The afternoon of the day last August that Brother Roger of Taizé was murdered by a distraught person, he was working on an address he intended to give in Milan at year’s end. Brother Alois, his successor, delivered his words, even though it was unfinished, releasing it to the world.

Most interestingly, the last word written down by the brother acting as his secretary was, “widen.” Widen what? It’s not completely clear, but from the context of the preceding words Brother Alois speculated that it seems that the founder of Taizé wanted his community – and all of us – to widen the circle of those who feel God’s love – to reach out – to reconcile.

But of course it isn’t just the community in France that needs this message. As the present Bishop for the Parishes of the Central Interior, Gordon Light, put it in his song, we all need to reach out and “draw the circle wide.”

It seems to me that this is what this diocese tries to do, and must continue to do. And we need to include in the circle not only people with whom we agree,  and with whom we feel comfortable, but also – with God’s help – to reconcile with those with whom we don’t.

There’s only space for a short portion of Brother Roger’s last message. The rest is available on the Taizé website ( Brother Alois and the Taizé community have had it translated into 57 languages. It is recommended.

Brother Roger (Photo courtesy of Taizé Community)
Brother Roger's Last Message 

“W orld peace is so urgent in order to alleviate suffering, and in particular so that the children of today and tomorrow do not live in distress and insecurity.

In his Gospel, in a dazzling intuition, Saint John expresses who God is in three words: “God is love.” If we can grasp only those three words, we shall go far, very far.

What captivates us in those words? The fact that they transmit this luminous conviction: God did not send Christ to earth to condemn anyone, but for every human being to know that he or she is loved and to be able to find a road to communion with God.

But why are some people gripped by the wonder of a love and know that they are loved, or even cherished? Why do others have the impression that they are neglected?

If only everyone could realize that God remains alongside us even in the fathomless depths of our loneliness. God says to each person, “You are precious in my sight, I treasure you and I love you.” Yes, all God can do is give his love; that sums up the whole of the Gospel...

In the small mountain village where I was born, near our home, a large poverty-stricken family lived. The mother had died. One of the children, slightly younger than I, often came to see us. He loved my mother as if she were his own. One day, he learned that they were going to leave the village and, for him, leaving was not easy at all. How can a child of five or six be consoled? It was as if he did not have the perspective needed in order to make sense of such a separation...In the heart of each person, Christ still whispers today, “I will never leave you all alone; I will send you the Holy Spirit. Even if you are in the depths of despair, I remain alongside you...

A Gospel joy can be restored to someone in extreme distress. God comes to shed light on the mystery of human suffering, going so far as to welcome us into an intimacy with himself. And then we find ourselves on a path of hope. God does not leave us all alone. He enables us to advance towards a communion, that communion of love which is the Church, at one and the same time so mysterious and so indispensable … The Christ of communion offers us this enormous gift of consolation.

To the extent that the Church is able to bring healing to our hearts by communicating forgiveness and compassion, it makes a fullness of communion with Christ more accessible. When the Church is intent on loving and understanding the mystery of every human being, when tirelessly it listens, comforts and heals, it becomes what it is at its most luminous: the crystal-clear reflection of a communion.

Seeking reconciliation and peace involves a struggle within oneself. It does not mean taking the line of least resistance. Nothing lasting is created when things are too easy. The spirit of communion is not gullible. It causes the heart to become more encompassing; it is profound kindness; it does not listen to suspicions.

To be bearers of communion, will each of us walk forward in our lives on the road of trust and of a constantly renewed kind-heartedness?

On this road there will be failures at times. Then we need to remember that the source of peace and communion is in God. Instead of becoming discouraged, we shall call down his Holy Spirit upon our weaknesses.

And, our whole life long, the Holy Spirit will enable us to set out again and again, going from one beginning to another towards a future of peace.

To the extent that our community creates possibilities in the human family to widen…”

Picture and text © Ateliers et Presses de Taizé, 71250 Taizé, France.