I. The Community of Taizé - A special place.
II. ‘Frère Roger’ - The founder of Taizé.
III. The course of life in Taizé - Weekly and daily visitors, longtime stay, life of the brothers.
IV. The Mission of Taizé - Taking Taizé to other countries.
Taizé - A Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth
As we have been talking so much about religion, I want to show you today an alternative approach to Christianity which became very interesting for young people from all over the world.
We have already discussed in class the influence of globalization on individual and societal problems as well as reforming of people’s cultural identity (like in China), new forms of living together in alternative communities (Hutterers, Amis) and the rise of different religious movements. Our pluralistic society is more and more confronted with problems due to various opinions and live-concepts. One considers a clash between cultures, especially western and eastern countries, as well as between the rich and the poor, because of inequal distribution of resources. But also inside countries the conflict potential became very high through immigration. Terrorism, fear, violence, emmigration problems, religious conflicts, misery. Are these expressions determining our daily life today?
Maybe not that drastically, but we can see that people are scrutinizing the meaning of life and its tradtitional values, like work and family as fulfillment. Is it worth having a family? Is it worth working just for money? Especially young people sometimes feel lost in our society which has lost much of its norms and values for a satisfying life, but at the same time increased the number of possibilities which can lead us to a satisfying lifestyle. But which way to choose? Which products to buy? Are we defining ourselfes just through the things we have instead of the kind of person we are? Is it possible to find answers to questions of young people and to encourage them to do, what they really want to do?
That’s why I want to present you today the community of Taizé. The ecumenical community of Taizé in France gives young people of any cultural attitude and religious belief to experience themselves and others by praying (which means singing and meditation) common working for the community and discussing subjects of interest. Living religion through its simplicity is the aim of the group of male believers, called “brothers” who dedicated their life in order to extend and transmit religious values like trust, friendship and love, especially to the younger generation.
Firstly I wasn’t sure whether it would be a good idea to talk about this subject, because I consider it very personal, but I decided that it is also a chance to present you the idea of Taizé. Anyway, I have to say, that everybody experiences Taizé from a very individual point of view. Consequently I can only speak of my own experiences, I’ve had in Taizé. Though I found out, that after having returned from this place everybody has had the quite similiar feelings and experiences
During my presentation, I want to start up with the view from above on Taizé which is situated in the heart of France. After that I will present you the founding-father of the community: ‘Frère Roger’ and his vision of a community based on love. In a third point I would like to demonstrate, what could attend you in the weekly program in Taizé. Last but not least, I am keen on presenting you how Taizé can be taken to countries from all over the word, for example through yearly meetings in different countries. This year it has been in Kroatia and India! I hope that we will have enough topics to discuss afterwards!
I. The Community of Taizé - A special place.
As I have already mentioned, Taizé is situated in Burgundy, that’s a region in the middle-east of France. The next “bigger” or more popular cities are Cluny and Dijon, the next aeorport is in Lyon (as you can see on the map.).
Though ‘Taizé’ is just a small village, it soon became a synonyme for the ‘Taizé community’ as about 2/3 of the town consits of a very big camping place, big tents, baracs where the people are hosted and specially the great church in the heart of this ‘Taizé camp’. Every year, thousands of young people and families from all over the world come to visit Taizé. In fact, being in Taizé does not mean to be in France, but in an “international village” where almost every language is spoken.
Going to Taizé is very easy, no matter where you come from. For example, from almost every European co]untry busses of “rainbow-tours” offer cheap tickets in order to take people to Taizé. Various groups regularly organize trips to Taizé, so that nobody is forced to travel on his own.
It’s important, that every young person in the world is given the possibility to make a trip to Taizé. Especially poorer children from less developped countries have the opportunity to ask for support, so that they are able to pay their flight to France. Moreover, to improve solidarity with less developped countries, prices are balanced in the way, that richer people pay more money for their stay. Though it is not very expensive, as Western nation we have to pay about 40-50 euros a week.
As there is a great diversity of young people of every nationality, culture and religion Taizé is a very special place. But how could such a success of gathering thousands of people from different countries become possible?
II. ‘Frère Roger’ (12 May 1915 - 16 August 2005) - The Founding of Taizé.
“Frère Roger” or “Brother Roger” as he has normally been called, was the founder and the first prior in the Taizé community. His death in summer 2005 was a tragedy. Just around world youth day in Cologne when thousands of young people have been celebrating Christianity, he has been killed dramatically during the evening prayer in Taizé. Nobody realized that a young woman (who was mentally disturbed) moved with a knife (which are normally non-existant in Taizé) to the front and struck it into the back of brother Roger. He was brought to the Taizé hospital immediately, but the blessure was too deep for this 90 year old man.
At the evening of his death, I’ve had my first Taizé prayer in a church in Cologne and just in that moment Taizé entered my life.
To return to the life of brother Roger: In 1940, when he was 25 years old, he left Switzerland where he was born, because of the war and went to France. He drove through the whole country by bicycle, just until he arrived at an uncertain place. This was Taizé, a small village situated on a hill. Even in the war time of great suffering and cruality, he has always kept in mind his idea of a community, where love reigned everything.
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