Brother Roger of Taizé
God's Love Alone
ISBN 0- 8264- 7020- 3
Continuum, English translation 2003, Ł8.99
(price at publication of review)
Reviewed January 2004; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2003
This is a book of great simplicity, but also of great profundity. It is the fruit of Brother Roger's prayer and reflection on the questions young people bring to Taizé. It is the product of his listening. But it also arises from his life in the Community from which he draws his examples.
The characteristic Taizé themes are here, simplicity, joy, community, how to find meaning in your life. The opening chapter asks, 'Are there realities which make life beautiful?' He says that trust, hope and peace of heart are what make a life beautiful. We don't need to be clever or gifted to lead meaningful lives which are a gift to others. This meaning is to be found in opening ourselves, to trusting ourselves to the mystery of love, which lies at the centre of our being. The chapter on The Breath of Trusting tackles the barriers to trust. He says to think that God condemns human beings is one of the greatest obstacles to faith. There is no threat in the name of God. He is never the tormentor of the human conscience (page 32). Indeed he says every human being is invited into communion with God (page 49).
However, there is grit here, too. He comments on the questions frequently asked, 'How can I be myself? How can I fulfil myself?' Christ does not say to me, 'Be yourself'. He says, 'Be with me'. Christ does not tell us, 'Find yourself'. He says, 'You follow me'.
The final chapter consists of three letters to young people summarising the main themes of the book. It is for them he writes. It is their hearts he seeks to touch. He longs to share with them that joyful reality and presence whom he clearly knows, loves and delights in. I hope many will discover this book and learn from Brother Roger's wisdom.
The R. Rev. John Austin
Bishop of Aston
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