07/03/2015, 00.00
ASIA
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2015, young people celebrate anniversaries of Taize and Brother Roger

by Frère Ghislain*
Over 100 years since birth, 10 years after his death and 75 years after the foundation of the experience of Taizé, Brother Roger's charism is still alive. Gestures of prayer and solidarity across Asia: Philippines, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam. In Calcutta, prayer around the tomb of Mother Teresa, who Frere Roger visited in 1976 and 1997. In Japan and throughout the continent an experience of the Church united "in God’s heart".

Taizé (AsiaNews) -This year of 2015, the Taizé Community is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founder, the 75th anniversary of his arrival in Taizé and the 10th anniversary of his death. These anniversaries are for the community a unique opportunity to think deeply about the legacy that Brother Roger left his brothers: how the Holy Spirit led him, what was the heart of his life and how to keep this alive today.

Looking back after ten years, we are even more aware of the tremendous perseverance, courage and determination of Brother Roger, who all his life believed that the impossible could become possible! Coming alone, at 25, to the hill of Taizé; having the idea of founding a community in France so deeply wounded by war; starting a life together with a few brothers; believing in reconciliation between Christian denominations; gradually inventing a liturgy that nourishes the spiritual searching of youth who come from across the world... So many fruitful intuitions which are still at the heart of our life today.

On the Taizé website, there is a world map showing the locations of prayers in various parts of  the world where young people are both praying and undertaking acts of solidarity, in the spirit of Brother Roger who never separated the search for God and human solidarity.

In recent weeks, young people who meet regularly have given thanks to God for this prayer that supports them in their lives, for example in Xavier Hall in Bangkok (Thailand), St Andrew’s Cathedral in Singapore, Saint Martin’s parish in Saigon (Vietnam), several churches in Hong Kong, the Anglican Cathedral in Seoul (Korea), and elsewhere.

In Calcutta, young people gathered at the mother house of the Missionaries of Charity around the tomb of Mother Teresa, recalling Brother Roger’s visits there in 1976 and 1997.

In the Philippines, the Youth Commission invited all the ecclesiastical provinces to have a prayer accompanied by an initiative of solidarity. In many places, the prayers were an opportunity to pray with young people of different denominations.

In Indonesia, prayer and acts of solidarity were held in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, and Tembagapura. Yoke, a STTJ student who helped prepare one of the events, wrote, “We want to put into practice our vocation and our faith as followers of Christ. In addition to prayer, we also organize an act of solidarity, namely to collect books for the groups of children and mothers animated by our campus ministry. May is the month of education and national resurrection. A perfect time to share and show the feeling for solidarity with our nation.”

In Japan too, many places held prayers around May 12, the 100th anniversary of Br. Roger's birth. At Ikebukuro Seikokai, there was a day of retreat. Kimiko writes: “After a short prayer, we watched the videos of Br. Roger, and then four people from different generations shared about how Br Roger affected their lives. They talked about their deep suffering, weakness and pains; somehow they opened the door in us. Interestingly, none of these four people knew Br. Roger directly, and yet they were very helpful for us to understand Br. Roger's message! A pastor talked about her sufferings and how she lived with Br. Roger prayers for each day. An old lady who had never been able to read about Br. Roger because of an eye disease talked about her experience. We watched the videos again after the talks, and I heard in the sharing groups that the messages spoke differently to many. Lunch was very simple, and in the small groups there was very deep sharing. A priest who is a musician composed a new song especially for Brother Roger’s birthday. The words are taken from Gregory of Nyssa: ‘Those who follow Christ go from one beginning to another.’ The whole retreat gave us renewed strength for a new beginning.”                                                                                                             

Thus children, young people and adults from different church traditions make experience the universality of the Church, of an individed Church, or as Brother Roger used to say: “In the heart of God, the Church is one; it cannot be divided.” (Letter 2005 “A future of peace”).

*Member of Taizé community

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