Translated into 58 languages (including 23 Asian and 7 African ones), this letter was written by Brother Roger for the eighteenth European meeting of young adults, held this year in Wroclaw, Poland. It will be reflected on during the INTERCONTINENTAL MEETINGS OF YOUNG ADULTS that will take place each week in Taiz&ecaute; throughout 1996, bringing together young people from the East and West of Europe as well as from other continents. This letter was partly inspired by a time spent by Brother Roger and several other brothers in SOUTH AFRICA in May 1995.

Choose to Love

Like an almond tree that blossoms at the first hint of spring, the deserts of the heart burst into flower when a breath of trusting wafts across them. 1

Borne forward by this breeze, 2 who would not wish to alleviate human suffering and trials?

Even when our feet stumble along a stony path, who would not wish to put these Gospel words into practice in their life: "Whatever you do for the least, the most destitute, you are doing for me, Christ"? 3

A century after Christ, a believer wrote: "Clothe yourself in cheerfulness... Cleanse your heart of harmful sadness and you will live for God." 4

Whoever lives for God chooses to love. Making such a choice one's own calls for unfailing vigilance.

A heart determined to love can radiate goodness without end. Its great concern is to relieve the torments of others nearby and far away.

Whoever lives for God glimpses this extraordinary reality: all of us are inhabited by a presence, that presence with which Christ comes to suffuse our lives. Before his resurrection he assured us of this: "I will send you the Holy Spirit, who will remain with you always." 5 Not just for a few fleeting moments, but for ever.

For us today, Christ Jesus is still what he was for his disciples when he lived on earth. 6 Christ becomes our life. 7 It is up to us to open our hearts to him just as they are.

And then one of the secrets of the Gospel is revealed: everything in our present and future existence depends upon the trust we place in Christ and in the Holy Spirit.

If an inner fog were to make us drift far away from the humble trust of faith, 8 Christ does not abandon us for all that. No one is excluded from his love... nor from his forgiveness, nor from his presence.

And if discouragement and even doubts arise within us, 9 Christ does not love us any the less. He is there, lighting up the way... And his call rings out ceaselessly: "Come, follow me!" 10

Following him with a steadfast heart does not mean lighting fireworks that flare up brightly and then go out just as quickly.

The trusting of faith requires clear-sightedness. How could we ever cast another person into confusion by exalting our own faith? If faith became a spiritual pretension it would lead us nowhere; it would ultimately extinguish the mystical longing of our soul.

Torments brought on by memories of a recent or distant past can hold back the gentle breeze of a trust. The Gospel suggests that we not look back, 11 that we not linger over our failures, over what has wounded the depths of our being.

Endless discussions with ourselves can clutter our being and keep peace of heart far away. When we are beset by conflicting impressions, in order to safeguard an inner joy, it can happen that we find the boldness to repeat to ourselves: "Do not let my darkness speak to me!"

Daring to pray, daring to sing to Christ until we are joyful and serene... 12 Not with just any kind of joy, but with that joy which comes straight from the wellsprings of the Gospel.

So often we do not know how to pray! 13 But "the Holy Spirit comes to help us in our weakness." 14 The Spirit inspires and sustains our prayer more than we realize, re-creating an inner unity when we are scattered or fragmented within. And we come to understand that there is no inner unity without peace of heart.

During his earthly life, Jesus prayed and his face was transfigured by light. 15 Imploring, he also prayed with tears. 16

In all of us God accomplishes miracles, a healing of the soul. With wonder, we respond in the spirit of praise. It is up to us, then, to leave a "harmful sadness" behind by casting worry, anguish and fear into the crucible of prayer. 17 And the Gospel's joy, the spirit of praise, will always require an inner decision on our part, one that is renewed at every moment.

In the presence of God's infinite compassion, our innermost being is seized and becomes able to glimpse a road that leads to the holiness of Christ. 18

To live as people who are reconciled ! Discovering a communion of love with Christ leads us not to remain isolated. 19

In that communion which is the Body of Christ, his Church, God will never impose impossible conditions on us. Where then would his love be? As soon as there is the simple desire for God, for Christ and for the Gospel, even if we do not understand very much, faith has already begun its work in us. 20

When the Church welcomes with great simplicity, 21 when it is concerned to love and understand the mystery of every human being, it becomes what it is at its most transparent, the light of a love. 22

Today, more than we realize, a great many young people aspire to a communion in God. 23 The lives of many of them are rooted in a clear trust in Christ. But a question remains: "Why are multitudes of young people in vast regions of the world still indifferent to the trust of faith and absent from worship in the churches?" 24

In all of us there arise these pressing questions: is it possible to let a single day go by without searching with all our soul for the reason why so many young people are absent? And in the face of this situation, attentive to simplicity, what can we undertake without a moment's delay, sustained by that communion of love which is the Body of Christ, his Church?

Are we sufficiently aware that it is our vocation to live as people who are reconciled? Today this is becoming an urgent necessity. It makes it possible for the Gospel to be lived out in its first freshness. 25 On the one hand, to live as people who are reconciled always gives renewed meaning to the communion between Christians. And on the other, Christians can be made more aware of the fact that, in secularized societies, reconciliation is just as vital as daily bread.

Whoever consents to such a vocation radiates the Gospel in peace of heart, not only among believers but towards non-believers as well. 26

In the face of the void left by the departure of so many Christians, the Holy Spirit causes a tiny flame to flare up. It is the wonder of a love. Such a love frees us from our fears. It alone draws us out, leading us far, as far as reconciliation.

This flame can be very faint at times, but faith sheds its light even in the dark corners of our being. And the fire of the Holy Spirit comes rushing in. This fire is mercy.

A ministry in the Church has no other aim than to try and open gates of mercy.

The human family will know a future of peaceful trust as long as there are men, women and children on earth who love, pray and dare to take risks by giving their lives for Christ and the Gospel. 27

But there are people whose failures and disappointments lead them to believe that it is not possible to change society. Their main concern is their own immediate future. And so this grave question arises: how can we go forward when our own future is blocked? 28

It is easy to understand that choosing to love means also paying attention to one of the trials of our day, unemployment. How, then, can we strive to create viable living conditions for the excluded and for the most destitute? 29

And if struggle and contemplation are both Gospel realities, are we not called to give our lives to alleviate human suffering ?

So when the life of a child is undermined by broken relationships, who will know how to remain alongside him or her with infinite discretion and kindness ? Who will help such children find their way through the anguish of abandonment, and the anxiety of not knowing that they are loved for what they are ?

If our steps were to become heavy and sluggish, would we still be able to discern the desert flower? It blossoms at sunrise, in the hours of constant new beginnings, when a gentle breeze of trusting enables us to go forward and to go a long way on the road of an inexhaustible goodness. 30

One of the ultimate meanings of our existence is to love life on earth and at the same time to long for a beyond, for a life that will never end. 31

In our societies, which are so complex at times, 32 the Gospel lets light shine through and it tells us, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be as well." 33

Where is our treasure ? It consists in clothing ourselves in joy and in peace of heart. And all around us, life will become beautiful.

Taizé Community, 71250 TAIZE, France
Tel: 0033 385503030 Fax: 0033 385503015
Email or