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Published: 12/11/2004

Taize services are a time to worship, reflect quietly

BLADE RELIGION EDITOR

In the midst of the hectic holiday season, some Toledoans are taking time out for spiritual reflection and worship by taking part in quiet, reflective Taize services.

In a church illuminated by candles, with soft music emanating from piano and flute, worshippers chant prayers and sing choruses, called ostinatos.

Taize (pronounced teh-ZAY) services are held throughout the year, not just during the holidays, by numerous religious traditions, including Roman Catholic and many mainline Protestant churches.

At Sylvania United Church of Christ, between 10 and 20 people gather on the third Thursday of every month for the 45-minute Taize services.

Ann Lindsley of Toledo, one of the regular participants in Sylvania UCC's Taize services, said she discovered Taize about seven years ago and attended her first service at Notre Dame Academy.

"I just fell in love with it from the very beginning," she said.

The services are named for the small village of Taize in the southern region of Burgundy, France, where the movement was started by Brother Roger, a Reformed Church clergyman from Switzerland.

Brother Roger settled in Taize in 1940, when he was 25, and after spending two years in prayer and isolation, began sheltering refugees, particularly Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

He was aided by a growing number

of clergymen and townspeople, and before long a religious community began to blossom in Taize.

Its daily prayer services and music began to attract pilgrims from throughout Europe, and today Taize draws thousands of people from around the world to its thrice-daily services.

Ms. Lindsley, who teaches French at Maumee Valley Country Day School and Westside Montessori School, traveled to France in the summer of 1998, less than a year after attending her first Taize service in Toledo, and made a trip to Taize.

"The community was founded by Brother Roger to try to bring people together for reconciliation and peace," she said. "The themes of Taize are trust, simplicity, and joy."

Visitors to Taize are usually greeted by one of the religious community's brothers or sisters, who explain the concept of the services to newcomers.

The tiny French village was overflowing with young people who, in between services, sat in groups discussing the Bible and spirituality, Ms. Lindsley said.

"It is just a beautiful place," she said. "I was so impressed. When I went there the first time, we missed the noon prayer. So I decided I wanted to get back."

Ms. Lindsley made a second trip to Taize last summer, and "this time we did get to go to all the prayer services," she said. "It was in this huge, huge structure .●.●. with candles and icons. Then they just sing these chants, over and over again, just beautiful little prayer songs. Brother Roger actually was there. He walked in with his white robe. It was very exciting."

Organizers of the Taize services at Sylvania UCC hope to capture that same combination of peace, reverence, and spiritual excitement, she said.

"The whole idea, for me, is to sing these chants over and over again," Ms. Lindsley said. "You get away from the world, and you get into a meditative position."

After the chants, participants read prayers aloud and take time for silent prayer and reflection, striving for inner peace.

Taize services are held at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at Sylvania United Church of Christ, 7240 Erie St., Sylvania.

- David Yonke



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