At Taizé, Brother Roger's Letter for 2004
"To the Wellsprings of Joy"
PARIS, DEC. 19, 2003 (Zenit) - Translated into 57 languages, this letter by Brother Roger of Taizé was made public during a young adult European meeting in Hamburg, Germany. It will be a starting-point for reflection throughout the year 2004 during the weekly meetings in Taizé and elsewhere.
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So many young people all across the earth carry within them a yearning for peace, for communion and for joy.
They are also mindful of the untold suffering of the innocent. They know all too well that poverty in the world is on the rise.1
It is not only the leaders of nations who build the world of tomorrow. The most obscure and humble people can play a part in bringing about a future of peace and trust.
However powerless we may seem to be, God enables us to bring reconciliation where there are oppositions and hope where there is anxiety. God calls us to make his compassion for human beings accessible by the way we live.2
If young people live lives focused on peace, a light will shine wherever they may be.3
I asked a young man one day what he felt was most essential to keep him going in life. His reply was: "Joy and kind-heartedness."
Worry and the fear of suffering can take away our joy.
When a joy drawn from the Gospel wells up in us, it brings with it a breath of new life. We are not the ones who create this joy; it is a gift from God. It is constantly renewed by the look of trust with which God regards our life.4
Kind-heartedness is not gullible; it requires us to be vigilant. It can lead us to take risks. It leaves no room for looking down on others.5 It makes us attentive to the very poorest, to those in distress, to the suffering of children. It lets us show, by the look on our face or by the tone of our voice, that every human being needs to be loved.6
Yes, God enables us to make our way forward with a spark of goodness in the depths of our soul, a spark which asks only to burst into flame.7 But how can we go to the wellsprings of kindness, of joy, and also to the wellsprings of trust? We find the way by surrendering ourselves to God.
As far back as we look in history, multitudes of believers have known that, through prayer, God brings a light, a life within.
Even before Christ, a believer prayed, "My soul longs for you in the night, Lord; my spirit within me is seeking you."8 The desire for communion with God has been set within the human heart since the dawn of time. The mystery of that communion touches what is most intimate in us, reaching down to the very depths of our being.
And so we can say to Christ, "To whom would we go but to you? You have the words that bring our soul back to life."9
Remaining before God in contemplative waiting is not something beyond our grasp. As we pray in this way, a veil covering the inexpressible realities of faith is lifted. And what lies beyond words leads to adoration. God is also present when fervor fades and when all perceptible resonance vanishes. We are never deprived of his compassion. It is not that God remains distant from us; we are the ones who at times are absent.
A contemplative gaze perceives signs of the Gospel in the simplest events. It discerns Christ's presence even in the most abandoned individual.10 It discovers in the universe the radiant beauties of creation.
Many people ask themselves, "What does God want of me?" When we read the Gospel, we understand. God asks us to be a reflection of his presence in every situation. God invites us to make life beautiful for those he entrusts to us.
Those who attempt to respond to a call from God for their entire lifetime can say this prayer:
Holy Spirit, though it may well be that no one is built to live out a yes for ever, you come to kindle in me a source of light. At those times when the yes and the no clash, you shed light on my hesitations and doubts. Holy Spirit, you give me the strength to consent to my own limits. If there is an element of frailty within me, may your presence come to transfigure it.
And then we are led to dare to say yes, a yes that will carry us a long way. A yes that is transparent trust. A yes that is the love in all our loving.
Christ is communion. He did not come to earth to start one more religion, but to offer to all a communion in him.11 His disciples are called to be a humble leaven of trust and peace within humanity. In that unique communion which is the Church, God offers us all we need in order to go to the wellsprings: the Gospel, the Eucharist, the peace of forgiveness. ... And Christ's holiness is no longer something unattainable; it is there, close at hand.
Four centuries after Christ, an African Christian named Augustine wrote, "Love, and say ...
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