We have come to the last day of our Chapter of Mats. The morning Eucharistic celebration was presided over by fr Michael, our Minister General, who invited us to accept the words of Jesus in today's Gospel: "Do not be afraid!". A word that encouraged us to undertake the journey back to our homes tomorrow. Morning prayer added further support to trust without fear in the providence of the Father, entrusting him not only with our needs but expanding our intercession to the needs of the world.
We participated in the last biblical reflection of the week, offered to us and to many other people by br John, a member of the Community. We were given the gospel passage of the sending of the seventy-two disciples on a mission (Lk 10, 1-9), which speaks of hospitality offered (and required) to the disciples on a mission. After lunch, and the inevitable waiting that allowed us to have conversation with two thousand other people, we had the closing celebration of our Chapter of Mats. Whereas, at the opening celebration we had gathered outside the church and then processed in, this time we first gather in the church to praise the Lord and listen to some reflections, and, then we processed out of the church, to receive the mandate to go for the world, as our Rule invites us to do. In church, we listened to fr Alois who thanked us, recalling two similarities between us, friars, and the Taizé brothers: fraternity, which allows us to give witness not only as individuals but as a fraternity, and simplicity, which invites us to further simplify our lifestyle. The Minister Provincial of France, fr Michel Laloux, invited us to thank the Lord. He offered examples on how he himself has offered praise this week, finding both small and big reasons to do so. The Minister General fr Michael reminded us that, in these days, we have not been alone in our Franciscan adventure, but that we have been accompanied by God and as well as our brothers. He reminded us of our faith in a Trinitarian God, which roots our spirituality of dialogue, and allows for an open encounter with God and with all others, regardless of the culture or background. He concluded with a text from the Apocalypse of John that inspired the last Plenary Council. As fr Michael described, we have been invited to return to our first love and to listen to what the Spirit says. After these three interventions, the Letter of the friars Under Ten to the friars of the Order was read, prepared by a Commission of delegates. Finally, we received a medal from the Minister, a reminder of this Chapter. We then processed out from the church and into the garden beside the church. After having declared together that we want to serve Christ and the Church, in the style of St. Francis, and that we especially want to witness to him, dead and risen for us, we received the blessing of St. Francis. The singing of the Salve Sancte Pater concluded our celebration.
The celebration, intense and significant, was prolonged by a time of fraternal recreation, in the garden of the Taize community. Once again, we had conversations and exchanges with the brothers (ours and those of the Community of Taizé) whom we met during this week. Mutual good-byes were shared, given, many of us will leave early tomorrow morning, and, in fact, most will have left by tomorrow afternoon.
This spirit of farewell extended throughout the evening, during dinner and after dinner: hugs and greetings multiplied. During evening prayer, it was natural to be reminded that this would be the last evening of choral prayer, the last evening of participating in the singing and praising of God in evening prayer.
May the blessings of this week accompany use on our way home. To the Lord every praise and blessings for all experienced this week!