As our first full week back in Chicago came to a close, we in the Formation Community started a new tradition for this year: Taizé prayer. This was certainly a new experience for me, and one that I was looking forward to participating in. I had heard about Taizé for the first time when I was at World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany in 2005. That was the fateful year that the founder of Taizé, Br. Roger Schutz, was stabbed to death while conducting an evening prayer service. Coincidentally, another current Maryknoll seminarian was in France and witnessed the event as it unfolded. Since then, however, the aura of Taizé continued to glow in the back of my mind, but the glow was beginning to fade, until it was lit anew by this evening’s service.
Seeing a beautiful church filled to the brim with people of all ages, colors and background certainly amazed my senses, especially since this was on a Friday evening. The altar was surrounded with candles and icons of Our Lord. The people sat in hushed, prayerful silence. It was peace. And then came the cacophony of music and voices. It was the complete opposite of a typical Sunday Mass here in Chicago. Instead of hearing only the muted voice of the cantor, the sacred space was filled to the brim with holy voices, a sound that would rival angelic choirs. It was truly an image of Heaven, and image of a Family gathered together in love. If you have never experienced Taizé, I would highly recommend finding a locale near you that offers it. I certainly intend on going back with my community every first Friday that I can. How blessed we in the Formation Community are to have not only our brothers in Maryknoll to lean on, but an entire community of prayer to fertilize a vibrant, living faith in the garden of our souls.
Sem. Jonathan Hill, M.M.