The ultimate expression of an affection for oneself
International Assembly of Responsibles of Communion and Liberation
La Thuile, Italy, August 19-23, 2008
August 19, 2008
Nothing rings more true to men and women aware of themselves than the consciousness of their need; for this reason, nothing expresses what we are better than crying out, the cry of the needy person to the only One who can respond to this need. Therefore, let us begin this gesture of ours by helping each other, supporting each other to be totally ourselves in this cry, asking the Spirit to come to our aid.
Come Holy Spirit
I greet you one by one and welcome you to this gathering of responsibles, desiring that it be—as said in the title we've chosen for this responsibles meeting—"An Adventure for Oneself," an adventure for each one of us.
To prepare us and help us understand what this means, the Lord always makes events happen, rather than using a lot of words; He made another event occur just before our encounter, another exceptional fact: the death of our friend Andrea Aziani, a missionary in Peru, who worked for many years in the university, and who has left a mark wherever he's been.
In a letter Andrea wrote years ago to a friend (who had left for a meeting with the university students of Cuzco), a letter Fr. Giussani later quoted, Andrea expressed well his heartfelt desire, "I am certain that in this 'missionary bath' of these days there will emerge and grow, powerful and glad in you—and thus in all of us—the consciousness, the certainty of Christ in us and for us. O quam amabilis es bone Jesu." These are the words of a man who is almost confessing it to himself, without thinking in the least that today we might read it to everyone! He continued, “…that someone would fall in love with what we’ve fallen in love with!” This is the desire that what you love becomes a love for everyone, that others as well can be seized by He who has seized us. “But for this to happen, we have to burn, literally be aflame with passion for man, that Christ may reach him. ‘The flame must burn.’” Fr. Giussani, commenting on this letter, said, “I challenge you to find a similar testimony, anywhere, any time, in any part of the world, with any man.” Testimony doesn’t mean words, but an experience perceived, penetrated, lived, felt, inevitable, inexorable, superabundantly evident.
There’s no need to add anything to these words of Fr. Giussani’s about Andrea, words that brought to my mind the deaths of other friends of ours, like Fr. Danilo (who spent years in Paraguay and was beginning in Argentina), Giovanna (for years in Uganda), and Alberto (tried by long illness): witnesses to the death, all placed before us at the beginning of this encounter. I can’t think of them without there coming to mind that great expression—which describes our situation—pronounced in the Letter to the Hebrews, after listing an interminable series of witnesses to the faith, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” These witnesses had their gaze fixed on Jesus and traveled their life in this race to reach Him who had reached them, and they lived this testimony before our eyes, so we might see how it is possible to live the faith in this cultural and historical context of ours.
At the same time, many of us have had the opportunity to begin reading the text of the Equipes of 1982 and 1983, in which Fr. Giussani—after the visit to John Paul II, when the Holy Father said, “You have no homeland, because you cannot be assimilated to this society”—described how we are without a homeland if we want to live with our eyes fixed on Jesus. This makes us perceive on the one hand the importance of these witnesses, and on the other, the decisive importance of doing the journey we proposed at the Fraternity Spiritual Exercises, because in order truly to be able to live without a homeland, the faith must truly satisfy, and not be something just made of words. This is why I emphasized at the Exercises that the test of faith is satisfaction, and this putting together of faith and satisfaction is decisive, because so often we speak of faith as if it had nothing to do with satisfaction: we would find satisfaction elsewhere, according to our frameworks or images, as if there were no real and true relationship between faith and satisfaction. Instead, beginning to put them together enables us to start the verification to assess up to what point for us faith is the acknowledgment of something so real, of a Presence that is so real, true because real, that it brings satisfaction.
Therefore, the work ahead of us in these days can’t possibly be just throwing words to the wind or someone developing whatever reflections might come to mind; instead, it will be the verification of whether faith brings with itself this satisfaction, which enables us to live in any situation with our eyes fixed on Jesus, author and perfecter of faith.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
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."
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."