Chronicles of the V UnderTen Chapter: Arrivals and The First Day

Sunday 7th of July

Friars coming from diverse parts of the world arrived today.  With a spirit of joy and fraternal welcome, the friars began familiarizing themselves with Taize.  At 10 am, we gathered together with about a thousand young people to celebrate Sunday Mass. The day was primarily dedicated to informal meetings among friars, walks in the beautiful woods that surround where we are staying, and personal prayer.  In a spirit of gratitude to the Lord, we prepare ourselves for tomorrow, when we will officially begin the V UnderTen Chapter “Friars in Dialogue.”

Monday 8th of July

The first full day of our Under Ten Chapter began with Mass.  Fr. Michael was the presider, and, being inspired by the first reading, he invited us to cultivate the same dream of a unity between heaven and earth, like Jacob.  After Mass, we joined the Taizé community in prayer, together with about 2000 young people who are here for the week.  The prayer in Taizé style united our voices in one great chorus, whereby we could taste the spirit of unity in the Church.

Afterwards, during the morning, we gathered with others to hear the biblical reflection of friar John of the Taizé community.  We will gather each morning in a similar manner for his biblical reflection.  The biblical theme for this year is hospitality, which accords well with the theme of our Chapter, namely dialogue.  Friar John focused on the biblical passage where Abraham welcomed the three mysterious guests at the woods of Mambre.

After the biblical reflection of the morning, midday prayer, and lunch, we gathered at 15 for the celebration of the opening of the Chapter.  Departing from the arch of the bell-tower, we processed to the Church, invoking the gift of the Spirit.  When we reached the inside of the Church, we continued the prayer with an admonition from the words of St. Francis: “Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, because up until now, we have done almost nothing!”  Fr. Alois, the prior of the Taizé Community, offered us warm words of welcome, reminding us of the long friendship between the Friars Minor and the Friars of Taizé, a relationship of more than fifty years.  After the prior, Br. Michel Laloux, the Provincial Minister of France-Belgium, offered a fraternal welcome.  Lastly, our Minister General, Br. Michael, exhorted that we be open to the Holy Spirit, the true Minister General of the Order, so as to deepen our experience of what it means to follow Jesus.  He reminded us of the theme of dialogue, as related to the 800th anniversary of St. Francis’ encounter with the Sultan.  He also asked us to reflect on several questions that we may be asking ourselves:  Why Taizé? Why these austere living conditions? Why are we experiencing this week with 2000 other people?  He encouraged us to trust in the action of the Spirit.  He concluded by citing the beginning of Admonition 27, to cultivate the virtues that characterize our vocation as friars minor.  Our prayer concluded by joyously praising the Lord and renewing together our vows, the pact of our personal covenant with God and also our brothers.

After some free time dedicated to informal conversations with other brothers, the day concluded with dinner, where, as with the other meals, it afforded us time for friendly conversation as we waited in line to be served (this takes some time since 2000 are fed!).  Having been served our meals, we shared our meal with brothers from every continent.

Our first day concluded by praising the Lord in evening prayer, a song of faith and hope in Him who loves us.

“And evening came and morning came…. the first day.”

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