Sunday, June 1, 2008

This is the Victory that Conquers the World, Our Faith (Part Four -- Assembly)

The final set of notes from the Spiritual Exercises -- the Assembly and the announcements. Don't read these if you haven't yet gone to the exercises and you want to be surprised:

Sunday Morning:

QUESTION: We often stop at the sign. Because the sign is weak we risk stopping at the sign. What is meant by going beyond? How can we come to the depth?

ANSWER: A sign is a sign and it requires our freedom so much so that Father Giussani said that it's the nature of the sign that it requires our freedom. The sign makes something present that I don't see. I am asked whether I want to see or not. [...] What happens when you receive flowers? Try to identify with the structure of your reaction. And right away you'll realize whether the sign is large or small if it calls us. Yes, someone can resist logic but in front of reality, in front of the sign... [so what do you experience when you receive flowers?] Surprise? Memory? The flowers make him present. He's there, in the flowers. Reality is the first appearance of Being. Mystery and sign coincide. [...]

  • Our temptation is to reduce -- our normal common way to use reason -- we say, "I am" but I don't truthfully say "I am" until I say it with the awareness of "I am made."
  • Then I can face every situation with certainty and a sense of belonging.
  • Child with his mother.
  • In this is the consistency of the person -- to say "flowers" or "I" with all the awareness.
  • Like the gushing of a spring. Echo of a spring. In this instant, I am this way because another is making me now. This You who is making me now.
  • [Without this awareness he] blocks this ultimate vibration with vibrates within everything.
  • We live in a culture that teaches us to use reason in a certain way. Usually there is no Mystery. Without a vanishing point.
  • Reality always has the vanishing point inside of it that lets you breathe.
  • There is a lie that pervades everything -- the suffocating way in which we live.
  • Faith is knowing, not an opinion of mine.
  • Faith is knowing the truth. It is a reality that is more real than I am.
  • The ten lepers -- not a problem of bad manners!
  • What I want to fight against is the lie that we are orphans when we have a Father.
QUESTION: Father Giussani said, "Reality has never betrayed me." But why should we trust Reality when it is so contradictory?

ANSWER: I am, I exist. [if this is so, then] Another is making me now, and no contradiction can stop this -- can never stop me from recognizing Him.
  • St. Paul says, "Reality is Christ." If I look at reality without Christ in my days, I betray -- I lie, I'm not looking [with] truthfulness.
  • How can you say, "I am you who make me" and still be a sinner?
  • I'm very happy there is a place for me, a companionship of sinners. I am happy to be in this Church full of shabby people.
  • I am not defined by my evil.
  • You are not defined by [your evil].
  • [Christ says] "I have seized you in Baptism," and all of my evil is not strong enough to overcome the strength of that seizing.
  • Anyone who feels his own sinfulness, does so with sorrow.
  • Let's not mix it up -- sinfulness and cynicism.
  • [Sometimes, when we say, "I'm a sinner," it's cynical.] There isn't even the humility of asking to change.
  • There can be no contradiction between the witness and the heart. We can misuse the heart -- use this heart badly.
  • When the heart and the witness coincide [we know we're using our heart well]
  • each one of us has net the Movement through people with limits.
  • The witness is not the one who is coherent, he's the one who is magnetized by Another, even in the midst of his own sinfulness.
QUESTION: What does it mean for me to say, "You"?

ANSWER: [to be] dominated and challenged by this You. I can't reduce it to something about me -- it is a Presence dominating life -- a real You, alive, risen and among us.
  • Not in the poetic moment of our thoughts, but in the middle of the drama of our lives.
  • Without this "You" our life would be flt if we could not share it with You.
  • This You is the One who dominates life.
  • Life is different not due to this or that circumstance.
  • Can you say that saying "You" also calls to mind all that has happened.
  • Memory -- my "I" is wholly invaded by this memory...invaded.
QUESTION: What do you mean by being "satisfied"? I'm often not satisfied...

ANSWER: We mistake the cause and the results.
  • Being hungry is part of who we are -- it's not a negative.
  • We only worry when we're not hungry. [this would mean that we're sick, if we have no appetite]
  • We think that being satisfied means not being hungry.
  • No, being satisfied means continuous thirst and continuously satisfying.
  • A kind of satisfaction that always wants more.
  • This is the proof that Christ is so real that he can always satisfy me.
  • I desire more and more this relationship with Christ, which is so satisfying.
QUESTION: How does gaze become a judgment?

ANSWER: Your judgment about yourself is not about you alone
  • Peter's judgment changes, his gaze on reality is completely different...You, how can you live without going constantly to Father Giussani's books? [When I read them, I] receive a gaze. I needed this presence continuously. I would go back to this relationship.
  • You have much more than I did [when I lived in Spain], and you don't use it. Get on with it. If you don't need this, I don't know what else to tell you.
  • you've received the same gaze. What's the difference?
QUESTION: Does this new knowledge only happen in a place where the charism is alive? The event is happening does this reach me?

ANSWER: Our companionship needs to fight passionately to make Christ present...

QUESTION: Why didn't you quote from Maria Zambrano? [laughter]

  • Call to mission. Last year I mentioned charitable work. In light of what we've seen of Brazil, [we know that we have been] chosen to believe, to bear witness to Christ. Our task is living and witnessing to Christ.
  • The method used by the Mystery.
  • God chooses some, so that through them, he can get to everyone else. Make Him present to everyone we meet.
  • The power of mission is inside of us.
  • Our desire to witness to all the ends of the earth comes from within us, from what we experience rather than from an external appeal.
  • The mission, our desire to witness is the ultimate proof of our faith.
  • The love of Christ impels me. If we don't live in this missionary dimension, it's not about what others are missing, but what we are missing.
  • Mission makes us really aware of what grace we've received. [It is] the greatest charitable work we can do for anybody.
  • We can't help talking about these things -- for us!
  • This offers us the possibility to realize our desire for mission -- witness wherever we are.
  • I think that by reading these texts of the beginning of our Movement, and at the beginning the first GS students went to Brazil.
  • The Lord has placed Brazil in front of our eyes -- to provoke us by a fact.
  • Since the beginning, when Fr. Giussani spoke about these things, he said, "You needed an education not to consider anything as Yours but everything as destined for the whole world."
  • The spreading of the kingdom of God. The front line.
  • POVERTY: How we relate to reality. We can be free from many useless things. We're free, we don't need them. Poverty is born out of His superabundance. use things to take them to their destiny. They are available to anything. We need to verify that Christ fulfills us so much that he sets us free. Christ presses us from within. It is an education, a work on ourselves.
  • SCHOOL OF COMMUNITY: Freedom -- freedom is the satisfaction of desire. You don't verify faith by speaking about Christ but by satisfying the need for freedom.
  • EXEMPLA -- exhibit at Rimini, attempt of the 13th century to revive antiquity the classical world. Not repeat, but recreate. To recognize the work of One among us.

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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."