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On Friday, August 19, 2005, at 6:30pm, St. James Cathedral hosted an ecumenical prayer service in memory of Brother Roger Schutz, founder of the ecumenical Taizé Community in France and one of the leading figures in the ecumenical movement to unite Christians of all denominations.  Brother Roger was senselessly murdered during prayer in the Church of Reconciliation in Taizé on Tuesday, August 16, 2005. 

Father Ryan remarked at the beginning of the service:

The news this past week of the sudden and violent death of Brother Roger, the founder of the Community of Taizé, came as a great shock, and a great sadness, to anyone who knew what Brother Roger stood for.

In August of 1940 when he settled in the tiny village of Taizé in the Burgundy region of France, the Second World War was raging and Jews were systematically being arrested and transported to death camps. Brother Roger offered many of them a hiding place, a safe and welcoming refuge. Little by little other brothers - both Protestant and Roman Catholic - joined him. Quietly, but resolutely and lovingly, they formed a community whose heart and soul would be, and still is, the living out of the Christian call to bring peace and reconciliation to a violent and divided world.

There is a terrible irony in the fact that Brother Roger met his death under violent circumstances but the irony fades considerably when we reflect on how Jesus met his death. Given all that he lived for, and all that the Community of Taizé stands for, I have no doubt that Brother Rogers' last thoughts were those of Jesus on the cross: Father, forgive.

And with that in mind, I would like to read a few of Brother Roger's own words about forgiveness and reconciliation.

     Are you ready to love only those who love you?  Anyone can do that, without needing the Gospel.  Jesus the Christ calls us to love even those who hurt us, and to pray for them.
     When we pray for them and nothing seems to happen, does that mean that our prayer is not being heard?  No, unanswered prayer does not exist.  When we entrust to God those who have clashed with us, something may indeed change within them, but our own heart is already on a road of peace.
     When you are hurt and humiliated, will you go on forgiving till your very last ounce of strength?  That is what loving to the end means.
     Can there be no miracles on earth?  Love which forgives is a miracle. (Seeking the Heart of God: Reflections on Prayer, 1991)

May the tragic and untimely death of this great apostle who devoted his whole life to promoting peace and understanding, and in a most particular way, to promoting unity among Christians, be the grain of wheat that, by dying, will bear fruit far beyond his dreams or ours.


The following prayer was read in many languages in the Church of Reconciliation in Taizé on August 17, 2005.

Christ of compassion,
you enable us to be in communion
with those who have gone before us,
and who can remain so close to us.
We confide into your hands
our Brother Roger.
He already contemplates the invisible.
In his footsteps, you are preparing us
to welcome a radiance of your brightness.


 

Photos by M. Laughlin, St. James Cathedral, Seattle.  All rights reserved.

 

 

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804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303