Book on Taizé life explains it all

By  Philip Marcoccia, The Catholic Register
  • March 1, 2009
{mosimage}A Community Called Taizé by Jason Brian Santos (InterVarsity Press, 203 pages, softcover, $16.99).

A Community Called Taizé teaches the reader the history of Taizé, an ecumenical community in the Burgundy region of France.

This well-written history, by Jason Brian Santos, begins by explaining the author’s arrival in Taizé in 2005 and how he adapts to the unfamiliar community. Taizé is a community of prayer, worship and reconciliation where Christians from all over the world are welcome to visit. Taizé prayers consist of music and worship sung in various languages, with lyrics inspired by the simple phrases from psalms and other Scripture.
Evening prayers are held in the church used by the Taizé community where everybody worships together and where Taizé followers would eventually witness the final moments of founder Brother Roger’s long-lived legacy, brought to an end by his 2005 public murder, after Santos arrived. Santos dwells on his darkest memories of this unfortunate event which ultimately inspired him to write this book.

With his clear explanation of the turning points in the community’s development, the reader will explore Taizé’s history, its people and its form of prayer. The book should be considered by anyone who may want to learn more about Taizé.

{sa 0830835253}People, young and old, who have been to Taizé often use the Taizé music and prayer for their own communities around the world. But the community’s beginnings were very different. Before Brother Roger bought property in Taizé in 1940, his main goal was to simply own a house in France, not knowing that Taizé would eventually become a sacred place of worship to thousands of people around the world today — nor that the form of Taizé prayer would be practised by people around the world. After purchasing a little house in Taizé, Brother Roger lived there for two years before he began using the house as a safe haven for war refugees (mainly Jews). He went from protecting war refugees against the Nazis to building a Christian community of prayer and gathering.

Today, the visitors (more than a thousand per month) are divided into groups by the Brothers of Taizé and are responsible for day-to-day operations of the community. Visitors come from all over the world and sometimes spend months — or years — at Taizé before they decide to leave.

From beginning to end, this book is very clear and easy to understand, making it simple to visualize the community and how it actually looks. As it is a simple, informative read, A Community Called Taizé is a book promising to deliver all the necessary information and history to the reader and is especially useful to those hoping to visit Taizé one day.

The book is also very interesting because it teaches about how the community manages to work together, and thus how it has been stable for many years.

Whether the reader is interested in visiting the community or not, this book reveals a lot about the true significance of Taizé. Throughout the book, Santos says that being in the village is much different from attending Taizé prayer sessions in other communities.

For people who find passion through Taizé prayer gatherings, Santos recommends going to the place itself and getting the full experience of Taizé prayer, worship and reconciliation.

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