Thursday, May 29, 2008

More on openness, unity

While talking with a friend, I was reminded of a letter in Traces that I had read several years ago. I'm going to reprint it here. I think that it shows a concrete example of untiring openness and most faithful unity:

Working for Life
Dearest Fr Giussani: For 37 years, I was in charge of the instruments in an operating room in the Obstetrics and Gynecology ward. In my region, Molise, the rate of recourse to voluntary interruption of pregnancy has always been very high compared to the total population. Because of my affection for Jesus, I applied to be an objector, but I did not wash my hands of things just because of this. Quite the contrary. I tried to make Jesus present in those circumstances in every way my creativity could invent. I would talk with the women to open them up to welcoming the little seed that was already inside them; many times I would sterilize the instruments that others should have checked so that the operation would not result in more pain; I would debate with my non-objector coworkers to show them the lack of sense in their choice, and above all I would talk with the doctors who performed abortions. In so many years, the Lord has given me the grace of seeing many babies saved through me. But the greatest gift the Lord gave me came the day the abortion doctor on my ward phoned to tell me that after so many years of my witness, his heart had been touched, and he had decided to apply to be an objector. He had understood that my admonishing him, urging him, was born of a real affection for him, of a real desire for his good. The Lord has used me so that the creature He loved could discover the love of his Creator. Now I have retired, and in the hospital where I worked, as a consequence of this doctor’s objection, abortions are no longer performed. I have learned from this experience that what counts in man is the task each one has in life, but no one is ever alone in this task, because God’s Mercy always makes itself our Companion. Thank you, Fr Giussani, because the Yes that you said one day has made the Lord’s embrace possible for me in a way that responded so fully to my heart.
Enza, Termoli

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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."