Memoirs of a Taizé Permanent

Prayer works!

 

I have always dreamt of travelling to other countries. Being raised in a family which is not able to afford this privilege, I kept this dream locked up in my heart.

 

When I was new to the Youth Ministry, I was invited to attend a prayer. They explained that the prayer will have a lot of singing and a long period of silence. This intrigued me because I have always lived in a busy city and I got used to a vibrant, lively and energetic youth ministry. How could so many young people stay quiet for such a long time? What do you do during silence? Pray? Sleep?

 

After my first prayer in the way of Taizé, I got hooked to this way of praying. I had the chance to connect with God by singing the chants repeatedly and feeling God’s presence during the time of silence. Since then, I always came to Taizé prayers in the archdiocese. Little by little, I got to know more about the brothers and the community.

 

In May 2014, I was given the chance to apply for a slot to go to the Taizé Community in France. A few weeks later, I received the confirmation that I was qualified and was informed that I would leave later in the year.

 

In coming to Taizé during the winter months, I needed to prepare myself to spend Christmas and New Year thousands of miles away from home. I also had to adjust to the climate and the different cultures of the different people I had to live with. Thankfully, I was able to breeze through all of those challenges and focus on my mission in Taizé: to reflect, especially on the theme of the European meeting in Prague, of being “salt of the earth.”

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When you go to Taizé, you have to participate in the common life which includes praying three times a day and helping out with some practical things. During the latter, it allows you to get to know the people whom you share the common life with. I was also given the chance to meet a lot of young people who came to Taizé for a week or just a few days. I met believers (Catholics and Protestants), non-believers (those who do not believe in God or a God but have open minds) and seekers (those who are seeking their faith). Through them, I was able to share the joy of the Good News and the joy that radiates from every Filipino. This is, for me, one way of being “salt of the earth.”

 

“If salt loses its taste, it would be of no use.” When sharing, you must also have the capacity to receive. I also needed to nourish myself during those days. I received this nourishment during the silence, especially when I spent a whole week in silence. According to Brother James, “Silence is a time to be alone, to know that you’re not”. During the whole week, we had daily Bible reflections in the mornings and plenty of time to take long walks around nearby villages in the afternoons. I took this time to remain in God by opening my whole being to Him and most importantly to listen to His voice. It was also during these times that I truly understood the fruits of silence. As my contact brother explained, silence is a time to “rest in God”. It became a time for me to reflect on my day, the reading or the message of the icons that are found around the Church. It also somehow amazed me to see so many young people being silent together for eight to ten minutes, three times a day. During these times of being in silence, our relationship with God became even stronger.

 

One of the many gifts of Taizé is friendship. I have grown a love for the Icon of Friendship. It reminds me of the friendship that God extends to us; in return, it is a call for us to share this to others. Staying in a community for three months allows you to form strong friendships. This may mainly be because faith was one of the foundations of this friendship and God is at the center of this. These friends became our family in Taizé. It is hard for us Filipinos to be away from our families for a long time especially during the Christmas season. During these days, our friends in Taizé made us feel like we were home. I was also able to appreciate the sacrifices that overseas Filipino workers make for their families to have a better life.

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When the opportunity to come to Taizé happened, I have been active in the archdiocese for a few years and I was always busy that I did not even have the time to arrange some of my documents. But through constant prayers, with the intercession of St. John Paul II and St. Therese of Lisieux, I was able to work everything out. I just needed to turn to God and remain in Him.

 

“God, gather and turn my thoughts to you. With You there is light. You do not forget me. With You there is help and patience. I do not understand Your ways, but You know the way for me.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

JOHN KEVIN RAYMUNDO
Archdiocese of Jaro, Winter 2015