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In this podcast Brother David from the Taizé Community speaks about Brother Roger’s life and legacy…
The brothers come from about 30 countries across the world and the order has a strong devotion to peace and justice through prayer and meditation.
Celebration of the 70th anniversary of Taizé – Echoes
On August 20, 1940, as World War II was raging, Brother Roger arrived alone in the village of Taizé, with the idea of founding a community. He died on August 16, 2005, killed by the pathological act of a young woman during evening prayer.
Since he did not want there to be too much speech in churches, the Taizé Community marked the double anniversary – 70 years of its founding and five years of the founder’s death – primarily by holding a simple pilgrimage on the evening of Saturday, August 14.
With 5000 people on the hill, the brothers met at 7:30pm in a large meadow on the edge of the village and celebrated the first part of the evening prayer outdoors. There was singing, a biblical text read in several languages by young people from various continents, and a few moments of silence. A young Italian from Trent, who had been living in Taizé already for some time, then joined the community by receiving the white garment worn by the brothers.
Then all together, the brothers and the thousands of young people from seventy countries who had spent the week in Taizé, together with some children, went through the village on a pilgrimage. They passed the cemetery of the small Romanesque church where Brother Roger was buried and where, for this evening, was placed the Egyptian Coptic icon of friendship, which was dear to Brother Roger’s heart. Then all went towards the Church of Reconciliation, in which the second part of the prayer took place: the gospel of the resurrection was read and thousands of tapers which each person held in their hand were lit, to symbolize the hope of resurrection.
Brother Alois said then the following prayer, and these were the only words that were spoken:
God of love, we thank you for the given life of our brother Roger, who died five years ago and who arrived alone in this small village of Taizé seventy years ago.
He sought earnestly to live in your trust and to express your infinite kindness for every human being, whether a believer or a nonbeliever—you, the living God, who do not condemn, who exclude no one from your love.
In this trust, you enabled him to find the source of joy and peace: peace of heart that made him a creator of peace among humans.
Like John the Baptist, he only wanted to prepare the way of your Christ, to reunite your people and to tell everyone, “God is close to you.”
Turning to you, God of love, and being close to the poorest were inseparable for him. To relieve suffering, to welcome, to welcome young people in particular, to listen so as to understand all of others: that was the path you opened for him in order to follow Christ Jesus and to be attentive to the Holy Spirit.
Poor and vulnerable as he was himself, as he put it, he chose to love with all his strength.
He loved your Church that gathers believers in one communion beyond all boundaries— political, social or cultural. It was for him the sign of hope of a reconciled humanity.
We thank you for being able to remember him with the whole Church. The words of Pope Benedict go straight to our heart when he wrote, “May his witness to an ecumenism of holiness inspire us in our march towards unity.” The Patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lutheran and Reformed leaders, and many others, join us to express our gratitude.
Enable us all to continue with all our heart what Brother Roger began. Like him, we would like to live in friendship with Christ, putting into practice, without waiting, even just a single word of the Gospel.
In the communion of the whole Church throughout the world, and with those who went before us in faith, beginning with the apostles and Mary, we praise you and we sing:
“Jesus Christ, Inner Light, do not let my darkness speak to me. Jesus Christ, Inner Light, make me able to welcome your love.”
Booklet – Living for Love
To mark this double anniversary, a booklet has been published for young people, containing a few essential texts of Brother Roger: “Living for love.”
Brother Alois wrote in the preface:
“Here are some pages that reveal the life and thought of Brother Roger. (…) The legacy he left is alive. He had a conviction: God is united to every human being, even to those who are unaware of it. In this confidence in God’s presence, he found a peace he sought to communicate to others.”
Br. Roger, Living for Love. Selected Texts. Brother Roger of Taizé 1915-2005
Les Presses de Taizé, ISBN 9782850403101