Taizé in Zagreb: An Interview

This is Neil writing. I have yet to get a username on WordPress, which I firmly intend to do soon after I figure out how to use different fonts and colors with this format. I used to write my posts on Microsoft Word and then use the cut-and-paste function to transfer them to Blogger, a rather crude process that apparently doesn’t work entirely well here. Hopefully, my education doesn’t take too long, but it probably will. 

So, for now, I’d just like to post part of an interview – from the Taizé website – with the auxiliary bishop of Zagreb in Croatia, Vlado Košic. (Taizé’s European meeting this year will be in Zagreb.) I’ve taken the liberty of placing in bold some of the bishop’s comments that I found most interesting:

You yourself have taken part with young Croatians in some of these earlier European meetings. What impressions do you have?

The meetings have always been for me an immense spiritual refreshment, an experience of prayer and of communion in faith. It is truly an unforgettable experience to be able to pray and sing together with thousands of young people from every part of Europe and the whole world. Each time I have returned enriched, borne up by joy and new strength. I have seen how many young people share in this experience and that is why I have always urged young Croatians to go to Taizé or to a year’s-end meeting, since they need that kind of experience, they are an encouragement in faith and a motivation for new spiritual seeking. What I particularly appreciate is the way that, at Taizé, nothing is imposed; the prayers, the conversations, people’s behavior, the life-style in and around the Community are all marked by simplicity, modesty, a welcoming attitude.

Nowadays you often take part in the daily prayers held in the church of Saint Mary of Dolac. What do these prayers mean for you?

The brothers form a monastic community with a commitment to praying three times each day. In Taizé, the pilgrims take part in the prayers every morning, midday and evening; the same is the case during the annual European meetings and will be the case in Zagreb this year. But during several months before the meeting, brothers lead evening prayers each day, at 5pm Monday-Friday and at 1pm on Saturdays, in Saint Mary’s Church. I participate whenever I can, for I love this way of praying, singing a few verses of a psalm or some other prayer, in several languages, then with a short reading from the scriptures, usually from the Gospels, then praying in silence, before interceding for the needs of the world and the Church. More and more young people are coming to the prayers. The essence of any Christian prayer is a meeting with Jesus Christ, an encounter with God. Such an encounter may take many forms, for it is something mysterious. God is mystery. We can only sense him, but his love is something we can touch, it is what he wants to give us. It is not a matter of nice feelings, but of a whole attitude, a conviction, a trust, a self-abandoning, I would say it is an oasis that all are in need of, especially people today, ever more stressed and pressed; an oasis where we can seek and find peace for the soul, and in that peace also find joy and a meaning in life, so much richer when lived in community. I think of the communion with God, but also of our communion with others, with other Christians, through which God reveals and gives himself.

This meeting will be ecumenical. How is the preparation going as far as our Catholic community is concerned? Is there collaboration with the other Christian churches in Zagreb and Croatia?

Yes, they will participate in their own way, with the other Christians of Zagreb and Croatia. Only we Catholics are the most numerous and therefore chiefly responsible regarding this meeting. It can help us better to understand the necessity of a communion and a collaboration with the other Christians—I think especially of Orthodox and Protestant Christians. We all live by Christ and the Gospel, and a quest for the unity of Christians ought to be one of the priorities of our faith. When you see with what love and faith other Christians unite themselves with Christ, that makes you want to become a better Catholic. To be ‘catholic’ means being open to all, since the Church is ‘katholikê’ and that means ‘universal, global.’ Jesus did not come just for a few, for this or that group of people, but for all, for every human person. Meetings such as this can help widen horizons by direct experience. It is especially important for young Christians for they are confronted today with many challenges. The ecumenical dimension is essential to our Catholic identity. It opens us to others, to those who are different but who believe in the same Lord Jesus Christ. How to be, not exclusive but on the contrary open to all, how to show love of neighbor in acts, how to welcome differences, that is what this meeting can teach us. Just imagine two or three young people from Sweden, from Poland, Hungary, Germany or Montenegro arriving in your apartment. Being a good host is not just a matter of opening the door to the house or apartment, but also opening the door of one’s heart.

What more can be done at the level of ecumenism for the unity of Christians, considering the desire of Jesus “That all be one”?

Above all, we must pray that all may be one just as the Lord Jesus did. Next, we have to build up trust between Christians, and equally between all persons. The first millennium was, despite many conflicts and tensions, the time of the unity of the Church, whereas the second millennium brought about many divisions and separations between Christians. I believe that the third millennium is the one when we should seek and recover the unity of Christians.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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