Friday, July 11, 2008

CL Summer Vacation (D.C. Community) 2008

Originally posted on Is It Possible?

The theme of the vacation

We began, the evening we arrived, with a barbecue, singing, and games. The next morning, we hiked to the top of Bald Knob, the highest elevation in West Virginia:

The hike took us through meadows studded with wild strawberries, daisies, and wild blueberries (the children had very little appetite when it was time for lunch!)
The path also led us through dappled woods...

The view from the top of Bald Knob. We sang until the clouds produced lightning. Then we all had to make a dash back to the bottom!

Pieralberto Bertazzi joined us. He met the movement in 1963 in a chance encounter that introduced him to a new way of living. He lived very intensely through the crisis of 1968 and told us at length about his experience.

Notes from the talk given by Pieralberto Bertazzi, a medical doctor and Memores Domini:
  • [Fr. Giussani's genius lay in] going back to the root, back to the beginning -- to ask the question: What is faith?
  • Our faith is knowledge of a fact -- this is the indicator of our faith's truth -- NOT what we decide, otherwise, Christ becomes the starting point and support for our projects...
  • Today we have been living something so similar to things that I did as a high school student...everything done, lived, tasted...
  • I met Fr. Giussani in 1963, on a ski vacation. [It was pure chance...I was looking for a way to go skiing, and I found a flyer...] Chance is one of the ways in which the Mystery operates in history, Reality.
  • GS was not a religious group -- I encountered a life, a way of living everything, something unexpected that I didn't know existed.
  • [It was so attractive] that it made me willing to become a part of it. [Being part of it] allowed me to do everything in a new way -- full of joy, love, solidarity...
  • God entered into the life of man as a man -- to be with God you have to encounter an experience of life.
  • Living the usual things of life in a way that reminds me of God.
  • Giving the usual terms of our language a new taste that was inevitably appealing and attractive.
  • Began following and sharing my life.
  • What you liked was still there but in a new form.
  • It was if those people knew the best way to do everything!
  • 1968: Revolution among young people -- not just young people but everyone, around the world.
  • This was a fundamental event in my life.
  • [It provided a] verification of the encounter, when it becomes really true for you, becomes yours.
  • [It was during that time that I knew that] I will never leave it, it is mine.
  • For some of the GS students, though, they thought that the experience of the Movement was not enough -- "something else" was needed to change the world.
  • But the Movement is not a "religious" movement, it's a life. So everything is included in it.
  • If you encounter what answers the deepest needs of your humanity, you have to follow...
  • The greatest friend I ever had in my life left... [I remember a conversation with him in which he said,] "What I've seen by meeting you, what I have experienced with you, has helped me to see that I don't need you, I won't follow you."
  • [But] I met something that made me a living person...
  • 1968: [There was] a generalized request for authenticity in life -- justice, freedom, unity...
  • To build this new world, they got rid of their tradition, their family, their home, and you cannot build anything from yourself alone.
  • We haven't made ourselves, we are not ours.
  • There is something you have to depend upon.
  • They thought they were going to invent and build a new world. You have to recognize who you are, that you depend...
  • [While Fr. Giussani was in America...] we did the typical things: meeting together, communicating to other people, and doing charitable works. We wrote leaflets.
  • [We had to communicate with others because we realized that] what they were looking for was exactly what we had already met!
  • [The name "Communion and Liberation" came about in this way...] We were trying to decide on a name for the leaflets we were writing to others in the University. I suggested, "Communion and Liberation" because I said, "We are concerned with liberation that everybody wants, and we have found it in communion." Nobody liked the name. They thought it was too long, but one person [who had a lot of influence said we should use it.]
  • Later, when Fr. Giussani returned, he saw the title of a leaflet that was taped to a door...he said, "Yes, that's what we are..."
  • I recently read a study done by sociologists. CL is the only new thing born during the sixties that is still alive and growing.
  • Question: Why did 1968 happen? Response: This is the first generation that had not experienced war. There was great prosperity. We had everything, didn't have to fight to build our life. But young people didn't find the response to the needs of their hearts. It is not something we build, it's something we receive.
  • Question: What is the "1968" challenge of today? Response: That we put our reason before experience. What had happened was greater than we can conceive with our reason. Our impatience is deadly -- we begin to think that this method isn't effective enough. But it wasn't true that what we had encountered wasn't suitable to meet our human needs. Don't start from what you can plan or conceive, don't make plans by yourself. Remaining, instead -- convinced of what our eyes have seen and ears have heard.
  • Teresa: Our problem is a reduction of what we've seen. We must remain faithful to our own history.
We also watched a video presentation, the same one we watched at the Fraternity Exercises, of the Zerbinis' witness about their life in Brazil.

The choir was so great! Some of the GS kids joined in and were a tremendous gift to the vacation. They helped us with the singing several times a day.
Special thanks to Margie and Stephen for leading.

There was another video presentation, which contained an interview with Joshua, who met the Movement while in prison. I couldn't take notes during the video because I was riveted by what Joshua said, but here are my notes, from the brief introduction before the video, by one of Joshua's friends:
  • What I really want to say is that Joshua is a fact that I can't ignore or reduce. There is Something that changes him and changes me. He's been in prison 12 years already, and he has six more to go, but he has this amazing gratitude...
  • [...] When you go into the prison, see all the prisoners, and see Joshua -- the prison is oppressive, grey, you don't open your eyes all the way -- Joshua doesn't fit, he doesn't belong there. He lives an alertness, awareness and attention to the world around him.
  • He has a lively engagement with things and people.
  • He'd had a Protestant friend, and he looked at Catholicism in order to argue with him, but his research convinced him.
  • He survives, remains interested and interesting. His hope is in a real human presence; he's built on this.

The kids joined in the frizi on the final night. We had performances by the littlest ones (shown here), the elementary school kids, the middle school kids and the GS kids, in addition to a full-blown series of adult frizi! We weren't done until midnight!

There was so much more, so much that I can't even put into words! It was all so beautiful and rich...

1 comment:

Freder1ck said...

Thank you for this. It's a way for us to participate this year.

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."