a number of songs (fortunately, having no song book, I knew them all) the services moved into the usual Sunday Eucharist ending with the distribution of the wine and bread and this was where the biggest breakdown in the system took place. No monks came to the front left section of the church which wasn’t noticed for quite some time, so whilst the much larger front right of the church had all been given communion, we had not even started and it was only when some of the older monks were returning from the back that they noticed our lack of communion and they dived in to our rescue. So the distribution of communion took four or five songs instead of the usual two, but hey no one was in a hurry anyway.

We were then greeted in French with “The Lord is Risen” and as we all replied “He is risen indeed” and the bells started to ring out. The monks then continued to read out “The Lord is Risen” in a multitude of languages and the replies came from all the corners of the church, sometimes just one or two voices, sometimes large groups. It was obvious that there was a very large Germans contingent, but what some of the smaller groups lacked in numbers, they made up for in volume!

I finally made it back just before 12 o’clock - nearly 3 hours after having left home, but it was a most enjoyable and uplifting morning.

La Tuilerie Website

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