Jason Brian Santos, A Community Called Taizé; A Story of Prayer, Worship and Reconciliation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 203pp.
Jason Santos made his first trip to Taizé in 2005. Like the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who've trekked to Taizé for seventy years, he was deeply impacted by its call for reconciliation among divided Christians and peace to the whole human family. Unlike the other pilgrims, he received the blessing of the Taizé brothers to conduct interviews, research, and write a book about his experiences. The result is a simple, reliable and admittedly uncritical introduction to Taizé.
Santos begins by describing his first encounter with Taizé. His book offers readers what he calls a "simulated encounter." He then explains the founding of what became the Taizé community by Roger Louis Schutz-Marsauche (1915–2005) in 1940, its history to the present, its ethos and vision. Those like me who have never visited Taizé will especially enjoy his very practical description of the daily and weekly rhythm at Taizé, including the physical layout of its buildings and what a typical dorm room and meal are like. He even provides travel tips at the end of the book. Visitors participate in the three daily services of prayer and worship, characterized by Taizé's own chants and songs. Every visitor is given a work task like trash pickup, cleaning the bathrooms or meal preparation. Small group "Bible Introductions" fill out a typical day.
"Brother Roger" was a Swiss Reformed Protestant, and Taizé might be broadly described as Protestant ecumenical monastic order of about a hundred brothers from twenty-five nations. These brothers live at Taizé, but they also itinerate around the world with their message of ecumenical reconciliation and peace to the world. They follow their own written "rule." At the center of it all stands the Church of Reconciliation, dedicated in 1962, which holds 6,000 worshippers. Founded in 1940, by 1970 young people from 42 nations had made the pilgrimage to Taizé. Today about 100,000 pilgrims visit every year. Santos's simple book joins a larger literature about Taizé and shows why that pilgrimage is so compelling to so many.