Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Synthesis at the national diakonia 1/08

My notes from Father Carron's synthesis at the Communion and Liberation national Diakonia:

What is the evidence that John and Andrew had encountered Something
crucial for their life? The sign is that they decided to come back to
be with Him the next day. [It seems] simple, but in this event is the
whole of Christianity.
I am always struck that we meet many people in life -- but what makes us want to come back to [a person]? What awakens in us a curiosity to the point where we decide to come back -- like what happened with the disciples? Little by little they became friends -- this is the victory of Christ in life -- that we become one thing in Him, and this is the defeat of individualism. They needed to meet him again and again every day. They couldn't live without him. This is the evidence of the meaning of the encounter that they had with him. This is the same [thing] that happens with us. We encounter Somebody -- the Christian community in which we find something for our life that we desire forever. For this reason we are happy to be together in these days. Because the Life passes through this event of being together, of this event of the encounter with the community, [the] Christian community. And I hope that always more we become friends and we sustain each other in our path, our journey to our destiny, our happiness, and become more and more one thing, One Person in Christ. And what did we live these days here? What is the content of what we are living here?
At La Thuile a proposal [was] made that we have these friends, witnesses. This is the proposal that [the] Christian community, the Movement has [made] to us. This is what this booklet ["Friends, that is Witnesses] did [for] us. [Now] we meet after six months to verify that this has happened. What is the work that we have done together? To accompany each one of us in this journey for learning the way of life.
I want to repeat in [this] moment the most important words of the School of Community for this year. Because, in this work we have the proposal of the movement once more. And encounter -- that is the grace greater than any other we have received in life. The encounter with Christ in the Christian community and this is the encounter with a real thing, a community, as John and Andrew encountered a real person, Jesus, who they could touch and see. We can touch and see in the Christian community. An encounter in School of Community that reveals one to oneself. [It] reveals who I am.
[That which] is the real desire of my heart wakes the whole desire of my heart. In this sense [it] reveals myself to myself -- who I am. For this reason, the School of Community is a grace, a gift, the most important gift because all our attempts are not able to give an instant of what the encounter does. Because nobody has looked on our life with the kindness, mercy, love -- as Christ has done with us. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. This is the grace of the encounter that embraces our whole person, whatever the circumstances, whatever [...].
There is no encounter without a proposal. There is no encounter [in which] we don't [also] meet at the same time a proposal for our life.
What is this proposal -- the working hypothesis that Christ put in our heart, eyes, mind, to enter into reality [...] to embrace myself every morning and to look at the sea or the sun, our friends, the people -- to face every need we face in every moment. The proposal is to live, to enter life.
The proposal is not to be together in some moments, for meetings, a club. [This holds] no interest. I'm not interested. [It is] a proposal for the whole life, because only if we enter [into] life with this proposal can we recognize the value of the proposal, the promise of Christ for our life. Don't take this for granted because the last thing we consider is the Christian proposal when we face life. First we verify the ideas in our mind, our attempts at solutions -- many times the last [thing we consider] is the Christian proposal. [But] when we think of [these] other possibilities (our own ideas, attempts), it's the death of Christian faith. We complain Christ doesn't fulfill this promise but the question is if we have taken seriously this proposal. The truth of it can only be discovered in life, in the relationship with reality. We should verify its truth in reality. Verification is in the relationship with everything that happens in our life -- that Christ can [answer everything].
For this reason Father Giussani said in the School of Community, to verify we must commit ourselves completely with clear and renewed concentration. This is what I call "our work." The work is this commitment -- not only [to] a meeting, a gesture, with some kind of [...] within us. The commitment is in the way we face everything. Communion and Liberation is not a club. It is a proposal for the whole of life.
The reason for the encounter [is that] we need to do this verification in community, in the relationship with the community. For this reason the victory over individualism is decisive. We can't do it alone.
[When we have difficulties, we have to remember to face] this situation with Christ in my eyes, looking at the difficulties and repeating [that] even the hairs of your head are numbered. But many times when we are in the bottom of our nothingness we forget this and we need somebody, some witness that can gaze on our life with the life of Christ and this -- it's not possible to do alone. For this reason, the apostles came back again and again and again to meet Jesus because they were needy for this gaze, this embrace.
Verification not of our images, our thought, our feeling. Christianity is a FACT -- a different thing. It is in this moment, when we recognize this, that somebody can look at [us] with [a] kindness, a mercy, a tenderness, that we can't imagine -- when [we are] at the bottom of our nothingness. This is the experience of Christian faith that makes it reasonable to adhere to Christ.
This is the verification -- so we can recognize how reasonable it is to be Christian because we can face every moment of life in the company of Christ.
Encounter is experience because in that moment we can make the comparison [between] the proposal of Christianity with every other proposal and we can recognize the difference between the proposal of Christ [and all the others].
This is the proposal for life, to enter in life, in everything of life, and it is in reality that I become always more supported [by] Christ and enthusiastic [for] Christ.
Because it is life [which is the place where] we recognize that Christ enters into our life and changes [any] circumstance.
[It is for this reason that Father Giussani said that] Christianity is subversive [...].
[Otherwise, there is] no reason to remain Christian. We cannot repeat doctrine as if this were enough. It's the new experience of living ordinary things in a new way. This is what makes us enthusiastic [for] Christ, this experience.
From the beginning of this [Diakonia we have asked], What is the problem of our Christian life? Christianity is easy: always the child needs to find his mother beside him and life is easy. For us Christ is not so real as mother/child. Why? Because Christ is not real? This is the problem we need to face in the School of Community. This is the first problem. This one. That we are not sure of his presence. Many times Christ is an extra thing. Not so real as the mother is for the child.
Many times we live as orphans instead of as sons. Nothing is more evident than [the fact that] at this moment another is making us. Many times we reduce [Christ] to a feeling. [Then] when I don't feel him, he doesn't exist. We are in the context of our culture. For many people religion is a matter of feeling and ethics.

[As the Pope said] we live in a world that has decided not to face the problem of the truth. Our faith opposes this resignation in front of the truth.
[This is the problem: we think that] we are not able to know the Mystery. [We think that ] faith is not a knowledge. [We think that the] religion of Christianity is only a feeling that we feel.
It is possible to know the Mystery. Faith is a question of knowledge. Can I really know Christ, as I know this glass? [Is Christ a reality] or is [Christianity] something without consistency? The encounter with Communion and Liberation helps us understand the profound meaning of these words of the Pope.
From the beginning, Father Giussani [emphasized the connection between] faith and reason. [When] teaching religion, [he had] this passion that faith first and foremost must demonstrate that it is reasonable and this is crucial for us in this moment. School of Community is the tool we have [in order] to face the reduction of faith to feeling or to ethics. Faith is a question of knowledge. We can start School of Community [after this Diakonia] more aware of the importance of this question for our life. [It]is not a question for philosophers. [It is for Christians] to live Christian faith in this cultural situation in which faith and religion are reduced to feeling and ethics.
For the knowledge of reality, Father Giussani insists, involves our person. Even more important, we need to face a method of knowledge that needs to involve the whole person [in order] to verify the credibility of this witness.
The third premise of the Religious Sense [is so important] because knowledge always involves reality. The position of our person before reality [is what determines] our capacity to say yes or not [to Christ's proposal in the same way as] to say yes when I ask is this paper white? We need to answer, but this [requires] a commitment of the whole person. We have before us a possibility, a proposal that fits perfectly with our situation -- in which the Mystery in his kindness, tenderness, [comes] to help us -- in this moment in which we are called to live our Christian faith, to commit ourselves in this world.
[The School of Community exists] to help us, to accompany [us, so that we can be] together]in this journey. I hope that every one of us can be available to this work, to answer to this grace, because it is a grace. To answer in this situation that we have tools, this powerful instrument, that allows us to face [our cultural situation]. So, good work to everybody!

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."