John Docherty explains why thousands of young people are drawn each year to a unique community
Now the community is both ecumenical and international. The 80 or so brothers come from 20 different countries. Not all live at Taize. Some are in small fraternities among the poor in different countries.
Taize's vocation is to strive for communion among all, not only Christians split apart into different denominations, but all humanity.
Taize's impact on the young has been phenomenal. It was only after 20 years of the community's existence that young people between the ages of 18 and 30 began coming to the village in Burgundy in increasing numbers. Now thousands go each year, attracted by the worship, the prayer, the chanting of the songs and hymns, which is based to some extent on Orthodox practice, and the opportunities for silence and reflection.
They are also much attracted to the message of non-violence implicit in all that Brother Roger says and love associating with others of similar age and like mind.
Hazarding a guess at the political complexion of those who were at the Cologne meeting, one could say with confidence that many supported the European peace movement organisations like CND and the German Greens. But a fair number would not be of the Left, or hold strong political views one way or another.
During meetings at the Dome, Brother Roger enunciates the message of trust. He would like us to offer our homes and hearts to others. But there are hard questions: "At the present time when so many families break apart, will you, if you choose marriage, accept the challenge of persevering until your very last breath? Such faithfulness is a reflection of the faithfulness of Christ himself."
Roger's words impressed listeners by their directness and simplicity. Back at the parishes to which we had been assigned, we discussed their implications: how they affected us, and the possibilities for working together to help other people, for taking a greater part in our own liturgy back at home, for becoming involved in efforts to help the poor, or young people, and for being, as Roger would Put it, "bearers of reconciliation".
For more information, write to: Taizd Community, 71250, Cluny, France. Coaches run from London each Saturday to 8th September.