Doubt often exists side-by-side with faith. Who can believe without sensing the limits of his or her own faith? And yet even just a little faith is enough for us to go forward. That conviction, often expressed by Brother Roger, provides the starting-point for the reflections in this article.
Short Writings from Taizé
Are we scandalized, or at least ill at ease, when we hear talk about the Cross and death, about blood and sacrifice to achieve justice and salvation? If these terms are to have any meaning for us today, they need to be situated within the overarching plan of our God to save and free us.
What characterizes the Christian faith? Religious practices, moral values, a particular spirituality? In attempting to answer this essential question, these pages help us to see what is really at stake when someone is attracted by Jesus the Christ and wonders what it means to follow him. “Christ did not come to start a new religion, but to offer to every human being a communion in God” (Brother Roger).
Many people today live in multicultural societies alongside people of other religions. Simple contacts or more personal friendships can cause questions to arise: How can we begin a dialogue? How can we live for Christ amidst those with different allegiances? How far can we go in sharing basic questions with other believers? To reflect more deeply on these topics, this article starts from the experience of the Taizé brothers who have been present for over thirty years in Bangladesh, a country with a large Muslim (...)
Starting from the knowledge that Jesus gives us of himself by which we also come to know his Father in heaven and his alter ego, the Holy spirit. Discovering God as an essential exchange where each of the Three is constantly received from the two others and is ceaselessly given back to them. Thinking of God as a communion of love that cannot be viewed from without, and so to love God with ever greater admiration and gratefulness. Through our faith and our love God invites us to enter into this exchange and into this communion which he is (...)
In our day, many people think they can or must live a Christian life with no explicit reference to the organized community of Christ’s disciples. “Christ without the Church” is their watchword. These pages wish to examine the validity of that affirmation. In what way is the Church necessary for the project of Jesus? Was it a historical mistake? Is it merely of relative importance, or is it essential for the content of our faith? If so, how can we make its importance more (...)
It is hard for us to imagine the degree to which the Eucharist for the early Christians was woven into the fabric of life. When they write about the Eucharist the central beliefs of Christianity come to life. For them, the Eucharist confirmed that the visible world is good and that our humanity and our personal stories are welcomed into God’s eternity. Moreover, from the very beginning, the Eucharist had a social dimension and inspired many initiatives aimed at helping the poor. This web of connections which the early Christians made (...)
Why should we read the Bible for ourselves? What are we looking for in that book that is so special? All who read the Bible feel that they cannot remain at a distance. If God reveals his own Heart in it, that is because God is seeking our heart. And the little we have understood becomes so evident and so urgent for us that from then on we bear it within ourselves and can do nothing else but put it into practice.
The cross of Christ, gallows of shame: failure of hope, proof of the powerlessness of good in this world… The cross of Christ, tree of life: victory of love, emblem of universal solidarity… Must we choose between these two views? Or can we accept both at the same time? In that case, how can we articulate the relationship between the two? By examining the biblical data, this booklet wishes to reject the twin pitfalls of glorified suffering and of escapism and to offer a balanced vision of the central and foundational mystery of the (...)
Two views of a life which, beyond its tragic end, continues to shine out in Church and world. Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, sees in Brother Roger the symbol of spiritual ecumenism: nourished by prayer and contemplation, he was led to accomplish an inner reconciliation without repudiating anyone. Brother Alois, who succeeded Brother Roger as prior of the community, shows how kindheartedness was in him a reflection of God’s love, and how he bore witness to that love particularly in (...)
Jesus’ baptism reveals him as the beloved Son of God. Immediately afterwards, during the trials in the wilderness, his identity is called into question: if he really were the Son of God, would he be hungry, would he fear death? A moral lesson has often been drawn from the story of the “temptations”. In fact, it is one of the most profound gospel texts about the mystery of Jesus: what does it mean for him to be God’s Son? In Jesus, what seems incompatible is united. There is a humanity of the Son of God. In this way a path is opened where we (...)
“Christ is risen!” That is the very heart of the Christian message. The stories of Easter tell us how those who were previously most deeply committed to following Jesus discover that he remains present beyond death and that he entrusts to them a huge, new responsibility. The following free echoes of a few of the witnesses of the Passion and Resurrection are an invitation to let that moment of history come into our own lives and shed its light there. “Folly to the human mind,” the Resurrection declares that God opens a path through our (...)
The coming together of Christians from different denominations currently seems almost to be at a standstill. Over the past fifty years, the position of Churches in relation to one another has changed: in spite of the lack of progress in the implementation of full mutual recognition, the awareness of a fundamental unity among all has become stronger. Is it possible to draw more inspiration from this unity which is already given and, with that as a starting-point, to look in a different way at all those who profess the same (...)
What are the differences between pleasure, happiness and joy? And what do they have in common? How should we value pleasure in comparison with joy? Is happiness necessarily self-centred? How can joy be not only a virtue, but also a living and deep feeling? Faith and joy, like the sap of a tree in the spring, rising up from the roots of the most elemental pleasures to its summit in the life of the spirit….
This reading of the Epistle to the Colossians starts by exploring the circumstances in which it may have been written before introducing us to the central theme of St Paul’s letter from prison, that of Christian maturity. The apostle sets out to confront everything that could cause his readers to doubt the fullness given to us in Christ. The Colossians, he explains, will be rooted and built up in Christ by living in a spirit of gratitude for the gift they have received. As they do so, they will be grounded in reality, instead of pursuing (...)
What are icons? What do they mean? Don’t they contradict the Bible’s prohibition of images? Can icons help me to pray? This booklet suggests answers to these questions, using as specific examples the icons in the Church of Reconciliation at Taizé.
“Make the unity of Christ’s Body your passionate concern”: this is the call addressed by Brother Roger to each of the brothers of the Taizé Community. How does the Community respond to this call? What does “Christ’s Body” mean? Why is reconciliation in the Body of Christ so important? These ae the questions Brother Alois looks at here. He explains the path followed by Brother Roger himself , and then describes how the Community continues on this way: how the brothers invite the young people who come to Taizé from so many countries to become (...)
1. Christianity is a Life 2. Christianity is life with others 3. Christianity changes our understanding of death
One day, a small child said to her grandmother: “I love Jesus, but I don’t like his father.” She went on to explain, “Because he was the one who drowned everyone.” She had just read the story of the flood in Sunday School. The story of the flood is troubling. God creates animals and human beings. Then he changes his mind and decides to destroy them. It is not only little girls who are afraid of such a God. But have we read the flood narrative carefully enough? If we forget our prejudices and read it afresh, the text has a number of surprises (...)
A disconcerting writing, incomprehensible for many, the last book of the Bible seems to be the antithesis of the Gospel of a loving God and a Messiah who is Prince of peace. And yet, those who take the time to go beyond appearances and to examine its message more closely are in for a surprise: the Book of Revelation shows itself to be surprisingly relevant for Christians of our day, tempted to lose hope in the midst of a powerful society with quite different priorities. This short writing wishes to contribute to the understanding of a text (...)
How to prepare oneself for inward prayer following a pathway which is already prayer? That is the topic of the first of these itineraries, which proposes one possible form. What God am I conscious of seeking and invoking? The second of these itineraries tackles this question in a meditation about God. What role can memory play in helping me get free of an inner distress? The third of these itineraries attempts to offer a reply. Each of these itineraries is deliberately brief, a kind of sketch without any claim to be (...)
At Christmas time, Christians celebrate the manifestation of God in the birth of Jesus. God chooses what seems most insignificant in order to come into the world, to awaken the best in us, and to bring us to life in the most intimate part of our being by releasing compassion and the gift of self. The texts of the Gospels show us a handful of believers of Israel around Mary and Joseph – Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, and the shepherds…. Listening to these voices from the beginning might help us to find the paradoxical ways through (...)
The fear of God: should this expression, so frequent in the Bible, be dreaded and banished? No, for if it is well understood, it reveals itself on the contrary as something precious: paradoxical and mysterious, it draws us with delicacy and depth into the secret of our relation with God.
If faith is a gift from God, why do we usually see it as the result of human effort? And where does this gift come from? Why do some people have it and others apparently not? This short writing attempts to answer these questions based on an investigation of the vocabulary of faith in the Bible. We discover that faith is first of all an attribute of God – God’s reliability, God’s faithfulness – that awakens in us a response of trust. It is both the unshakeable Rock and the act of building one’s house on that rock. And it is Jesus, the true and (...)