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Taizé Prayer Adapts with the Times

September 3, 2020

In this time of uncertainty, as COVID-19 continues to spread and restrictions further distance people, one thing seems abundantly clear: A spiritual thirst is growing.

Enter Taizé prayer.

For more than 20 years, the Viatorian Community has welcomed the public to its Taizé Prayer service, traditionally held in the intimate setting of the Province Center chapel. Lit by only candles, the service enhances the experience to pray for peace and justice in the world, and especially for young people.

However, with restrictions in place, the popular service has not taken place since March. Now, Viatorians are adapting Taizé — by holding it outdoors.

“We haven’t gotten together in so long,” says Br. Michael Gosch, CSV, Assistant Provincial. “This will be an opportunity for people to pray with us, pray for each other — and pray for the needs of the world.”

The service will take place from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9 behind the white house on the Province Center grounds. The Viatorian Province Center is located at 1212 E. Euclid Ave. in Arlington Heights.

“We will be setting up chairs the required six-feet apart and are asking everyone who comes to wear a mask as required,” says Associate Karen Cutler, who coordinates Taize for the community. “We will be sure to sanitize any and all things people may come into contact with, including the chairs and candles.”

Karen asks that those interested in coming, RSVP so that she may have enough chairs set up. She expects to cap registration at 40. Email her at: KCutler@viatorians.com.

Young people at St. Viator in Las Vegas started a Taizé prayer service there after experiencing it at VYC.

The same liturgical musicians already have been lined up. They play a key role in helping the crowd to repeatedly sing each chant for several minutes — like a mantra. The repetition helps worshipers connect with God, while disconnecting them from life’s stress.

“Those that come, without exception, tell me they find a remarkable peace during the evening,” says Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, who first introduced the service to the Viatorian Community, back in 1999,

“It’s a wonderful way to connect with God,” he adds. “The music and the ritual seem to open people up so that they experience God’s love and peaceful presence.”

Taizé prayer originated with an ecumenical community of Christians in Taizé, France, who continue to gather daily to chant and meditate together. Its simple chants praise God and plea for God’s help.

Viatorians now offer Taizé prayer services at several of their parishes, including at Maternity BVM in Bourbonnais and at St. Viator Catholic Community in Las Vegas, as well as during its Viatorian Youth Congress, to expose young people to a different form of prayer.