March 20, 2013

A Taize Kind of Day

On a recent visit to the very important pilgrimage center in Europe-- Taize, France, as a simple mind I was brought into direct experience with what it is that makes this monastery Taize tick, bringing more than 80,000 pilgrims each year. But after a week there, I can explain it no better than frere Paolo who has made Taize his life: the simple way, the way of Saint Ignatius Loyola is his way.

 Frere or Brother and monk of Taize, Paolo is quoted as explaining their lives at Taize:

The monastic commitment is to three things: to celibacy – to say as a life commitment that you are not going to have any one person in your life to whom you belong or who belongs to you. To simplicity – not having bank accounts, not always looking to acquire more things. To obedience – accepting the decisions made in community, not looking out for your own career, not living together for convenience: trying to take part in the same creation together, the same work, ministry, whatever you want to call it. 


Those three things, which are questions of sex, money and power, are the very things which human beings want to be able to control. And the thing is, that, if you live it well, and wholeheartedly, it quite often leads you into times when you feel very, very empty, lonely, at a loss. And you wait there, in the Prayer, in the silence, in the singing of the psalms, in these songs that go round and round, and you wait and you discover that it is actually there, when it is very empty, that the roots of your life arise again.

And the thing is that I actually think that this resonates with the experience of young people It is young people’s experience that life is empty and they want it to be filled, and they wonder where that fulfillment is going to come from, where they are going to discover the direction for their lives, and so I think there is something here in our life at Taize that resonates for them.

Some 'song-prayers' of Taize: Ubi Caritas, the words are a simple chant: 'ubi caritas, deus ibi est'; where there is charity, there is love, god is.
There are many others such as Stay with Me.... and the chant   Oh, You, You Are Everything  whose sound and images record the simple beauty of the monastery herself.

The voices you hear are not those of professional singers. They are the voices of the many, simple pilgrims who come each day to pray in chant at the worship center. Praying as one voice, chanted in many different languages, the prayers are often spontaneous and many linger an hour or more chanting after the monks have retired to their other tasks, in addition prayer.

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