Taize Prayer? What's up with it?


#1

What is Taize prayer? I admit, I don’t know enough about it to determine whether it’s good or bad, but from what I gather, it sounds a bit new age to me, and I am disturbed to hear that some local Catholic circles near me are practicing it.

Can anybody tell me anything about it? Thanks!


#2

We use it my Seminary. It is totaly sung, and in Latin. It usually begins with a scripture meditation, and then the Taize prayer. Such as Laudamus Domine. That phrase is repeated over and over again. It starts in a low tone, and then increases. When it reaches the climax, it begins to go into a low tone again until it fades away. Then we go onto the next scripture meditation, and start another Latin phrase to repeat. It’s not anymore New-Age then repeating the Hail Mary in the Rosary, or “For the sake of His sorrowful passion,” in the Divine Mercy Chaplet.


#3

As an organist I know quite a bit of Taize chant, although I’m not familiar with their other forms of prayer. The music is meditative in style - most chants are only about eight bars long and the idea is that you repeat the prayer/chant numerous times. Some of the better-known chants include “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”, “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est” (Where charity and love are found, God is there), “Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus” (Give thanks to the Lord for He is good) and “O Lord hear my prayer”. Many of the chants are short passages from Scripture. Many of the chants are not appropriate in a Mass setting - such as the Gloria, since words are changed and it doesn’t use the full prayer. However, I find Taize chant to be a very good form of prayer - especially in the evening when one is “winding down”. The atmosphere when people engage in these chants is amazing - quiet, reflective and meditative. There is, of course, nothing wrong with repetitive prayer - similar to the Rosary, the repetition of prayers can “quieten” the mind and allow one to focus solely on conversing with God. As I said, I can only speak for the musical aspect of Taize, but if the prayer is any way like the music, I don’t think you have cause to be worried.


#4

never heard Latin chant described as new age before. you might be interested in previous threads on the spirituality forum, with links. here is the list that comes up in search
forums.catholic.com/search.php?searchid=1686777


#5

Can you describe what is wrong with it in specific, theological terms without using “smear words” like “new age”? In other words, what truth of the faith does it deny? What vice does it foster?

Edwin


#6

And tagging on to Edwin’s message, why would you be “disturbed” to learn that Catholics are practicing it when you admit you don’t know much about it?

I love Taize prayer and look forward to attending Taize services whenever I can. Joining with a group of people who are quietly chanting, listening to Scripture, and taking time to be quiet in God’s presence is a wonderful experience.


#7

In fairness to the OP, I don’t think his intent is to attack Taize prayer but only to learn more about it (which is what he asked for). There is a lot of New Age prayer stuff that is out there, so I think some initial suspicion of unfamiliar prayer forms is legitimate.

Taize prayer originated with the Taize Community in France. It’s an international ecumenical religious community. The current prior of the community (Brother Alois) is a Catholic.

My only experience with it comes from participating in a Taize prayer service at the most tradional parish I’ve ever been to. So I don’t believe there is anything heretical or “New Age” going on with it. As others have said, it is primarily chanting and meditation using Scripture.

In other words, there are no sacred crystals and no labyrinths. :wink:

Here’s the section on Taize Prayer from the Taize Community website:

taize.fr/en_rubrique12.html

That should give you a better idea of what it’s about. You can even listen to mp3’s of some of their songs!


#8

But “New Age” is just a label. I’m sensitive on this point–I grew up around fundamentalists who thought that any word they hadn’t heard before was somehow demonic. There are specific things that the Catholic Church has identified as problematic in New Age spirituality. Fine. So any prayer that is “New Age” in this bad sense should have specific bad things about it that can be identified. My fear is that people use the phrase “New Age” loosely to mean anything that sounds a bit more mystical or touchy-feely or weird than they are used to. If you can’t identify what is bad about a prayer, then you shouldn’t be using a pejorative label to describe it.

Edwin


#9

Fair enough. I would agree with that. The term does sometimes get misapplied (as pejorative words often do!) and is generally non-specific (and thus often unhelpful in explaining what is specifically problematic with something).

The way I interpreted the OP, he simply meant that what little he did know about the prayer seemed to raise flags as being potentially problematic. Thus he started this thread in hopes of learning more to either confirm or deny this initial impression. Hopefully he has received enough info now that he can see Taize prayer is not at odds with Church teaching. :thumbsup:

The OP probably could have been phrased more precisely. It just seemed like he was taking a lot of flak, so I wanted to balance things out.


#10

Thank you for all of your replies. I am sorry if I have offended anybody. As Joe perceived, some flags have been raised and I wanted to learn more about it before I made any judgement. These forums have always proven to be a very good place for me to go to for solid Catholic answers.

The red flags:

  1. I have never heard of it before and it does sound a bit new age-ish to me. (I know that’s not fair, but I do have a fallen nature.)

  2. The community that is offering Taize services has a reputation for being slightly less than conservative. And again, I am not placing judgement upon this particular community, this is just what I hear, and it’s for God to be the judge.

  3. I have seen “Taize Prayer” advertised on the sign outside of a protestant church that I drive by regularly. Not that I have any objections to the protestants practicing Taize prayer, but that lead me to the suspicion that this originated outside of the Church, as many other forms of new age prayer have that have leaked in. I now know that it originated in the Church.

  4. When I asked a fellow Catholic who was planning on attending a Taize service, she said “It probably is a bit new age.”

  5. I am very involved in young adult ministry as far as organizing and publicizing events and I need to check into this before I can endorse it.

From what I have heard from all of you, it seems like Taize is perfectly legit. I am sorry if I came off the wrong way. Thank you for your responses and God bless!


#11

But what precisely do you mean when you say ‘it sounds a bit New Age’? What did your fellow Catholic mean when they said ‘it probably is a bit New Age’? What exactly does the term ‘New Age’ signify to you? We can’t help you with your concerns unless you give us something specific to address.

And yes, Taize prayer is practiced by Protestants as well as Catholics. So is scripture reading, so is the Our Father, and for that matter plenty of Protestants pray the Rosary (in the same way Catholics do) as well. Ultimately this in itself is not a valid argument against it.


#12

Lily,

I never said that I’m trying to make an argument against it, and I’m not. There are a lot of things (new age or not) that are leaking into the Church that aren’t so good. I’m sure you’ll agree with me on that. (I’m not saying that the Church’s official teaching is affected by any of this.) With that in mind, the reason’s I gave above were enough, in my mind, to raise some red flags, and considering that I know nothing about it, it’s time to take it to the CA forums and get the opinions of some good Catholics.

The reason I listed my reasons above is because some people took my original post the wrong way and I wanted to (hopefully) explain my situation better.

Maybe the reasons I gave wouldn’t be enough to raise any red flags in your mind, but if you noticed something going on in your church that didn’t sit right, wouldn’t you investigate?

God Bless.


#13

What reasons though? You’ve given very few reasons, you’ve simply repeatedly used the buzz word ‘New Age’ and other buzz words like ‘orthodox’ without giving any indication that you have even the faintest understanding of what they mean and without indicating in what way they might, in your view, apply to Taize. :shrug:

That’s why I ask what SPECIFICALLY concerns you about Taize. What about it specifically might be ‘New Age’, and why? What about it do you think might be ‘unorthodox’ and why?

To be fair you made one point about it being used by Protestants as well, which is fair enough and something which needs to be considered. And which I’ve indicated is not of itself a reason to reject Taize. In saying it’s not sufficient reason to reject it I’m not saying that you were looking for reasons to reject it.


#14

I didn’t think I had to define the buzzwords in order to use them :-).

To me, orthodox would be remaining consistent with the formal teachings of the Church.

I don’t think you can pin down a definition on “new age.” It’s definitely a movement, and like you said, a buzzword. I think the danger comes when you rely on things other than God for your spiritual needs - that’s when it gets bad. I think that CCC 2116 puts it best. (2116 is talking about divination, not new age, but I think it makes my point) - “…conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.” I am not always so good with words, but I hope that explains it. My take is that new age is a mixture of various religious practices. There are a lot of potential dangers, but the biggest concern for me is when you step outside of God’s providence. I feel there is a danger where people are constantly searching for the ‘silver bullet’ with all of these different practices when God is the only ‘silver bullet’ who can ultimately fulfill us completely.

Nothing concerns me about Taize anymore, now that I have done some homework and got some opinions. It was really just an uneasy feeling that I had. It was NOTHING more than that, I didn’t mean to start a debate over it.

God Bless


#15

Let’s go to the source: taize.fr/en
I do not see anything wrong with Taize chants and prayers that are very meditative in nature. Very often prayers are conducted in a presence of the Blessed Sacrament. I have participated in a number of them and found them uplifting and quieting the soul.


#16

I’d like to thank you for bringing this up. I have also seen lots of Taize prayer being offered in parishes. My “red flag” and the reason it seemed “new age” to me was because it seemed so similar to centering prayer.
Now, before people start arguing about that, let me say that I think centering prayer can be done in a spiritual way that matches church teachings. The danger can be in using a word or phrase that does not lift one up to God, but instead turns one inward to self. For example, sometimes people will use the word “peace” with the intention “Where can I find peace in myself?” rather than “How can Christ’s peace be in me so that I can bring it to others?” or "How does Christ want me to grow in peace?"
As with many prayer forms, I think it isn’t the prayer itself, but the intention of the user that might have problems.
The Taize prayer that I’ve seen described sounds like a wonderful way to connect to God and to “listen with the ear of your heart” as St. Benedict would say.


#17

What exactly is wrong with being “slightly less than conservative”?


#18

I never really knew what Taize prayers were, although I have heard of them.

Based on what I’ve read in this post, the prayers seem more like hymns of praise or contemplation. Is that correct?

However, it does sound like it has buddhist influences. I say this because the buddhists also spend time chanting various phrases from their holy books etc.

I’m not going to have an opinion on this until I know more about this practice.

Also, what is the purpose of the Taize community? Is it a Catholic initiative to bring all Christians into communion with Rome? Or is it’s purpose to foster friendly relations between all of the Christian faiths without any doctrinal discussions?


#19

My questions exactly…had never heard of “Taize” before last week…in a neighboring Parish they will have a “Taize Service” sometime next week, I believe. Can’t tell you why, but when I was introduced to “Taize” and invited, I had a very uncomfortable sense about it…but from what I have read so far, it seems to be very innocent and beautiful so ??? It seems to be a form of worship that is very inclusive of ALL faiths without regard or discussion of differences.

They have a website, just google it. Looking at the photos does remind me of Buddhist Monks but what do I know?:shrug: I will hold this issue neutral as well, until I learn more as well.


#20

Thank you for the links. I had never heard Taize music before. It’s beautiful. I haven’t listened to all the links yet, but so far I am only familiar with the “Jesus, Remember Me” chant (the words of the Good Thief on the Cross). At our parish we sing it at the end of the Mass of Christian Burial, as we process from the church to the cemetery. It is so moving.

  • Westy

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