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Taizé: Archbishop's message to young people preparing to visit the Taizé Community

Thursday 12th April 2012

A video message from the Archbishop of Canterbury for young people about to visit the Taizé Community in France. The Archbishop talks about his first pilgrimage there as a teenager - how easy it was to make friends, the silence during the community prayer ... and the adventure of putting up a tent. Over 40 years later, young people visiting Taizé today find their attention drawn to the same things.

Taizé is an ecumenical monastic order in Burgundy, France, founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schutz. Over 100,000 young people from around the world make pilgrimages to Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, and sharing. 

A transcript of the Archbishop's message follows. 

I first went to Taizé myself as a teenager, and my first memory of it, I'm afraid, is of putting up a tent in pouring rain. I really hope that won't be your experience – but it was not a bad introduction to new experiences, to new kinds of things happening.

Because my second experience was how very easy it was to make friends at Taizé. People simply came along, introduced themselves, and started talking. You had to get used to talking to people from very different backgrounds, to people who came from other countries and other cultures – understanding that actually they were as interested in you as you were in them, and as glad to be with you as you were with them. Part of the Taizé experience is just that – discovering new people, new cultures, new experiences, and finding out that the world is full of potential friends.

But the third experience, and in some ways the deepest memory, is of the silence in the church – in the main church at Taizé, the main community church; also in the little village church, the little historic church where sometimes the Eastern Orthodox liturgy is celebrated – deep silence with a glow of candles and people taking their time to get used to being with God. I think one of the toughest and one of the most exciting aspects of being at Taizé is learning to slow down, learning to let that glow surround you – the glow of words and pictures and candles; the glow in other people's faces. Learning to be quiet with God, learning to let God say to you what he wants to say to you. Learning that you don't have to be busy all the time to make an impression – it's all right to be where you are, to take your time with God.

I hope and pray that your experience of Taizé will be one that you'll remember all your lives, as I've remembered that first visit all my life. I hope it'll be a time for friends, for new experiences of God. A time to slow down. A time to be yourself. A time to bask in the glow of prayer and of love. 

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