The first Roman Catholic joined Taizé in 1966. Br. Guilain, a Belgian physician, was sponsored by Cardinal Gabriel Marty, the archbishop of Paris. Since then, more and more Roman Catholics have joined. Today, fifty-five of the approximately one hundred monks are Catholic.
The new prior is Br. Alois Leser, a fifty-one-year-old German Catholic. The community will continue to pray for Christian unity and live according to the “Rule of Taizé,” which [Br. Roger] Schutz composed during a long retreat in the early 1950’s. The rule emphasizes the importance of living simply: “Throughout your day let work and rest be quickened by the word of God. Maintain interior silence in all things in order to dwell in Christ. Be filled by the spirit of the Beatitudes, joy, simplicity, mercy.”
Having visited Taizé many times since 1971, I had the privilege of knowing Br. Roger and the community rather well. The prayers he composed for each service were profound meditations on the Holy Spirit. In one of them he wrote, “Christ transfigures the ‘no’ that is in me day after day into [a] ‘yes.'” The truth of these words was apparent in the days following Br. Roger’s death: the other monks declined to condemn his killer, instead offering forgiveness. Their hearts were transformed by Christ. It is no wonder that the community of Taizé has been called un abîme de charité – an abyss of charity.
Even though Br. Roger Schutz is gone, his spirit lives in the community he founded. Death does not have the last word. Schutz will experience the joy of the risen Lord in the mystery of death and new life so appropriately sung in the hymns of Taizé: “Darkness is not darkness in your presence, O Lord/The night like the day is full of light.”
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