Monday, October 27, 2008

Beginning Day 2008

How did Mary Magdalen describe what it was like to have met Christ? What words could Peter use to explain to someone else what happened to him on the shore of the Sea of Galilee when Christ cooked him breakfast and asked him three times if he loved him? How did Matthew account for himself when his tax collector friends asked why he'd left the customs post?

What audacity it requires to write the words: I spent the past weekend in close, intimate contact with the Son of the Living God, and I served Him food, watched him eat it and enjoy it, sang with Him, heard Him speak, laughed with Him, was admonished by Him...

We have seen with our own eyes, touched with our hands, the Word of Life.

Not in some "mystical" way. I am not speaking of a feeling. I'm speaking of a literal fact.

How is this thing possible? What am I claiming?

The charism -- this is true for any charism, but I am speaking here of the particular charism I follow, that of Father Luigi Giussani -- is a gift of the Holy Spirit, whose function is to make Christ present, in the flesh of human persons, here and now.

How does this thing happen? What does it mean? I don't know!

Here is what I do know:

  1. I did not make it happen. I worked very hard all weekend, but not one task that I performed made this beautiful thing happen. The hard work may have been a necessary condition for me to be made able to see it happening, but my work did not make it happen.
  2. I cannot make it happen again. No scheme, no plan, no talent, no extraordinary work on my part will conjure this presence that I can touch with my hands, see with my eyes, hear with my ears.
  3. This is all I want in life.
  4. The first three points mean that I am literally reduced to begging, begging for this miracle to happen again and again in my life, in my presence, to me.
  5. I need you. He comes to us when we stay together, when we beg together. I need you. Please, come and see this beauty with me. Let us begin together this experience that is out of this world, in this world.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

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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."