Nontraditional Prayer Finds a Place at BC

If a friend were to approach you asking to accompany them to a church service, you would probably know exactly what you were getting yourself into. Immediately, your mind is filled with thoughts of organs, scripture preached from an imposing podium and, most unappealingly, standing.

Enter: Taizé prayer service. This type of worship takes its name from Taizé, the town in France where the idea originated. Taizé prayer services stress silence while integrating scripture readings and meditative chanting. The atmosphere of a Taizé prayer service is calm, casual and reflective. The instrumentation is very minimal and there is no formal service leader. Most interestingly of all, attendees are encouraged to break from the tradition of standing (gasp!) and take whatever position they find most comfortable during the short service.

Photo courtesy of Boston College Campus Ministry.

BC’s first Taizé prayer session of the year was on Monday, September 22nd. Here at BC, the faith program, Cura, is in charge of Taizé prayer services, which are held in the Gasson Chapel. The Gasson Chapel is generally a quiet, contemplative space, but with the addition of dozens of candles and a soothing flute player, the small space becomes a cocoon of warmth and serenity.

The service begins after the lights are shut off. The only illumination is that of the small candles on the floor and in the hands of those there to reflect quietly and feel the comfort of God amidst the tranquil silence.

If you are skeptical about this process, take the risk -- you may very likely find it to end up being a worthwhile experience. One meaningful aspect of the prayer is the intercession portion, wherein all in attendance are invited to express their prayers out loud. Thanks to the welcoming atmosphere created by candlelight and meditative silence, those in attendance are usually quite comfortable sharing personal hopes and prayers.

This divergence from a traditional prayer service can be refreshing and even a bit revitalizing after a typical BC day of pretending like everything is wonderful. The truth is that sometimes everything is not wonderful. Sometimes it is nice to just take a step back and bask in whatever level of faith or spirituality suits one best. Being in such an intimate setting gives one the chance to reflect on life and spirituality without being subjected to, what can be, traditionally unappealing rituals.

If you are interested in Taizé prayer services, the remaining sessions will take place in the Gasson Chapel at 8:30 p.m. on the following dates:

Thursday, October 2nd

Monday, October 20th

Monday, November 10th

Monday, December 8th

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Evan Martinez