Brother Roger Schultz (1905 - 2005) dedicated his life to an ecumenical ministry of reconciliation. As the founder and prior of the Taize community in France, he put it on the map as a popular place for Christians, especially youth. The songs sung there, known for their simple melodies and refrains, have traveled around the world and are used in churches on every continent. For many youth, Taize was a place of pilgrimage where they could get their bearings. This small community brought together brothers from different Christian denominations who all lived in simplicity and love.
Marcello Fidanzio, an Italian writer and friend of the Taize community, has assembled this fine anthology of writings by Brother Roger, the son of a Swiss pastor and a French mother. When he was a teenager, he fell ill with tuberculosis and was an invalid for several years. Looking back at this part of his life, Brother Roger wrote:
"I began to realize that a God of love and compassion cannot be the author of suffering. And I made this discovery as well: it is not prestigious gifts or great talents that enable us to be creators in God. A great inspiration can be born even in times of trial. My illness prepared the future; God's call was in a certain sense linked to a difficulty, even if I was not yet able to understand how."
In 1949, Brother Roger founded the Taize community in a small village in the Burgundy region of France. It was heralded by Pope John XXIII who was excited about its ministry of reconciliation. Other popes and religious dignitaries followed in his train. The writings in this paperback cover a time frame from 1941 until his death in 2005. Brother Roger emphasized the love of God as the core of living: "A life of communion with God opens us to seek reconciliation with others and to commit ourselves to alleviate the sufferings of the poorest."
Here is a sampler of Brother Roger's open-hearted Christian vision:
Dare to Rejoice
"Dare to rejoice in what God is accomplishing through you and around you. Then all forms of pessimism about yourself and others, which were waging war on your soul, will melt away."
A Healing of the Heart
"By forgiving us, God buries our past in the heart of Christ and brings relief to the secret wounds of our being.
"When we can express to God all that burdens our life and keeps us trapped beneath the weight of a judgment, then light is shed on the shadows within us. Knowing that we are listened to, understood, and forgiven by God is one of the sources of peace . . . and our heart begins to find healing."
I Live for God
"The Russian writer Tolstoy recounts that one day, while taking a walk, he met a peasant, and they had a conversation. The peasant said to Tolstoy, 'I live for God.' In four words he expressed the depths of his soul. And Tolstoy said to himself, 'I have so much knowledge and culture, and yet I am unable to speak like this peasant.' "
Open Your Eyes to Creation
"I repeated to a girl from Belgium who spoke of her deep unhappiness: anyone who looks only at themselves will inevitably sink into melancholy. Open your eyes to creation all around you, and the shadows already begin to disperse."
A Life of Beauty
"For whoever has learned to love, for whoever has learned to suffer, life is imbued with serene beauty."