Young people as far as from Siberia arrived Friday December 28 to seek Christian answers for a world in turmoil. Many of them, carrying rucksacks and musical instruments, came by special trains and buses for the 5 day meeting, organized by the France based ecumenical Taizé community.
The biggest group consists of about 26,000 Polish youngsters, who arrived to the snow covered Hungarian Capital to participate in what has been called “a pilgrimage of trust,” at a time of global terrorism.
TRUST IN CHRIST
21-year old Alicja Szarska from the Polish city of Wroclaw said she wanted to show other Polish people “how beautiful it can be to visit the Church.”
Szarska stressed that the September 11 attacks against the United States and world-wide fear about terrorism did not discourage her and other young people to trust in Christ.
“We don’t believe that those people who carried out the attacks were really people who believed in God,” she said about the terrorists who claimed to be followers of Islam. “Somebody who believes in God, who believes in love, can not do such things.”
Her views were shared by Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow who made clear in a written message that “for those who inspire the ideologies and for the heads of terrorist movements, religion is only a pretext to attain their ignoble aim.”
(READ MORE AFTER THIS MESSAGE. CLICK ON THE LINK FOR MORE INFORMATION)
Farmotel Stefania is located in hunting area in one of Hungary’s most prestigious wine regions. Near hills, forests and lakes. It has all the facilities of a fine hotel and offers full privacy, huge outdoor space, sauna, grill house and much more.
Discussions about real love will be an important part of the meeting, Taizé brothers said. Brother Roger, who founded the Taizé community in 1940, urged the thousands of participants to “love and say it with your life.”
Speaking at the opening service in one of the main exhibition halls between christmas trees and biblical paintings, Brother Roger warned that love does not go without forgiveness. He referred to an encounter he had with a 9-year old boy.
FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION
“That small boy said to me: “my father left my family. I never see him, but I still love him. And everyday I pray for him.” He added that when he heard this he realized that “this little boy is a shows the forgiveness described in the Gospel.”
Brother Emile of Taizé, told BosNewsLife that forgiveness is especially important in Eastern Europe. He said that Croats, Serbs and Bosnians will have an opportunity to reconcile their differences, after a decade of war in the Balkans.
“Difference can be celebrated. I think that is the hope of this meeting that people will develop this sense of communion.” He said that young people may receive a call from God to go out and share their faith.
Brother Emile acknowledged that some have criticized his community for being an ecumenical organization. “But let me make clear that our basis is the joy that Jesus Christ has risen from the death.”
His hopes were also reflected by Archbishop George Carey of Canterbury who urged young people to draw closer to God during the Budapest gathering. “As you return from your pilgrimage be inspired to serve the communities where you live for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom of justice and peace,” he wrote in a letter.
22-year old Andre Valint from Slovakia said he wanted to meet people to renew his faith in Christ. “I hope to find God here,” said Valint, a devote Catholic. He and most other participants will be accommodated in schools and with thousands of Hungarian families.
FAMILIES AND STRANGERS
“Many Hungarian families who opened their doors to strangers are no Christians,” admitted Taizé team member Orsi Hardi (27) to BosNewsLife. “But many of them called us because they heard this was a “pilgrimage of trust”, which they said they needed in this time of terrorism.”
She suggested that it was encouraging to see that a decade after Taizé’s first gathering in Hungary in 1991, Hungarians are still interested in the Christian values that are preached by her community. Hungary’s national television MTV 2, Eurovision and France 2 are expected to broadcast parts of the gathering.