Chronicles of the V UnderTen Chapter: Second and Third Day

9 July 2019

Just like the day before, the Eucharist opened our day. The presider of today’s liturgy was the General Definitor for Africa, Fr Nicodème Kibuzehose. Speaking from the perspective of the miracle of the Gospel, he invited us to let ourselves be freed from the unclean spirit that makes us deaf and dumb towards our brothers.

In the morning, for our biblical reflection, friar John of the Taizé Community invited us to reflect on the parable of the prodigal son.  As he explained, the parable is, in truth, about the extraordinary reception of the father towards this prodigal child. The theme of this year’s reflection, which is hospitality, challenges us to discover in God the source of all welcome.  Following, time for personal reflection gave us the opportunity to enjoy a little of the magnificent landscape that surrounds us and to open our hearts in Franciscan praise for the beauty of creation.  This praise was furthered by the fact that the weather was beautiful, sunny but not too hot.

Today, we were kindly invited to share lunch with the brothers of the Taize Community. They welcomed all of us in a very fraternal way, regardless of our large number (their number is also great: they are about seventy here in Taizé, plus some others scattered around the world).  Having lunch together allowed us time for fraternal sharing with many of them; they were very interested in knowing our form of life, just as we were interested in learning more about theirs.  Like always, a meal is always a great space for a fraternal encounter.

In the afternoon, we met at  3:15 pm to listen to the reflection of Br. Cesare Vaiani, Secretary General for Formation and Studies.  The title was:  “The Model of Dialogue offered by Francis and the first Franciscan fraternity”.  He invited us to reflect on a dozen short texts of St. Francis.  Each participant was offered these texts in their own language to personally read (4 languages).  Br. Cesare commented how these texts describe some essential characteristics of the dialogue.  As he explained, our reflection on dialogue starts with St. Francis himself, who offers us not only a model of life, but also gives us spiritual reflections arising from his own spiritual experience.  After listening to his talk, the afternoon afforded time for meetings in small language groups; each group was made up of a dozen friars from different countries and continents, who know the same language for communication purposes.   Since yesterday, we started these fraternal meetings, allowing us to reconnect with already known friars as well new faces.  These meetings gave us the opportunity to share our different experiences.

The purpose of this Chapter, in fact, is not only for exploring the themes dealt with in the meetings, but also, perhaps above all, for allowing time for personal exchange between young friars from all over the world.   We indeed want to know each other better, to love each other better, and to feel part of a fraternity that goes beyond the borders of our own country!  Dinner brought us back to the routine of the queue to receive a meal shared by so many people.  Relying on Providence of God, which expresses itself concretely as the face of one of the young volunteers who puts the food on the plate ….. we hope that their ladles are full!  Evening prayer, with its powerful and sweet choral song, accompanied us into the night, whereby we could enjoy the rest after a busy but fraternal day. “And evening came and morning … second day!”

10 July 2019

The day opened with the concelebration of the Mass, presided in Spanish by the General Vicar of the Order, Br. Julio Cesar Bunader.  In the Gospel, we heard about the call of the twelve, which offers an interpretation of our own vocations and lives.

Morning prayer, together with the many young people who were praying with us in many languages, opened our hearts to the whole world and in particular to our fraternities and our countries of origin.

Following, we gathered, as every morning, to listen to the biblical reflection of Br. John.  The biblical passage of the day was from the third chapter of the Apocalypse of John, the letter to the Church of Laodicea.  In the letter, the Church is reproached for being lukewarm.  As the Lord says: “Behold, I am standing at the door and knocking.”  In light of the theme of hospitality, the theme for the week, we are invited to open our doors and be hosts in our own homes.

Lunch, like every day, is characterized by not only Franciscan sobriety, but also Franciscan joy.  We share this experience with many young brothers and sisters who infect us with their joy.

In the afternoon, we gathered to listen to the reflection of Br. Alois, the prior of Taizé.  He addressed our theme of dialogue by developing four points of reflection. First, he stressed the importance of prayer and praise above all.  By it, we remain connected with our source of faith, and, therefore, any commitment to dialogue begins here with prayer.  His second point focused on the importance of listening and accompaniment to those entrusted to us.  As he described, welcoming thousands of young people to Taizé teaches us the importance of being willing to listen.   He questioned whether the ministry of listening is sufficiently developed in the Church today.  His third point emphasized how dialogue is an ecumenical journey in search of unity. He described this dynamic in terms of the make up of the community of Taize, where the brothers come from different Christian denominations.  Quoting: “To love Christ, to love the Church, to love unity is one thing.”   He stressed the urgency of taking steps for the reconciliation of different Christian confessions, namely to respect differences without resorting to division.  Lastly, his final reflection focused on the challenge of dialogue with believers of other faiths.  As he described, Taize brothers have lived abroad for several years in predominantly Muslim countries, like Bangladesh and Senegal.  Their lives have consisted of simply sharing their lives without pursuing religious dialogue.  More recently, there have been more initiatives, particularly in terms of sharing prayer.  Given Jesus is our model, as noted in his interaction with the Canaanite woman (Mt 15,22ff), we are called to unreserved welcoming of the other.

The reflection in the small groups, in the second part of the afternoon, allowed us to deepen our reflection on this theme in light of the contribution and life experience of many brothers who live in different countries and cultures.  The richness of our international fraternity is fully manifested in these moments of exchange, where the word dialogue is developed and understood in so many different languages and perspectives.

After dinner, we gathered together for evening prayer, in praise to the Lord for the gift of this day and to offer our fraternal intercession for the needs of the world.

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


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