Pope John Paul II said, “One passes through Taizé as one passes close to a spring of water” and this resonates with my experience, hence I have been involved in Taizé services in Newcastle for over 20 years.
Shortly after my introduction through a Brother from the village of Taizéin France who was visiting Sydney, there was an opportunity for me to spend time in Taizé itself.
It was late August, one of the last days before the European academic year was to begin. In that small village were 5,000 other worshippers – mostly young and mostly resolved to participate to the max.
The overwhelming experience was the absolute silence, no chatter, no cameras – just an absorbing, all-encompassing peace and stillness enveloping the entire community of worshippers; their singing, their harmonising, their prayer postures, their connectedness with the moment. It was a palpable synergy of trust, vulnerability and strength.
The atmosphere was heightened by candles and more candles, shimmering through the darkness surrounding the Christian symbol of redemption, the cross; this one styled on the San Damiano cross.
There were so many young people – the sort of crowd you might expect to see on a university campus anywhere in the world.
During my stay in Taizé, I had occasion to spend time with Br Roger. I shared my experiences of setting up the services in Newcastle. His response was very quiet and his voice was a whisper; I needed to listen carefully. He told me he could do nothing for me in a practical way from Taizé, but he could pray with me and he wanted to do so. He raised his arms over my head and holding open his palms he continued to pray gently, sincerely and powerfully.
I left that encounter reassured that everything would be fine because his prayer was for that very purpose. Twenty-three years have passed and that’s the way it’s been.
So what draws people to this kind of service? Some participants answered this question:
- Simplicity…time for your heart and mind to be open to the Lord……very spiritual…very peaceful.
- The attraction of linking into chants in various languages…brings with it a connectedness…non-passive…creates a quietening of the heart.
- Shared supper allows time to adjust to going back to our regular lives.
- Whether only a few are there…the same blessings are received…I accept with great gratitude that the services are still happening.
Now I extend an invitation to you to experience Taizéprayer.Until then, may we, through the way we live our lives, Da pacem cordium – Give peace to every heart.
Services are conducted at St Columban’s, Church St, Mayfield at 7.00pm on the second Sunday of every second month, beginning in February. Everyone is welcome. Musicians, come with your instruments! Please P 4967 2283 to learn more.