A Community Called Taize
Taizé--the word is strangely familiar to many throughout the contemporary church. Familiar, perhaps, because the chanted prayers of Taizé are well practiced in churches throughout the world. Strangely, however, because so little is known about Taizé--from its historic beginnings to how the word itself is pronounced.
The worship of the Taizé community, as it turns out, is best understood in the context of its greater mission. On the day Jason Brian Santos arrived in the Taizé community its leader was brutally murdered before his eyes. Instead of making Santos want to leave, the way the community handled this tragedy made him long to stay and learn more about this group of people who could respond to such evil with grace and love.
In this book he takes us on a tour of one of the world's first ecumenical monastic orders, from its monastic origins in the war-torn south of 1940s France to its emerging mission as a pilgrimage site and spiritual focal point for millions of young people throughout the world. In A Community Called Taizé you'll meet the brothers of the order and the countless visitors and volunteers who have taken upon themselves a modest mission: pronouncing peace and reconciliation to the church and the world.
"A Community Called Taizé is a jewel of a book, like Taizé itself--simple, reverent and surprisingly comprehensive. With effortless prose, Jason Santos makes us feel like we are there, taking part in the community?s monastic rhythms, singing the prayers, meeting the brothers (and some women too). Santos has thought of everything, from local customs to packing lists--but don't miss the last part of the book, which suggests what churches can learn from the community?s theology, practices and prayers. If you are visiting Taizé--or if you simply wonder why an ecumenical community of brothers attracts more than 100,000 young people every year without a single ice-breaker--you simply must read this book. It will set the standard for our understanding of Taizé for years to come."
"Jason Brian Santos has caught the essence of the Taizé community through his scholarly, perceptive and spiritual presentation. In an amazing style, this book provides a real taste of Taizé for the benefit of those who have not yet undertaken a pilgrimage there. Santos provides insightful, practical and powerful tools for everyone who would like to undertake a pilgrimage to Taizé. Through his own experiences and his scholarly articulation, he helps others serve themselves to the richness of Christian spirituality and spirit of ecumenism that permeate the world through the hills of Burgundy that nestle the community of Taizé."
"In A Community Called Taizé Jason Santos shares with us, in extensive detail and with personal involvement, his experience as a visitor to our hill in Burgundy. His hope--and ours as well--is that it may allow North Americans to see that, beyond the repetitive chanting and a particular style of meditative prayer, Taizé is an ecumenical monastic community that wishes, through worship and community life, to help young adults discover Jesus Christ as a source of reconciliation for divided Christians and as a promise of peace in the human family."
"Having been to Taizé several times, I know what a spellbinding place it is. I also know how extremely difficult it would be to capture the beauty and mystery of the place and its people with words on a page. That's why Jason Santos's achievement is so noteworthy. What he has done with A Community Called Taizé is to write both a primer on that wonderful community and a pilgrim's love story. I highly commend this book to those who've been to Taizé, those who wish to go and even those who've sung a Taizé chant in worship. All will be blessed by this book."
"Jason Brian Santos's introduction quite literally took my breath away. Wow! Santos's description of the rhythms, values, philosophy and theology of the Taizé community should be read by anyone longing to cultivate an authentic Christian community."
"A very helpful guide to Taizé for thoughtful seekers, especially young people. Animated by the warm and respectful spirit of a fellow traveler, this practical and appreciative introduction can serve as a very good starting point for someone who desires to learn more about the popular Taizé songs and place them in their context, or someone thinking of visiting this unique community."
"If a virtual reality tour can be conducted through words Jason Brian Santos has done it in this book, giving the reader a sense that she has now visited Taizé and is eager to go again--but this time in the flesh. Along the way, Jason helps us to understand why this movement of reconciliation has attracted thousands of young people all over the world and encourages us to learn from the brothers ways in which this same spirit can infect Christians from all branches of the splintered church."
"An excellent book . . . Highly recommended for public libraries and all religious studies collections."
"This Ph.D. candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary first landed at Taizé in 2005 on the very day its founder, Brother Roger Schultz, was murdered (at prayer) by a disturbed Romanian woman. Santos experienced the community's loving response to the tragedy."
"This book is a worthy introduction to one of the most interesting and edifying movements in the Christian world today."
"A wonderful example of a community that is living out the gospel in a unique way, with an understanding of God's provision and love beyond our western idea of PowerPoints and Sunday meet and greets."
"Chatty, practical, and animated by a winsome spirit, the book is aimed chiefly at young readers who might be dreaming about traveling to the Protestant monastic community in France. Santos combines personal narrative, theological reflection, and travel-guide details. The story he has to tell is definitely worth telling."
"This well-written history should be considered by anyone who may want to learn more about Taize."
"InterVarsity Press continues to stir deep and contemplative thought through their Formatio series of titles that have recently been released. In an age that is characterized by individual and commercialized faith, it is nice to know that there are books being written that operate at as call back to Christian community. Their willingness to highlight Taize in A Community Called Taize is particularly affecting and I was greatly edified by this read."
"A thorough and compelling book about this group that focuses on prayer, worship, reconciliation and evangelism in European countries, where Christianity is declining."
"Santos gives the history and development of Borther Roger's spiritual journey and vision for Taize, but he also shows how Taize has grown far beyond that original vision to become one of the truly unique spiritual centers of the world. A Community Called Taize is a much-needed and welcomed resource on this significant part of the body of Christ and what it has to teach us today."
"Lovely and instructive. . . . Besides Santos's careful research, readers will appreciate his thoughtful ideas about how to take Taizé's spirit beyond the community."
A Word from the Taizé Community
Foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
1. My Pilgrimage to Taizé
2. Welcome to Taizé
3. Exploring the Community
4. Brother Roger and the Formation of a Community
5. A New Era of Reconciliation
6. The Brothers of Taizé
7. Permanents, Sisters and les Jeunes
8. The Prayers of Taizé
9. The Heart of Taizé
10. Importing Taizé
Appendix A: Practical Issues and Getting to Taizé
Appendix B: The Life Commitment
Appendix C: Resources