(by Jermer Cruz, CFC KFL Fulltime Pastoral Worker)
The Taizé Community is an ecumenical community in Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. Over 100,000 young people from around the world visit Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work.
Through our community and CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Youth, I was so blessed to be able to go to Taize with two other Filipinos (Fatima Frondozo from Diocese of Legazpi and Jun Cocamas from Diocese of Malaybalay) mainly to experience the community life that they have there. We stayed for almost 3 months, from November 2011 up to February 2012, my first time to experience winter and snow! Before I left, I really didn’t know what to do or where to go or with whom to live with. I was very clueless with a lot of things in terms of what life would be in Taize. I was a bit nervous and excited at the same time. It was an opportunity for me to completely put my trust to God and just be guided by His grace.
The question that I have right now in my mind is how will I share all my realizations and experiences to people? Allow me to share some of the learning and experiences that I had in my whole Taize journey.
1. Simplicity. We lived in a very simple life there. Led by the Taize brothers themselves, we adopted their lifestyle and lived as simple as possible. I found joy and contentment with everything that we have from the food that we eat, the things that we have in our common house, clothing, everything.
2. Countryside living. Taize is located in one of France’s province. Away from the city, it was definitely a new way of living for me. I was born and raised in Metro Manila so the hills and trees and forests stun me every morning I wake up.
3. Silence. I lived in a monastery type of community wherein meditation is part of their spirituality. At first, I thought it was going to be very hard for me. But it ended up I enjoyed it so much. God spoke to me in my silence as much as He did in every worship I made.
4. Home. They say that a place is only as good as the people in it. Taize became my home. I did not feel that neither I was an outcast nor left out. I never felt home sick because I felt I was home.
5. New brothers and sisters. I really had good times with my co-permanents (people who stay there for a certain time is called a permanent). I gained new friends and really built lasting friendship. I am confident that whenever and wherever I go, I have a place to stay because of my new brothers and sisters in Christ.
6. Eucharist. Even though Taize is an ecumenical community, they celebrate Roman Catholic mass every morning. And I took advantage of it! It’s my first activity of the day and first food also upon receiving the consecrated bread and wine.
7. Seekers of Faith. Christianity in Europe is almost dying. But seeing people there seeking Christ and knowing Christ, it amazes me so much. Most of them are Europeans, some are North Americans, and also a Filipino. And that’s me.
8. Solidarity. We all participate in some practical works to help the community. Some are logistical works, some in the kitchen, some church works, some in entertaining visitors, and a lot others. Though we come from different places with different cultures and ways, we all help out one another to make the work better, faster and more efficient. Team work indeed!
9. Conducting Taize prayer in Megeve. The brothers of Taize allowed me to go to a town named Megeve with other male permanents to conduct a Taize prayer. It was a like mission trip because we introduced the prayer and got along with the people, both young and young at heart, of that town! I will never forget that town because that is where I first experienced snow and French lunch.
10. Bible study. Brothers are conducting bible study twice a week especially for permanents. And I must say this is one of the things that I always look forward to.
11. Personal encounter with Christ. This has been the most personal meeting I had with my personal God. I knew myself more, and I have loved God even more. It is so hard for me to explain this part but I can say that this is the climax of my whole journey simply because of my encounter with Jesus.
It is so hard to put into words and summarize my whole journey in Taize, but allow me to end this way. In Taize, we pray three times a day, 30 minutes at least every prayer. And we pray through singing. But there is one song that could encapsulate, in a way, my whole experience. The title is “El Senyor” and the words are, “In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful, in the Lord I will rejoice. Look to God, do not be afraid. Lift up your voices the Lord is near; lift up your voices, the Lord is near.” In Tagalog, “ Sa Diyos magpapasalamat, sa Kanya’y magagalak. Masdan Siya at huwag mangamba. Siya’y kapiling, Siya’y Ama; Siya’y kapiling, Siya’y Ama.”
I am someone who will be forever thankful to God whose love is as wide and vast as from the East to West. I am someone who is confident of me because I am secured that I am loved by Him. And I am someone who is ready to share these wonderful and amazing stories about Him to a lot more people. Gloire a toi Seigneur, por toujours et a jamais. Glory to you oh Lord, forever and ever. Amen.