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English Letter from Taize 2010

English Letter from Taize 2010

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Published by Philip Benmore

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Published by: Philip Benmore on May 29, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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In EvEry humAn BEInG,A lonGInG
Beyond the broad cultural dierences that can createbarriers between the continents, all human beings ormone amily 
: our visit to China has strengthened this con-viction in us. Whatever our culture, our age or our history, we sharea longing, a thirst or lie in ullness.The Bible oten returns to that thirst. It sees it as amark engraved by God in us to draw us towards him.
  Will we allow that thirst to hollow us out, without want-ing to satisy it too quickly?
It can become a love burn-ing within us or the One who is always beyond what wecan grasp o Him.
The more we seek God, the more we can make this as-tonishing discovery: God is the one who seeks us rst. Inthe book o the prophet Hosea, God speaks to his peopleas a man to the woman he loves: “I am going to seduceher; I will lead her out into the wilderness and speak to
We are one human amily inhabiting the same planet; thatis why it is urgent to take responsibility all together orcreation and the environment.
“God, my God, I seek you at dawn; my soul is thirsting or you.My esh yearns or you, like a dry and parched land withoutwater” (Psalm 63:1). “My soul longs or you in the night; inthe depths o my being my spirit seeks you” (Isaiah 26:9).
We may be tempted to satisy our desires in a superfcial manner. Is not overconsumption, in particular, a way o notdealing with some questions that we are araid to thinkthrough to the end?
In the ourth century, St. Gregory Nazianzen sang o themystery o God: “You are the One beyond all; how can wecall you by another name? What hymn can we sing to you?No words are able to express you.... A universal longing, thegroaning o all, aspires to you.” And at the same time SaintAugustine wrote: “Through our longing, God increases desire.By this desire, he hollows out the soul. By hollowing it out,he enables it to desire.”
lETTEr 2010
lette Cia
On the eve of the European young adult meeting inPoznan, Poland (December 2009), and the Asian young adult meeting in Manila, Philippines (February 2010), we are grateful for having been invited by Christians of China. A few of us brothers spent threeweeks in their midst and were deeply moved by somany signs of hospitality. After the very different meetings that we had, it seems even more necessary to understand from within the situation of their Church and their great country, where 56 ethnic groupslive. At the entrance to the Catholic cathedral in Beijing, Christianstake turns throughout the day welcoming those who arrive. Anelderly woman told us, “After so many years when no expressionof faith was possible, we saw church doors open in the late 1970s.Today more and more non-Christians come to see us. We areunable to welcome them all as well as we would like to.”  A young man explained, “The Chinese soul has always believed in heaven, in a beyond. The past decades have not wiped out  precious traditional values, in particular the search for harmony and respect for elders. In recent years material life has fortu-nately improved, but at the same time many feel a spiritual void and are looking for meaning in life. More and more young peopleare turning to religion, especially in the large cities.” The Church in China is still small and often lives with poor resources. And yet what dynamic faith there is among Christians!We admire their perseverance and their faithfulness. It is clear to us that God is at work. We met believers who, in their humble situation, play an active role in building the future of their country. In Sichuan province, for example, after the great earth-quake of 2008, some went to help offer aid to the victims; they are still there and are deeply appreciated by the population.Several people told us about the suffering that their parents or  grandparents endured for the faith. Everyone we met was gratefulto know that believers in other places feel close to them. In alarge Protestant church, when we said that at Taizé young people from all continents pray every Friday for the Christians of China,everyone applauded spontaneously.The wounds of the divisions within the churches left by recent history is very painful. Convinced that the time has come to movebeyond them, there are Christians who at present are seeking reconciliation. It is important for this to begin in the hearts of believers. Turning to God together in common prayer could be away to show that unity is possible. In China more and more Christians are becoming sensitive to points of convergence between the Gospel and the legacy of ancient wisdom. All across Asia, there are those who seek to livethe Gospel in dialogue with cultures and different religions, and by paying particular attention to the poor. Could Christians onother continents let themselves be inspired to a greater extent by this approach? As a sign of friendship and gratitude to the Christians of China,in 2009 our Taizé Community had a million Bibles printed throughOperation Hope and circulated them in all parts of the country.
Letter fromTaizé
her heart.” Then he adds: “I will make you my wie or-ever... in tenderness and mercy.”
In Jesus, this desire o God or human beings becomesa fesh-and-blood reality.
Christ wanted to stay close tous orever and he paid the price or this: by his death ona cross, he went down to the lowest place, to the pointo becoming the innocent one persecuted or no reason.Now, risen rom the dead, he communicates the Holy Spirit to us, an invisible presence that draws us towardsthe ullness o God.
sorTInG ouT our dEsIrEs
The human heart overfows with an abundance o desiresand aspirations: we want so many dierent things, some-times even contradictory ones. But we also know that wecannot do or have everything. Far rom leading to sadresignation, this awareness can liberate us and help uslive in a more unimpeded way.
 Yes, it is important to sort out our desires. Not all arebad, and not all are good either. We must patiently learn which to give precedence to and which to set aside.Deciding which aspirations come rst, paying atten-tion to what is ound in our depths, is already a way o listening to God. God also speaks to us through our de-sires. It is up to us to discern his voice in the midst o somany inner voices.
AwAkEnInG In oursElvEsThE dEsIrE For God
 And we must let the deepest o all longings awaken in us:the desire or God!It is true that it is not easy to keep alive the spirit o  wonder and adoration, since our societies set such a highvalue on eciency and doing things as quickly as pos-sible. Yet during long silences where nothing seems tohappen the Holy Spirit is at work within us, without ourknowing how.Knowing how to wait... Being present, simply, with noulterior motive. Kneeling down, recognizing that Godis present. Opening our hands in a gesture o welcome.
Hosea 2:16,21.
One day, Jesus asked a woman beside a well: “Give me adrink”(John 4:7). The rest o the story shows that, in act, hewas thirsting to communicate the git o God. On the crosshe would say again, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28). Accordingto the context, is this thirst not the ultimate expression o Jesus’ desire to give lie and in this way to communicate thegit o God?
Is it not essential to learn to cope with the incomplete andunpredictable character o our lives? The most auentsocieties oten seek to hide this reality. The main concernthen becomes to hide one’s vulnerability, orgetting thatinner aws, suering and death are also part o lie.
“I bless the Lord who has counseled me, and even by night myheart instructs me” (Psalm 16:7).
Quieting down is already an expression o openness toGod.Gestures o worship and meditation have been part o  Asian cultures or centuries. Could Christians aectedby secularization nd an encouragement to renew theirprayer there? In liturgies and gatherings, inwardness canbe combined with a communal and estive dimension.
shArInG whAT wE hAvE
Letting ourselves be penetrated by the thirst or God doesnot detach us rom the concerns o the world around us.On the contrary, this thirst leads us to do all we can sothat others may enjoy the benets o creation and nd joy in living.
Sorting out our desires, accepting not to have every-thing, leads us not to monopolize wealth or ourselves.
  Already in the ourth century St. Ambrose said, “It is notyour property that you distribute to the poor; you aresimply giving back to them what is theirs.”Learning not to have everything preserves us romisolation. Material afuence is oten accompanied by aturning inwards, with a loss o real communication. It would not take much or things to be dierent.
Many initiatives o sharing are within our grasp: de-veloping support networks, ostering an economy o soli-darity, welcoming immigrants, travelling in order to un-derstand other cultures and other human situations rom within, promoting twinning between towns, villages orparishes, to help those who are in need, making gooduse o new technologies to create links o mutual assist-ance.... We must be careul not to let ourselves be over- whelmed by a pessimistic vision o the uture by ocusing
Faith is not just concerned with a religious domain. Nothingthat aects the quality o lie can leave us indierent.Scientifc research, artistic expression, political, trade-unionor social commitments can be a way o serving God. To studyor teach, manage a business with humanity, devote ourselvesto our amily, expand our riendships, all this can prepare thecoming o the Kingdom o God.
A reworking o the global economic and fnancial systemcannot come about without a change in the human heart:how can the oundations o a airer system be laid as long assome continue to want to accumulate wealth at the expenseo others?
When our community prepares young adult meetings in majorcities on dierent continents, as stages o the “pilgrimage o trust on earth”, we invite thousands o amilies to welcomeinto their homes one or more young people they do not knowand whose language they may not even speak. And we seethat it takes little to reveal the goodness present in thehuman heart.
on bad news. War is not inevitable.
Respector others is a priceless blessing to prepare peace.The borders o the richest countries must becomemore open. Greater justice on earth is possible.
 Analyses and calls or promoting justice andpeace abound. What is lacking is the motivationnecessary to persevere beyond good intentions.The Gospel calls us to simplicity. Choosingsimplicity opens our heart to sharing and to the joy that comes rom God.
dEEPEnInG TrusT In God
 While aith seems to be vanishing in many socie-ties, a spiritual longing is being reborn. We needto discover the right words, simple ones, to makeaccessible to others the aith that gives us lie.Many people cannot believe that God lovesthem personally. For some, too many trials makeit impossible to trust in God.
How then can we express more clearly that God takes seriously doubt and revolt against what is absurd?
Je-sus himsel shared the pain o those who suer,
Despite doubts and even ailures, the early twenty-frstcentury has been marked by a growing afrmation o international awareness and the search or a more intenseorganization o relations between peoples: mobilizationo public opinion, attempts to respond jointly to currentchallenges (climate, environment, health, economy)....Increased interdependence between nations can raise ears,awakening deensive reactions to shore up one’s identity. Butmight it not also become a guarantee o peace?
There are still nine million children under the age o fvewho die each year, and 29% o the children who survivein underdeveloped countries are victims o malnutrition.This is totally unacceptable. At the same time, it should beemphasized that, thanks to the Convention on the Rights o the Child, approved unanimously by the Assembly General o the United Nations in 1989, the way children are treatedhas been transormed: by a concerted international eort;mortality and malnutrition have decreased almost 30% in thelast twenty years.
This is not the case or all those who are undergoing greattrials. I think o a young man I sometimes meet in Taizé.He has an incurable illness that is getting worse. He suersterribly. Already many opportunities or a ulflling lie aredisappearing. And yet the look in his eyes and his wholeattitude remain surprisingly open. One day he said to me,“Now I know what it means to trust. Previously I did notneed to, but now I do.” And he added in a letter he wrote tome, “I must not let my illness occupy my whole attention.”Then I told mysel: i this young man could know how muchhis words keep me going and how he helps so many others byhis attitude. There is in him a kind o reection, very humblebut real, o the mystery o the Resurrection.
Among the books that make up the Bible and even amongthe sacred texts o other religions, there may be none thatexpress the revolt o a suering innocent man as vehementlyas the Book o Job. Job denounces the absurdity o a lie o suering, and he complains about a world where it wouldhave been better not to have been born. But even in theviolence o his revolt, he speaks to God. He does not get all his questions answered, but he fnds peace in an encounterwith God.
 crying out on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you orsaken me?”
Many children grow up without anyone evertelling them that God loves them. What youngpeople will walk alongside one or more o themon the path o aith?Upon entering adulthood, there are those wholose their association with the Christian com-munity. Oten it is not a conscious decision, buta chain o circumstances which relegates aith tothe bottom o the ladder o priorities. How canriends help each other to renew a relationship with the local community o believers?Sometimes a gap widens between knowl-edge in the domain o aith and that acquiredin other areas. A aith that remains on the levelo phrases learned during childhood will nd ithard to ace the questions o adulthood. We cannd happiness in deepening our understand-ing o the mystery o aith at every stage o ourlives.
rEnEwInG our CourAGE
God calls us to transorm the world, with greatambition but also deep humility.Older people can encourage the young. Theyounger generations are no less capable thantheir predecessors.This transormation has to begin with our-selves: we must allow the risen Christ to changeour hearts, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead usout into deep waters so we can head courageous-ly into the uture.Let us rejoice in the thirst God has placed inus! It gives renewed vitality to our whole lives.“Let whoever is thirsty come; let whoever desiresit receive the water o lie, ree o charge.
Mark 15:34.
Ways exist: Bible groups, short Bible readings or each day, atime o silent retreat, training in parishes, studies organizedin collaboration with theological aculties or other Churchinstitutions, courses on the internet...
Revelation 22:17.
my soul Is ThIrsTInG For God(PsAlm 63)

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