Thought this might make a great resource or reflection:
Week after week, the meetings continue on our hill. We brothers often ask ourselves: how is this possible? And we are particularly happy about the presence of young people who come from afar, from Asia, Africa, and America.
The communion that we can live is a gift from God that makes us understand something of the mystery of the Church.
My deepest desire is that experiencing this communion may allow hope to be born in us. Hope for the personal future of each individual, at a time when material problems give rise to anxiety. Hope for the Church, which is going through great changes. Hope for our societies, whose fragility and instability we feel more and more.
Often at evening prayer I repeat this prayer of blessing that Brother Roger left us: You bless us, Christ Jesus, you draw us out of solitude by enabling us to live in this mystery of communion that is your Church.
What is at the centre of this communion? What is the heart that gives life to the whole body? Different answers are possible. I want to mention one: the reconciliation that Christ has brought and offers us each day anew.
You may be aware that this church where we gather to pray three times a day is called the "Church of Reconciliation". It was inaugurated just 50 years ago, on August 6, 1962. In the old photos it looks very different than it does today. That is because Brother Roger and the first generation of brothers had the courage to change it to make it still more welcoming.
One of our greatest desires is that all who enter may feel welcomed by God and sense the presence of God in their lives.
When, in early 1970, this church became too small, Brother Roger suggested tearing down the façade, which was very beautiful—there was a splendid stained-glass window from top to bottom—in order to make the building larger by adding a circus-tent at Easter and in the summer. Later we built these very simple additions to welcome you all.
The "Church of Reconciliation": yes, three times a day we come here to seek reconciliation in God.
We all know the rifts between people close to us. We often feel powerless against the violence that causes multitudes across the earth to suffer. And we also experience moments of inner turmoil. So we want to bring to God our longing for reconciliation, healing and forgiveness.
"God is only forgiveness and kindness." Already several centuries before Christ, a psalm said this. And Jesus gave his life to inscribe this forgiveness in the history of humanity and, by the Holy Spirit, in the heart of every human being. In him we find healing for our oppositions and our divisions. And praise can ring out three times a day in this church.
Christ's reconciliation lights a fire in our lives, the joy of being forgiven. It makes us ambassadors of his reconciliation, women and men who stand firm amidst the divisions of humanity.
Perhaps, without many words, we shall be able to remain alongside those who suffer, creating links between people who are opposed, between citizens and immigrants, between generations, between the healthy and the ill....
There are situations where we fail to bring reconciliation. Then it is even more important not to despair. Christ calls us to persevere in the confidence that he can give meaning even to our failures.
Recalling the building of this church may suggest another question: Can a few of you, even just two or three, spend a year helping your parishes to make your church more beautiful and welcoming? Sensitivity to beauty is part of the vocation to follow Christ.
With very little you could transform the inside of your church. Could there be times when it is open in order to spend a few moments in silence; could there be people available to welcome and listen to those who come; could there be moments of simple prayer? Today, when daily life often goes forward at a dizzying pace, we need oases of peace.
In making such a commitment, do not look too much at the number of people it attracts. Undertake it first for yourself, for just a few, in the joy of discovering that it brings you closer to God. You know that Brother Roger and the first brothers lived here alone for years without many visitors.
Let us pray tonight for all who are thirsting for reconciliation, for those who, across the world, are experiencing the violence of armed conflict, especially in Syria. May justice be done to the innocent who suffer and may peace come to all.
And let us also pray with the young Africans from many different countries who are together at this very moment in Tlemcen, Algeria. Not only are they holding a week-long meeting in close communion with us, but they can also hear us tonight through the internet and they are singing with us.
[image hotlinked from Flickr user kevin dooley]