Human beings only create by drawing on their poverty. I am well placed to assert that today: it is exactly thirty years ago that I discovered Taize.
When I was young, at a time when Europe was torn apart by so many conflicts, I kept on asking myself: Why all these confrontations? Why do so many people, even Christians, condemn one another out of hand? And I wondered: is there, on this earth, a way of reaching complete understanding of others? Then came a day – I can still remember the date, and I could describe the place: the subdued light of a late summer evening, darkness settling over the countryside — a day when I made a decision. I said to myself, if this way does exist, begin with yourself and resolve to understand every person fully. That day, I was certain the vow I had made was for life. It involved nothing less than returning again and again, my whole life long, to this irrevocable decision: seek to understand all, rather than to be understood.
This day, Patriarch Athenagoras enters the life of eternity. With him we lose a man of the same prophetic vein as John XXIII. He had no lack of trials in his final years… Nevertheless, he was always optimistic. “In the evening, when I retire to my room,” he told me once, “I close the door on all my cares, and I say: Tomorrow!”
One day St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross met for a meal. Grapes were brought in. “I’m not going to eat any,” said John of the Cross. “Too many people have none.” Teresa answered, “I, on the contrary, am going to eat them, to praise God for these grapes.” Their conversation mirrors one of the tensions of the contemporary Church.
Lent: forty days granted us in which we marvel at a love too great for words.
In the Gospel, to be oneself means searching deeply until the irreplaceable gift given to each one of us is revealed. Through that special gift, unlike anyone else’s, each person is brought to fulfillment in God.
A brother brings into my room a reproduction of one of the most ancient pictures in the catacombs: a man praying with both hands raised. This gesture comes down to us from the dawn of time, from humankind’s first beginnings. A symbol of expectant waiting. Looking at it, I tell myself: like every Christian, you are first and foremost a man who waits expectantly, and prayer is one of the clearest symbols of this.