The Simplicity of Taizé Prayer

by Jeffrey Lindholm

 

Imagine walking into a church. Electric lights illuminate the altar, people are talking quietly, and the congregation worships through a form of the Eucharistic Prayer. Is this the case in Taizé? Quite the opposite. The scene is a dark church, with candles as the only source of light. Students, adults, and clergy members surround an altar formed by lit candles and a San Damiano crucifix. Prayer is quite simple, with one- or two-line chants. Participation is optional; one can take in the beauty of Taizé or join in on the simple refrains.

The beginnings of Taizé date back to the World War II era, when a French brother settled in a town called Taizé in 1940. By 1949, the community had grown to seven men who pledged to live in celibacy. By 1953, the Rule of Taizé had been created, cementing the community. Today, the Taizé Community is made up of over one hundred brothers, Catholics and Protestants of various denominations, from almost thirty different nations. By its very existence, the community is a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples.

 

Going to Taizé prayer at Boston College is an opportunity for meditation. The simple prayers allow for reflection on school, faith, or deeper contemplation of one’s soul. One of the most powerful parts of Taizé is the petitions, which are answered with:

O Lord, hear my prayer,

O Lord, hear my prayer;

when I call answer me.

O Lord, hear my prayer,

O Lord, hear my prayer;

come and listen to me.

 

The petitions are a cry to the Lord to answer our prayers within our heart. We often do not think of prayer as “crying out to God,” but this simple, powerful prayer is just that. We lay ourselves down at the altar of the Lord and ask Him to listen to us. Taizé allows us to become connected with God in a reflective manner. Rather than relying on our mind and conscience to pray, Taizé uses easy chants that allow for meditation and reflection about our lives.

 

Though we may not expect a deep spiritual experience in a dark church on a Tuesday night, Taizé opens our hearts to the Lord, who desires each and every one of us. Join in Taizé at Saint Ignatius Church every other Tuesday at 8:30 pm throughout the school year, and on Mondays at 7:00 pm during the season of Advent.

 

“Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart’s desire” (Psalms 37:4).

 

Though I may not know my heart’s desire, Taizé allows me to delight in the Lord, who then leads my heart where it needs to be: with God.


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