Monday, September 22, 2008

Impossible correspondence

hiking in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado

Synthesis from the GS Equipe, held in Estes Park, Colorado, 2008:

First Point: Affection for your self.
  • Why do we have to consider this? It's not automatic that we're going to have an affection for ourselves. All of us have a heart. You did not choose to wake up this morning with this need to be loved, this need to know the meaning of yourself.
  • We desire things, like justice. We need justice, just like we need a liver. We don't choose these needs. The heart is a fact. It is in you and in me.
  • The amazing thing is -- and this shows how divine God is -- this is the very heart of who you are. None of you can avoid the need for love, justice, meaning -- the amazing thing is that while these things are in you, you don't have to pay attention.
  • This is why Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" and "I praise you Father because you've hidden these things from the wise, from the valedictorians, from the kids with the highest SAT scores, and you have revealed them to the simplest children."
  • Jesus talked about these things.
  • Which of you got up this morning wanting to be loved? Looking for beauty, conscious of the injustice in the world?
  • We meet someone who has an affection for my heart more than I do, who would say yes to my heart more than I myself do.
  • You heart is a fact about you that you didn't decide. Think about last night's testimony [from Gabi, a high school senior in Toronto]. Her heart started to cry out, "Stop ignoring me!" The heart told her, "What do I care about all our volunteer work." She had very little affection for herself, paid very little attention to the real needs of her heart. This is a fact that none of you decides -- you heart, like your liver, like your eye color, like whether you're male or female, like who your parents are. But you can ignore this fact, the fact of your heart.
  • This is the fundamentally immorality and evil -- that we ignore the fact of our heart, which wants more than basketball, wants more than getting into a good college.
  • I understand better than you just how critical this is.
  • Because you can say no to this heart eternally -- it's called hell -- the place for people who have no affection for themselves.
  • You say no to the call for beauty, justice, for love, for goodness. In the name of homework! How do I know? Because that's what you care most about.
  • When you meet someone who understands you better than you understand yourself, this is truly exceptional.
  • Think of today's Gospel reading [the parable of the Sower] -- the depth of your ground is equal to the affection you have for yourself. When a person meets the fact of God's Presence -- when one meets this Word, it can be taken out of his heart by birds -- worldly desires. But think of the soil of Gabi's heart: it's good soil. The soil is acknowledging the need to say yes to the fact of Jesus in our heart.
Nymph Lake
Second Point: The encounter
  • We're talking about a fact: I meet something that's not me.
  • Even if you have no affection for yourself, you can't stop it from happening. The Pharisees encountered him, too. They couldn't stop the fact of the encounter with that person. Your feelings can't stop the encounter because that other human being touches, solicits, speaks to, calls after the heart. But I can say no to this encounter, this fact as well. Will I let that encounter be taken away from me, as well?
  • It happens so easily. One second after you meet something exceptional, something you can't explain or put into your pocket, one second later, you can go back to your ideas about what should have been said, what should have happened.
  • Immorality is not remaining in front of what happens.
  • "Rose has given her life for us. She gives her life to us every day." This is what one of those women said about Rose in the film we watched last night: "Who gives her life for us every day." This woman [who recognized the fact that Rose gave her life] is the kind of person for whom the kingdom is given, who will herself give 50 or 100 fold.
Chris leading the singing

Mountains and Aspens
Third Point: "Who is this man?"
  • The fact of the encounter raises a question naturally. When I met Marco Bersanelli, I had this burning question -- Who are you? How does a person become like you?
  • I was visiting a CLU group in New York recently, and there was a guy there who was clearly Jewish. I asked him if he was Jewish, and he said "yes." So I had to ask him the question: Where did he come from? How did this happen? I had to find out. He told me that he had this teacher called Michael O'Neil -- that was enough for me to understand.
  • This is a fact, too, that the question comes out if we stay in front of this person.
  • And we can ignore this fact.
  • Listen, you can't shrug your shoulders in front of the question. You have to answer it.
  • That question demands an answer. You have to account for that -- or you are immoral with your own heart.
  • You can't pretend that the fact didn't happen.
  • If we stay in front of the encounter, then you say in front of the fact of the question -- What is this? Who is this?
  • And that answer is not something that we are able to answer.
  • The apostles couldn't figure out what was going on. "Philip, you've been with me all this time and you still don't know me?"
  • Jesus alone could answer that question, and he did answer it again and again. He gave them an answer.
  • The answer doesn't come from us; it comes from outside, from the person who moves us.
  • The answer is that this is Jesus of Nazareth.
  • What can explain those ladies with AIDS who were dancing and singing? Or Gabi? Or Madi? Ask them and they will tell say it's Christ.
  • They're testimony can be checked against the 2,000 years of history of people who say they know him, and you can compare. This experience occurs in the Gospels first.
  • I'll never forget one time I was in School of Community, reading At the Origin of the Christian Claim, which is all about the experience of the disciples when they encountered Christ, and this one young girl, her name is Katie, said, "But wait! What this is describing is exactly what is happening to me!" As if her experience verifies what happened to the apostles, rather than the other way around!
  • Who is it who has been entrusted with safeguarding custody of the 2,000 years of this history?The Successor of Peter. What does the Pope say? Here in in CL you experience Jesus of Nazareth.
  • The crux of the matter is in your loyalty in front of your experience of the witnesses.
  • The fact of the heart, the fact of this encounter, the fact of the question it raises, the fact of the answer that comes from a witness -- these are all FACTS.

Singing at Emerald Lake

Fourth Point: The witness teaches you the unmistakable signs of his presence
  • That you meet people with first and last names who care about the fulfillment of your heart...
  • What does it matter if you get into Princeton and lose yourself?
  • Unmistakable marks -- it is by learning these that we come to certainty that He is here.
  • This is why GS exists.
  • One boy here said to me this morning: "But here at this equipe, I have come to understand that you're insisting that we in GS really come to know that Jesus of Nazareth is with us in the reality where we are."
  • To come to know him, who he is, as the truth of who he is.
  • This is why GS exists.
  • GS exists to give me the gift of faith.
  • This knowledge and certainty is a gift that is given.
  • When Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am?" and Peter answered, "You are the Christ..." Jesus pointed out the gift: "Blessed are you because no mere man could have revealed this to you."
  • What was the gift? He knew who Christ was.
  • You are rock and on this rock I will build my Church.
  • To give you this certainty -- this is what GS is for -- so that you can learn these unmistakable signs of his Presence.
Emerald Lake: our view as we sang

Fifth Point: If the witness witnesses, this is a fact.
  • This is another fact: What this thing is tells me how to be in relationship with it. [holds up a watch] If I say this watch is a flag, then sooner or later, there will be too many things that I can't account for about it. Sooner or later, I will have to acknowledge that it is not a flag, but a watch. If I persist in calling it a flag, I'm being immoral, and it's wrong, but in the end it's just a thing, and it doesn't know that I'm wronging it. But if I call Father Jose, here, a flag, if I wrong him, then that's far worse, because he knows that I'm doing it.
  • If you have had the privilege to hear a witness, that knowledge is also a gift.
  • You have to come to terms with Him.
  • If you've stayed in front of your heart, if you've said yes to x, y, z, then you must say yes to the invitation to come to terms with Him. You can say yes to get down on your knees and ask, "Come, conquer my heart today. Come, move me like you moved the witness."
  • The true protagonist, the one who brings history further, is the beggar -- Christ, who begs for your heart. Through a witness, he begs for your heart. Through the life of GS, he begs for you heart.
Some of the kids got up early on the last day to watch the sunrise and borrowed my camera to take this picture

Sixth Point: The one who says yes to the evidence of the fact of the witness, the one who says yes to the fact of the encounter, who says yes to the fact of the affirmation of your heart, says yes to Jesus, who says, "I want your heart" : What is the sign that all this has happened? How do we know? It's satisfaction.
  • The test of faith is a growing satisfaction in life, in everything. Not because everything is lovely -- to watch my brother die of cancer, to have AIDS like those women in the film we saw, to do homework... but while these things happen, You are with me and if You are with me, who can be against me? What can crush me?
  • Those who have had this experience: their faces radiate more than ours. Its a satisfaction that I don't have.
  • "I tell you, anybody who has left father, mother, brothers... for my sake will have eternal life and one hundred times more in this life." The test of faith is the hundredfold. Did I live the hundredfold today, did I see his face today?
  • The real test is satisfaction and this is identical to His Presence and our recognition of his Presence in our life.
  • If you want to follow GS, this is what matters -- your satisfaction. This affection for you, that is reignited by the affection that Christ has for you. The gift of his Presence that reawakens the affection -- this is the sign of satisfaction.

  • School of Community is the primary place where I say yes to the affection for myself -- where I begin to live this affection for myself, love myself the way he does. Where he begins to dwell in me, live in me.
  • Charitable work is the place where you learn to make a gift of yourself, rather than just worrying about what you get and what you should receive.
  • The Common fund -- here is the sign that this is what matters to me.
  • To be a presence -- to offer, to be a missionary -- to let this overflow into the way you look and understand and see when you look at other people -- this lets you change what you see.
  • To be a missionary: What you do, what you've done doesn't matter. Because every moment of my life, I could be doing anything, probably something wicked, but he comes to me and asks me what he asked Peter, "Do you love me?" And I can only answer, "Yes, Lord, I love you." To be a missionary means to look at everything through the lens of what we've met. It culminates in invitations but starts with a way of perceiving a person. This is our life.
  • Follow the people who are most alive. Deepen the relationship with the witness, so that we can get to know him and then offer to the world so that the whole world will come to know him, everyone will dance like those African women.


clairity said...

The pictures are also beautiful!

Suzanne said...

Looking at the picture of Chris, you just can't help but ask, "Who is this man???"

Marie said...


What strikes me most from what you've shared is this snippet:

(To be a missionary means to look at everything through the lens of what we've met.) It culminates in invitations but starts with a way of perceiving a person.

This thing about a way of perceiving a person as the conception-place of outreach touches on something that has been percolating in my heart about the relationships in my life.

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."