The meeting a few days ago with Brother Alois, prior of Taizé, was an opportunity to discover once again how the health crisis, while provoking drama, can spark creativity and help us to reinvent ourselves.
The Taizé Community, which has just celebrated its 80th anniversary, today brings together around a hundred brothers (from nearly 30 nations). In the words of their founder, Brother Roger, they are determined to live in community with God who is "love, and love only". They "seek to understand and reconcile each other always: a community where kindness of heart and simplicity are at the centre of everything". (Brother Roger, God can only love, p. 40). For them, to find themselves in the essentials of common life is to work for ecumenism, not in a theoretical way, but by living reconciliation between different cultures and in mutual hospitality. We know how much their charisma appeals to adolescents and young adults; they usually come in their thousands to the hill of Taizé or gather every year in a large capital city.
What founds the life of the brothers together, spiritually and materially, are the bonds that keep them alive. In the midst of the pandemic, this is a challenge and a call. How can we respond to it when many countries are subject to measures of confinement and when the coming of young visitors to Taizé is made impossible?
To nourish this spiritual bond, Taizé offers every day the possibility of following the midday and evening prayers online, live, in audio or video.
But how can we continue to live materially? Traditionally, to earn a living, the brothers of the community produce pottery and enamels on copper, and publish books and music from Taizé. However, in these times of pandemic, there is no financial income from the reception or the shop that has closed their doors.
While this question was being asked in the midst of a period of confinement, in the spring of 2020, an intuition sprang up in the Taizé community and a new project was born: to produce biscuits, " les carrés de Taizé " (the Taizé squares). Thanks to the advice of several biscuit factories, brothers were formed and learned the different stages of biscuit making.
Local craftsmen provide the ingredients necessary for the whole biscuit-making chain, flour, honey, ... Until the making of the magnificent boxes shaped by a company from the neighbouring village. Thus, this production is in line with the ecological logic of short circuits.
This is how the " Carrés de Taizé " came into being. They are sold today at the corner market which has become a real meeting place for the brothers, and orders can also be placed online.
But beware! Anticipate your purchase to taste or to offer these little marvels! Because the demand is such that there may be a shortage of stock, ... and yet the brothers work without counting the cost.