Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Brother Roger: Visionary Mystic

Today I discovered the existence of Taize, an ecumenical community of Brothers in Taize, France.

Founded by Roger Louis Schutz-Marsauche, known for decades as Brother Roger, Taize has been dedicated to peace and reconciliation since its founding in 1941 during the atrocities of World War II.

Brother Roger taught that inner silence is a prerequisite for prayer and the resolution of inner conflicts.

In our world of tension and anxiety, in which we are besieged by the presence of inner and outer conflicts, he taught all who came to him to strive after inner silence in order to hear God. He spoke about how each person has God inside him and God will lead the sincere petitioner toward love.

His philosophy is contained in this quote from an essay by Patrick J. Burke:

"Keep inner silence always, and you will dwell in Christ," for that inner silence "makes possible our conversation with God."

Admired and befriended by Popes and people world wide, Brother Roger was loved and visited by thousands. Peace pilgrims packed his services daily to hear prayer and intercession for peace and the resolution of conflict.

I write to you today of the 90-year-old Brother Roger because I was not aware of him and you may not be either.

However, I write in the past tense because he has been murdered.

This is a great loss for the peace community of the world.

But it is no accident.

Brother Roger was intimately connected with God. When we are intimately connected with God and listening, we are kept safe unless there is a higher purpose for our death.

Brother Roger's death has such a higher purpose.

By being killed, his community has been catapulted into the news. Many, such as myself, will now hear about his work, his approach to conflict resolution and how he made a difference.

And this is crucial.

It is crucial that we hear more about efforts to dissolve conflict and create peace, for the world is in desperate need of it as, ironically, his death clearly shows.

It is one thing to expect to have your throat slit when you are in Baghdad.

It is another thing, entirely, to be subject to the danger of having your throat slit when you are beloved by all and in the midst of worshippers during a prayer service in what would, otherwise, be an idyllic setting in France.

The point is this: we are approaching critical mass in raising awareness for the need for peace.

We are approaching critical mass in the number of people who realize peace is not accomplished by doing something out there, but by resolving conflicts in here, in the human heart.

We are approaching critical mass in the number of people who realize that establishing peace can only be done one person at a time, one inner transformation at a time and who are working to transform themselves.

When that critical mass is reached, we will see dramatic changes with hostilities and outer conflicts resolving, for Macroscosm mirrors Microscosm.

Yet those aspects of human collective consciousness which are in opposition to peace are not going to give up control of our collective human psyche without acting out.

The aspect of murder, that exists within all of us, was acted out through a fearful and enraged - deranged - woman.

While some might use it as an argument against peace and an invalidation of Brother Roger's message, it is important to see its true purpose.

Brother Roger was ninety years old. He had accomplished what he came here to do. Instead of dying peacefully - and unnoticed - in his bed, his death has called attention to his work and shows us the urgency of redoubling our efforts.

Therefore, do not give in to hate or anger or regret.

When the innocent are killed, we are human, so we feel. So cry, yes. Grieve, yes.

But allow hate or fear to claim you?


Realize Brother Roger was a mystic.

He, like Christ, was killed so we would learn a lesson and remember: we have no time to waste. Innocent blood will continue to be spilled, in the most unlikely of places, until we commit to walking the talk of Christ.

Pray for Brother Roger. Send him silent thanks for his example and work.

Then honor that work by asking God to help you forgive all who murder, including the woman who killed him.

Affirm that you are the Hand of God working for Peace.

Affirm that all conflicts within you resolve and that more and more people, like you, are able to send out peace and love - no matter how unbearable the hurt - in order to create a new world in which those we love are not taken away senselessly.

Give thanks that humanity is changing and that Brother Roger's murder is evidence - no matter how strange it seems - of how effective we are being.

Above all, refuse to see this woman - or any other person who frightens or threatens - as an enemy.

Jesus urged us to dissolve the idea of "enemies." He said as recorded in Luke 6:35-37:

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Judge not, and you shall not be judged.

Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.

Forgive and you will be forgiven.

When we are able to do this in our minds, incidences of murder and war will begin to decrease and we will never again see someone so good as Brother Roger killed.

For would we care if the evil were killed? No. We would applaud the murder.

But all murder is wrong. Therefore the good and the innocent are murdered so that we make the decision to do something to heal it.

Let us, therefore, re-dedicate our lives to Christ and to peace today.


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