Christ rises at Taize

Coady, Mary Frances

THE LAST WORD CHRIST RISES AT TAIZE Mary Frances Coady Whenever I think of Taize, I remember the long outdoor lines for meals, the sandy soil underfoot during the sprint from the...

...A bank of candles and flowers surrounds the icons at the front of the church...
...I don't want it to end...
...If someone hurts you, reply by doing good...
...Where do they go from here...
...Bus after bus drives up, lining the roadway that leads away from Taize...
...For me, the experience of Taize lingers...
...The first step is to abandon ourselves to Christ, to commend ourselves to Christ, day by day...
...They are here to love one another and learn how to spread that love, in small ways, throughout the world...
...Outside, there is much milling about as the young people hug their goodbyes and sling huge packs onto their backs...
...Soon after the war other men, Protestants and Catholics, joined him, and in 1949 they made a commitment to live together as celibate brothers in an ecumenical community...
...His message is aimed at those under thirty, but it hits the mark at any age...
...In the hills of Burgundy in eastern France, in a sprawling set of stone buildings and bunker-style huts, a group of peopleónumbering more than five thousand in the summerócelebrate the dying and rising of Jesus Christ in silence and song...
...The bells outside start to ring...
...The Taize community had its beginnings in 1940, when twenty-five-yearold Roger Schutz began helping wartime refugees...
...The week works its way up to the Friday-Saturday-Sunday triduum...
...The organ stops, a signal is given, all rise, and a single voice begins the chant, "Al-le-lu-ia...
...But it does, and the brothers file out and disappear into their quarters...
...They make their living by the work of their hands: pottery, printing, other handicrafts...
...Stay with me...watching and praying...
...Or will they cast off the great love-in and drift away...
...The rain came at night, and in the morning the shower-room floor was gritty with mud...
...Over and over it is sung, until the full weight of the world's longings is caught up in the rhythm of the chant...
...But it does, and Brother Roger speaks, in words that push us beyond the walls of this church...
...Tomorrow they will resume their round of work...
...I think of the silence and the singing, the quiet talk in church and the chattering in many languages on the meal line...
...There is no other path to the gospel, or to peace...
...Here and there the brothers stand and listen as people talk quietly to them...
...Brother Roger sits in the center section at the back, and the children again gather around him...
...She is the author of The Hidden Way (Darton, Longman & Todd, 1998...
...An organ plays softly...
...By the late 1950s people of all ages, but especially the young, were coming to Taize to pray...
...They spend time helping in the canteen, engaging in quiet conversation and scriptural reflection, or sitting in silence...
...But outside the sun shone...
...On Saturday evening we're given candles as we enter the dimly lit church...
...again, I don't want it to end...
...when we do, we know he is present in every situation...
...And I remember the singing: above all, the Latin chant Veni Sancte Spiritus ("Come Holy Spirit"), the basses sounding first, then the tenors, and then the women's voices...
...Commonweal 30 March 23,2001...
...the products are sold in the gift shop...
...They still do...
...Some approach an icon of the cross at the center of the church...
...Have they changed...
...There the famous Taize chants are sung, interspersed with Scripture readings and periods of silence...
...Brothers appear one at a time and kneel in two lines down the center aisle...
...How can we work for peace, he asks, when each of us is only one person and we know so little...
...More brothers arrive, first in twos, then in bunches, nearly eighty of them, all ages, a white-robed vision...
...They come by the busload and put up with camp-style accommodations and simple meals...
...After a reading and another chant, the children file down the aisles with lit tapers and begin lighting the tapers of the congregants...
...The night prayer grows quieter: Spiritus Jesu Christi is chanted almost in a whisper, until it gradually fades into silence...
...Write a letter to the people in Shanty town in Brazil, to children in Senegal, write to political prisoners...
...THE LAST WORD CHRIST RISES AT TAIZE Mary Frances Coady Whenever I think of Taize, I remember the long outdoor lines for meals, the sandy soil underfoot during the sprint from the bunk-bed dormitories to the shower-and-toilet cabin, and praying that the rain would stay away...
...On Friday evening, the chanting is somber and haunting: "Bleibet hier...
...Three times a day they converge on the long building that is the community's central focus, The Church of the Reconciliation...
...On Sunday morning a Roman Catholic Eucharist is celebrated, culminating in the full-throated Surrexit Christus...
...Then the whole assembly picks it up...
...Visitors make modest "donations" for accommodation and meals...
...Mary Frances Coady is a freelance writer based in Toronto...
...People linger...
...As flickers of light illuminate the whole great space, the choir begins to sing: Surrexit Christus, "Christ Is Risen...
...At some point the children chime in and finally a single soprano voice soars in counterpoint to the great roaring wave of harmony...
...Brother Roger invites the children to sit with him, and they bunch up around him, holding lit tapers...
...Will they carry with them the sense of community, the uplift of prayer, the gift of solidarity with the world...
...All join in and the chant goes on and on, with flute and trumpet now...

Vol. 128 • March 2001 • No. 6


 
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