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The Congregation Leadership Team has spent the first week of August in the ecumenical community of Brothers at Taizé in France. Many will be familiar with the chants of Taizé and some may have had the opportunity to spend some time with the community at some stage.
The Taizé community was established by Brother Roger after 1940 and in its early years it was a centre for the care of refugees caught up in World War II. By 1949 the community had grown to seven. More information is available on the Taizé website here.
Today the community has grown to over one hundred brothers (read more here). Each year they receive thousands of young (and not so young) visitors who typically spend a week in Taizé, joining in the daily prayer and all the other experiences of living in a group of several thousand people (see here). Other people come for a more prolonged time and offer their energy as volunteers, animating the life of the larger group in collaboration with the community.
Each day is shaped by the gatherings for community prayer - in the morning, at midday and in the evening. The visitors gather around the Brothers for chanting and scripture reflection. During the course of the morning large groups are formed (teenagers and young adults divided by age-groups, adults together) and one of the Brothers gives a scripture reflection on the theme of the week, with the accompanied diversity of simultaneous translations. In the afternoons small language-groups reflect on what has been shared. Meanwhile there is ample opportunity for reflective time in the chapels and in the countryside around the village.
Since last year the focus of the community has been on what are called "new solidarities" through joy, simplicity and mercy. The focus this year is titled "The Courage of Mercy". This is a series of proposals from Brother Alois, inviting everyone to bear witness to God's compassion. (You can read the full text here).
Around a lake in the grounds of the community, where one might expect to find Stations of the Cross, is laid out "The Way of the Gospel". This is a series of 18 icons and reflections on gospel events. (You can read more about the way of the Gospel here).
Each week brings another diverse group of visitors and some of the chants are adapted so that many have the opportunity to sing something in their own language. This is a challenge for those of us used to the chants in English or Latin. A look through Youtube will provide you with a vast selection of Taize resources. In Soundcloud you can listen to the chants that were popular the week that the Leadership Team visited here).