Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

My Photo
Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Passing of Bro Roger and the Vision of Taize

Bro Roger Schutz-Marsauche (1915-2005), the man who founded the Taize community in 1940 in France was killed during Vespers by a deranged man yesterday evening. As a Swiss Protestant, Bro Roger was invited by Pope Paul VI to be an observer at the Second Vatican Council. He also co-authored a book with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, placing him among the spiritual icons of our age. Taize's spirituality which utilises icons and chant, often in Latin, in an atmosphere of flickering candles is ecumenical and draws thousands of young people weekly. There is a sense of mystical peace in a Taize prayer meeting and it is shocking to reflect that Bro Roger was knifed to death in such an environment. The last noteworthy person I know to have been violently killed during Vespers was the saintly Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket!

Bro Roger's last notable appearence on the international stage was at the Funeral Mass of Pope John Paul the Great. Taize's spirituality and indeed, Bro Roger's own spiritual journey has long had Catholic leanings and it was noted by many that Cardinal Ratzinger gave Communion to Bro Roger at that highly-publicized Mass. This was taken by many to mean that, at least internally, Bro Roger had reconciled himself to the Catholic Church. This may well be true and indeed, he may have made positive steps to establish full communion with Rome, but given the ecumenical character of his community, it may have been inopportune to publicise this. Of course, that is pure conjecture on my part...

Many Christian communities and Catholic parishes hold Taize-inspired prayer sessions and my former seminary in England regularly used Taize chant at Benediction, Vespers and during the Mass. The ecumenical dimension of Taize is undeniable and ironically, its use of Latin has become a unifying feature. In Italy during WYD 2000, we could all sing the Taize 'Magnificat' but no one could sing the 'Veni Creator' together! This is evidence to me that Latin (in short phrases) is not a problem, nor is the melody (if it is simple). It is familiarity that matters in congregational singing and this is where parishes and youth groups can help by introducing Gregorian chant again and familiarising their congregations with it! It is also well known that Taize chant and spirituality, using icons, draws many young people. This wisdom flies in the face of the ideas of modenist liturgists that our churches should be stripped bare of iconography and that Liturgy should be bereft of reverence, silence and prayerfulness! Taize spirituality, if used properly in our churches, can re-vitalise parish worship by re-introducing elements lost in the liturgical reforms of the 1970s.

These are just a few initial (and perhaps superficial) thoughts. There is an excellent article by Bro Patrick Burke OP on 'The Spirituality of Taize' and I recommend it to you, because it examines the Taize phenomenon in a far deeper way than I can.

There is much we can learn from Taize and Bro Roger's vision and spirituality, and I mourn the passing of this man of God. May his work and vision live on in the Taize community and may God bless it with many years, to bear fruit for His glory and the holiness of His Church.


Post a Comment

<< Home