TAIZÉ, France, AUG. 24, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address delivered Tuesday by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, at the funeral of Brother Roger Schutz, founder of the ecumenical Community of Taizé.
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Dear Brothers of the Taizé Community
Brothers and Sisters,
We are under the shock of the death of Brother Roger, one of the great spiritual leaders and also spiritual fathers of our time. But at the same time, our grief is being transformed into hope.
Surrender to God’s will and the humble gift of self had become in Brother Roger a source of inner peace, hope and even happiness. Who would have thought that this humble gift of self would one day end in such circumstances? And yet, even and especially at this time, we can repeat the words which Brother Roger loved to say: “You love us; your forgiveness and your presence bring to birth in us the brightness of praise.”
By the witness of his friends and his servants, God never ceases to lead his Church and to prepare a future for it. By his presence, his words and his example, Brother Roger caused love and hope to shine around him, far beyond the barriers and the divisions of this world. A man of communion, he nourished in his heart and in his prayer a deep desire for reconciliation and encounter. With the Brothers of the Taizé Community, he wanted to place a ferment of unity in the Church and in the world.
The first split that hurt Brother Roger concerned the division between Christians. From his youth he united himself to Christ’s prayer “that all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21). He wanted to live the faith of the undivided Church, without breaking with anybody, in a great brotherhood. He believed above all in the ecumenism of holiness, that holiness which changes the depths of the soul and which alone leads towards full communion. Yes, the springtime of ecumenism has flowered on the hill of Taizé, in this Church of Reconciliation, where members of different Christian traditions meet in respect and dialogue, in prayer and fraternal sharing, inspired by the presence and the example of Brother Roger.
The second split that hurt Brother Roger concerned the division between peoples and nations, between rich and poor countries. Every form of injustice or neglect made him very sad. He wanted some brothers of the community to go and live in several countries with the poorest of the poor, in small groups, as a simple sign of love and communion. This simple witness was very dear to him, like a prophecy in miniature of the Kingdom of God, like a seed of friendship and reconciliation in a world plagued by indifference. For Brother Roger, there was complete continuity between the love of God and the love of human beings, between prayer and commitment, between action and contemplation.
Brother Roger was a contemplative, a man of prayer, whom the Lord had called to the silence and solitude of the monastic life. And yet he wanted to open his monk’s heart and the Taizé Community to young people from all over the world, to their search and hope, to their joy and suffering, to their faith and life-journeys. Here are the final lines of his last book, published one month ago: “For my part, I would go to the ends of the earth, if I could, to tell again and again of my trust in the younger generations.” More than a guide or a spiritual master, Brother Roger was for many a kind of father, a reflection of the eternal Father and of the universality of his love.
We are not here together now in this church to tell the story of a life, but to praise and to pray to God. Grateful for all that the Church of Christ and humanity have received from the life of Brother Roger and from his witness, we entrust him today to the eternal love of God.
Lord, enable your servant to see “the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father” (Acts 7:55), that Jesus he loved and searched for so much throughout his entire lifetime. Enable him, in the Holy Spirit, to enter into the communion of saints and the perfect liturgy of heaven, that communion in God in which he desired to live, sing and pray each day. Enable him to contemplate the face of the eternal Father in all its beauty, that face in which every look of love finds its fulfillment and upon which shines endless life, and give us the grace to continue, according to his example and with hope, on the road of reconciliation, communion and peace, as an anticipation of your eternal Kingdom.
[Translation issued by the Taizé Community; adapted here]