What Does it Mean to Love?

Today is the fifth anniversary of the death of Brother Roger of Taize, who founded the Taize Community seventy years ago. Believing that community life could be a sign of God’s love, Brother Roger determined “that that it was essential to create a community with men determined to give their whole life and who would always try to understand one another and be reconciled, a community where kindness of heart and simplicity would be at the centre of everything.” From the single community he founded in the village of Taize, France in 1940, communities of Taize brothers now exist in many places around the world.

For Brother Roger, giving oneself to God means living a life of love, choosing God means choosing to love. Talking about what it means to love, he wrote

All who choose to love and to say it with their life are led to ask themselves one of the most compelling questions of all: how can we ease the pain and torment of others, whether they are close at hand or far away?

But what does it mean to love? Could it be to share the suffering of the most ill-treated? Yes, that’s it.

Could it mean having infinite kind-heartedness and forgetting oneself for others, selflessly? Yes, certainly.

And again: what does it mean to love? Loving means forgiving, living as people who are reconciled. And reconciliation always brings a springtime to the soul.

You may express what it means to live a life of love rooted in God somewhat differently than does Brother Roger. But I think we could all valuably ask ourselves how we can ease the pain of others, how we can share their suffering, how we can give ourselves more selflessly and what it means to live as people who are reconciled.