The prior of the ecumenical Taizé community is inviting a "conscious choice, to opt for joy," saying this will enable us to face reality and even suffering.
Brother Alois Loser affirmed this in his annual letter to the ecumenical Taizé group. This year's note came from Chile, following the second international Taizé meeting in Latin America, held Dec. 8-12.
"We undergo trials and suffering in our lives, sometimes for long periods," Brother Alois reflected. "But we always want to try and rediscover the joy of living. Where does this joy come from?"
He went on to consider the joy that "resists discouragement;" that does not "depend only on passing circumstances" and "comes from trust in God;" that "even in times of trial," can "remain buried like embers under the ashes, without going out."
The prior observed that "opting for joy does not mean running away from life’s problems. Instead, it enables us to face reality, and even suffering."
"Opting for joy," he said, "is inseparable from a concern for other human beings. It fills us with unlimited compassion."
A taste of God's joy, even if it is fleeting "turns us into women and men of communion," Brother Alois stated. And he added that "individualism as a road to happiness is an illusion."
"The road to happiness, in the steps of Jesus, lies in the gift of ourselves, day by day. Through the lives we live, in great simplicity, we can express God’s love," he said. "[...] Over-accumulating material possessions kills joy. It keeps us trapped in envy. Happiness lies elsewhere: By choosing a simple lifestyle, working not just for profit but to give meaning to life, sharing with others, everyone can help create a future of peace. God does not give a spirit of timidity but a spirit of love and inner strength."
Brother Alois concluded the Letter From Chile with a reflection on forgiveness, which he said "can never be used to condone injustice."
"On the contrary," the prior continued, "believing in forgiveness makes us freer to recognize our own faults, as well as the mistakes and injustices around us and in the world. It is up to us to repair anything that can be made good."
God's forgiveness is unfailing, Brother Alois declared. And Christ "distinguished between the person and the offense committed. Until his last breath on the cross, he refused to condemn anyone. And instead of minimizing the fault, he took it upon himself."
This leader on the path of ecumenism acknowledged that "there are situations where we do not manage to forgive. The wound is too big."
He suggested remembering in those moments that while "God’s forgiveness never fails," for us, "it is sometimes only by stages that we succeed."
Yet, he proposed, "The desire to forgive is already a first step, even when that desire remains engulfed in bitterness."
"By forgiving, God does more than wipe away the offense," Brother Alois added. "He gives a new life in his friendship, rekindled day and night by the Holy Spirit.
"Welcoming and sharing God’s forgiveness is the road that Christ has opened. We move forward on it in spite of our weaknesses and our wounds. Christ does not turn us into women and men who have already reached the goal. [...]
"And we can all make this discovery: Forgiveness received or extended creates joy. Knowing that one is forgiven is perhaps one of the deepest, most liberating of joys. It is the source of the inner peace that Christ wants to communicate to us. That peace will lead us far; it will radiate outwards for others and for the world."