Monday, August 31, 2009

Supreme Knight at the Meeting in Rimini

Carl Anderson's Address at Rimini Meeting

"Work to Better the Moral Compass of Business"

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 31, 2009 ( Here is the address Carl A. Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, gave last week at the Meeting of Friendship Among Peoples held in Rimini, Italy.

* * *

Two years ago, Pope Benedict invited us to live out hope "with works of charity, because hope, like faith, is demonstrated in love."

That love of neighbor, which expresses both faith and hope, is the story of the Knights of Columbus.

When the Venerable Servant of God Father Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882, he did so as a pastor, concerned about the welfare of the most marginalized.

Widows and orphans in 19th century America didn't have much of a social safety net. If a breadwinner died, his wife and children faced a life of poverty, and the likely dissolution of the family, as children would be divided up among relatives able to support them, or worse, would be sent to state institutions for the indigent... [read the rest here]

- Found on Zenit

"...Expert in love, expert in humanity."

Alessandro Meluzzi

Found on Zenit:

Book Links Mystery of Cross, Freedom, Love

Psychiatrist Explains How God is Found in Sacrifice

By Mirko Testa

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 31, 2009 ( A new book by Alessandro Meluzzi illustrates how man encounters both God and himself in the dimensions of gift and sacrifice, which are incarnated in the cross.

This book, titled "Abbracciare la Croce: Dolore, libertà e tenerezza in Dio" [Embracing the Cross: Suffering, Freedom and Tenderness in God], was presented last week at the 30th Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, sponsored by the Catholic lay Communion and Liberation movement. [the rest here (You'll have to read the rest in order to understand the title)]

“That nature which pushes us to desire great things is the heart”

That's the theme of next year's Meeting in Rimini! Read the press release here.

The internet is an enabler

From Il Sussidiario:

GOOGLE/ Susan Pointer: Knowledge is in the Google DNA

Susan Pointer is Director of Public Policy & Government Relations at Google and in this interview shares with her impressions on the Meeting of Rimini and its theme “ Knowledge is always an event”.

What in the Meeting and in its theme – “ Knowledge is always an event”- impressed you more?

What struck me immediately I walked into the venue was the energy in the conference centre - the energy from a very large and mixed group of people all coming together in one place to meet and exchange opinions and ideas.... [read the rest here]

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fr. Carron's beloved Maria Zambrano

From Zenit:

Philosophy and Poetry Meet to Contemplate Reality

Rimini Meeting Reflects on Maria Zambrano's Works

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 28, 2009 ( There were long lines of people at the entrance of the exhibition "Vocare -- Maria Zambrano, A Vocation to Knowledge," and a very crowded hall at its opening.

At the Rimini Meeting of Communion and Liberation, great interest was shown in Spaniard Maria Zambrano (1904-1991), a thinker considered in some circles on par with the her 20th-century contemporaries such as Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil and Edith Stein.

Pupil of philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, though shunning Marxism, she lived for a long time in exile from her native Spain (in Italy from 1954 to 1964) because of her opposition to the Franco regime. Returning to Spain in 1984, she won the prestigious Cervantes Award in 1988.

Innumerable are her works translated into Italian, among which is "For Love and Liberty" ("Per l'Amore e per la Liberta"), Marietti publishers, 2008.

In opening the exhibition at the Rimini Meeting on Wednesday, its creator Carmen Giussani said that "ideas do not meet, people meet" and "the exhibition has a most beautiful biographical section that enables one to know Maria Zambrano."

Giussani placed Zambrano's long life in the context of the drama of the 20th century, which also touched Spain and Europe.

The creator of the exhibition recounted that exile from Franco's Spain marked Zambrano's life intensely, specifying that her philosophy openly distanced itself from Communist Marxist thought.


In the introduction to the essay published by the Florentine Publishing Society, which runs through the exhibition, Giussani says that Zambrano supported a philosophical and artistic current known as Spanish realism, which did not simply copy reality, but rather showed an admiration for the world "without pretending to reduced it to nothing." The current expressed "being in love with the world."

Giussani also pointed out how in her works Zambrano criticized "the arrogance of modern reason, which pretends to define the real within its own limits."

"The novel and poetry are without a doubt ways of knowledge in which thought is diffused, sparse, wide, in which knowledge on essential, ultimate questions flows without being clothed in any authority, without being dogmatized," wrote Zambrano.

Maria Regina Brioschi, creator and curator of the exhibition -- together with Giussani --, which opened at the 2008 Madrid Meeting in April of that year, said that Zambrano "criticized Western philosophy that, beginning with Descartes, has ended by reducing reason to self-affirmation."

"In such a position, reason runs two risks," she added, "that of arrogance and of humiliation, which together lead to despair. This is the confusion in which 20th century man finds himself."

Father Carron on St. Paul/ At the Meeting

Priest Urges Participation in Christ

Communion and Liberation President Speaks to Rimini Crowds

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 28, 2009 ( St. Paul shows us that a real experience of Christ is needed, beyond mere knowledge, for true conversion, said the president of the lay movement, Communion and Liberation.

Father Julián Carrón affirmed this Tuesday to an audience of 20,000 gathered in Rimini for the 30th Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples sponsored by the movement.

The conference, which started Sunday and will run through Saturday, is centered around the theme: "Knowledge Is Always an Event."

Father Carrón's conference on "Event and Knowledge in St. Paul" recalled the life of Saul of Tarsus before his conversion, the change effected in him by his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, and how this encounter transformed his way of relating to reality.

The priest affirmed that for Paul "in the experience of the encounter with the Risen One, the reality of Christ becomes transparent."

He added, "In no other moment of his life were Paul's reason and freedom challenged as they were by this event."

"St. Paul's experience reveals the condition to know Christ: participation in the event which is made present in human experience," Father Carrón explained.

In this sense, he continued, Paul's case "is proof that knowledge is always an event."

Beyond reason

The priest added, "His encounter with Christ dilates his reason, called to recognize the novelty before it, as occurred with the disciples."

The movement's president stated: "Christian event and reason are not in opposition in knowledge.

"On the contrary, the Christian event frees reason from the limits to which it is normally conformed, restores its more specific dynamism: to be open to understanding the totality of reality in its radical novelty, as presence of God among men.

"The Christian event leads reason freely beyond what it could attain with its own strength."

He explained that the Apostle to the Gentiles invites us to submit reason to the lived experience so that reason will not become the criterion of judgment without experience.

The priest stated that "Paul's case is paradigmatic for any moment of history as for him, and for all men, the event of Christ remains contemporary in the life of the Church, in their historical and cultural circumstances, enabling them to live the same experience that consists in having the certainty of what is proclaimed."

Father Carrón concluded, "The only way to grow in knowledge of Christ is to accept now the participation in the event of Christ, in the power of his resurrection and in communion with his sufferings."

The priest's audience included Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Bishop Alfonso Carrasco Rouco of Lugo, Spain, Bishop Jesús Sanz Montes of Jaca, Spain, and several Italian government ministers.

- Published in Zenit, here

"...this is the real Blair speaking."

Commentary on the Meeting in Rimini, published in

WATERS/ Blair: A Passion that Cannot be Exhausted
by John Waters

At one point in Tony Blair’s speech, when he was talking about his commitment to faith as the salvation of the human condition, the woman beside me whispered: “Vittadini wrote this!” I shook my head and pointed insistently towards Tony Blair. No, I told her, this is the real Blair speaking. She shook her head, reassured but still incredulous... [read the rest here]

Harvard's Dr. Edward Green at the Meeting in Rimini...

Dr. Edward Green speaking at the Meeting in Rimini, photo by Sharon Mollerus

Scientist: Pope Was Right About AIDS

Says Abstinence, Fidelity More Effective than Condoms

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 27, 2009 ( The director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project is affirming that Benedict XVI's position was right in the debate on AIDS and condoms.

Edward Green stated this in an address at the 30th annual Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples in Rimini, sponsored by the lay movement, Communion and Liberation.

Green, an expert on AIDS prevention, said that "as a scientist he was amazed to see the closeness between what the Pope said last March in Cameroon and the results of the most recent scientific discoveries." [read the rest here]

And Sr. Edith Bogue, OSB reported in Monastic Musings Too:

In his Washington Post article, Green also commented on the straight-jacket that he and other HIV/AIDS researchers face when they question the efficacy of condom-oriented AIDS programs – which have become an ideology as much as a policy. He said,

“We liberals who work in the fields of global HIV/AIDS and family planning take terrible professional risks if we side with the pope on a divisive topic such as this. The condom has become a symbol of freedom and — along with contraception — female emancipation, so those who question condom orthodoxy are accused of being against these causes.”

Tony Blair: "It is a privilege to address the famous Rimini Meeting".

Tony Blair is the former Prime Minister of Britain

MEETING OF RIMINI/ The full text of the speech by Rt Hon Tony Blair

It is a privilege to address the famous Rimini Meeting. It is an honour to be associated with “Comunione e Liberazione.” It is a pleasure always to be in Italy. It is here in this country that I have spent many happy times; and where 30 years ago, almost to the day, I proposed to my wife and three decades and four children later, I at least am still pleased to recall the memory.

I am also, as you know, a very new entrant to the Catholic Church. I am therefore humble about addressing such an august gathering of so many eminent people. But I thank you for making me so welcome. Ever since I began preparations to become a Catholic I felt I was coming home; and this is now where my heart is, where I know I belong...

[read the rest here]

My friend Scott writes...

...over on his blog, Καθολικός διάκονος :

What happens when language prevails over reality

Oscar Giannino's response to the challenge that his approach to life was too philosophical, helped me arrive at a judgment regarding my recent re-reading of some of Samuel Beckett's works, particularly when he said that "the prevalence of language over reality, condemns culture to being merely a descriptive shelf on which the prevalence of Non-being drowns, rather than the instrument for continuous transformation based on the person who wants Being."

With these words Giannino described well my repulsive attraction to Beckett. It is my thanatos urge to wallow in contingency with no reference to transcendence. At least it consists of dismissing my desire, as in the case of Godot, seeing my longing as pointless and absurd, a distraction from really living. I think this is where Camus stands out, he takes transcendence seriously and does not dismiss it as fantasy, he wrestles with meaning... [read the rest here]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An American in Rimini

"[...] But if there was a less political, more cultural response–one that saw itself as intellectual but not esoteric, religious but not parochial, maybe an American version of the Meeting would be possible. It’s hard to imagine today, but there is no question that America would be a richer, more vibrant and more decent place as a result."

Peter Beinart in Traces Magazine, October 2000

* * *
Here is a small taste taken from the meeting:

Marco Bersonelli, moderator of the panel discussion, "Science: The Human Experience of Discovery," just one of many, many interesting presentations, discussions, talks, musical performances and art displays on offer this year at the (free) Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, held annually for thirty years and offered by the Movement of Communion and Liberation. Here is an excerpt for the press release for "Science: The Human Experience of Discovery":

The encounter of the 26th at 5pm in the Auditorium B7 is an exceptional occasion. The speakers that discuss about the topic of knowledge in the field of science, are two Nobel prizes for physics, the 2006 John Mather, senior astrophysicist at the observational Cosmology Laboratory of Nasa's goddard Space Flight center, and the 1964 Nobel Charles Townes, professor at the Sapce Science laboratory of the University of California Berkeley, and also the great paleoanthropologist Yves Coppens, professor emeritus at the Collège de France.

“We are not here to speak abstractly – the moderator Marco Bersanelli, professor of astrophysics enters immediately into the topic – instead we want to see from inside which kind of size of reason a scientific discovery requires and we want to discover it through the testimony of who lives it personally”. “What is the contents of your discoveries – Bersanelli asks to the three scientists – what happened and which factors have let you to make them?”.

Coppens, the discoverer of Lucy, the famous skeleton of hominid found in Ethiopia in the 1974, tells his experience: “The discovery of Lucy has came through a long series of events, or better, an event in series”. That is his narration of the founding of the first bones, day after day, until the unexpected discovery. “After that we have found 52 bones we have thought that, for the first time, they could belong to the same skeleton, an hominid lived 3,2 millions of years ago. Then – Coppens continues – the founding of the emibasin, that has made us to hypothesize that it was a girl, the study of the weigh, of articulations and of her plausible behaviors. From an event to another everyday we have discovered something new” [...] Read the rest here: Science the Human Experience of Discovery

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"the price American Catholicism had paid..."

Mary Ann Glendon at the Meeting in Rimini, photo by Sharon Mollerus

MEETING in RIMINI/ A formula for America

mercoledì 26 agosto 2009

I first heard about the Meeting in Rimini from Sister Carol Keehan, who was at that time (around 1994) president of Providence Hospital in Washington, DC. I had suggested her name to the Meeting authorities as an expert in non-profit institutions and she was consequently invited to make a presentation at the Meeting. It was shortly after Msgr. Giussani had asked me whether I would help him in his efforts to “firmly plant Communion and Liberation on the American soil.” Upon her return she told me that she had never seen anything like it in the United States, and in fact wondered whether there could ever be an “American Meeting” but that we should try to make it possible some day.

Sister Carol never told me why she thought it would be so difficult to have something like the Meeting in America. She just said that she found it difficult to find the words to describe her own experience.

On the following year I attended the Meeting for the first time. It seemed to me that the difficulty for a similar encounter in the United States was actually the price American Catholicism had paid to be accepted as compatible with American culture, especially its view of religious liberty. In order to be accepted as part of the American religious landscape, the Catholic Church had obscured that which distinguished Catholicism as totally different from other religious traditions. Before something like an “American Meeting” could take place, it would be necessary to educate American Catholics to understand the relation between faith, reason, and experience that had given birth to the meeting in Rimini.

On August 25, 2000 I invited two prominent American liberals to participate in the Meeting in an “Encounter with American Liberalism.” The two were Peter Beinart, at the time the editor of The New Republic, America’s most respected magazine of American liberal thought, and university professor Peter Berkowitz who was working on a book on Christianity and American liberalism. Both Beinart and Berkowitz are Jews. Beinart accepted the invitation to describe their experience at the Meeting in an article for Traces in which he explained why he thought it was difficult to imagine an “American Meeting.”

According to Beinart, the Meeting had three dimensions that in America were in fact experienced as incompatible. The Rimini Meeting was like a meeting of the “Christian Coalition,:” whose approach to faith and culture was defined by evangelical Protestantism. Rimini was also an uncompromising expression of Christian faith, but unlike evangelical Protestantism, this was not a defensive faith, but one apparently not afraid to be open to all authentic human experiences. As Berkowitz had told me, this was a Christianity not seen in America.

So much was this the case that the Meeting at times seemed like a meeting in America of The Modern Language Association, an organization diametrically opposed to any expression of faith. Like the Rimini Meeting, he said, this Association is known for its insistence on intellectual seriousness, so much so that Americans liberals outside the academic establishment often found it difficult to understand what they were talking about at their meetings!

Finally, Beinart wrote, the Rimini Meeting reminded him of the Epcot Center at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, featuring exhibits about all the countries of the world and the inventions of the future. Rimini was like Epcot in that it also was a “mass event” not associated with any side of the culture war.

The path to an American Rimini requires a method that will eliminate the incompatibility between these three dimensions: faith, intellectual rigor, and an orientation towards a truly human future. If this happens, he said, an American Meeting would make America a “richer, more vibrant, and more decent place as a result.”

Nine years later this has been happening in the United States, especially through the experience of our Crossroad cultural centers. This year in Rimini the presentation on America might well be called “An Encounter with American Conservatism.” If the participants have the same experience as the American Liberals, the “Rimini method” would have begun to bear fruit in the United States.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Something more about our Pope and the Rimini Meeting...

Inside the auditorium

Pontiff Sends Message to Rimini Meeting

30th Year for Communion and Liberation Event

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 23, 2009 - Benedict XVI has sent a message to the 30th Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, alluding to the theme of the gathering by affirming that an encounter with Christ is an "event" that creates communion.

The papal message, sent by the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was read at today's opening Mass of the week-long conference, sponsored by the Catholic lay Communion and Liberation movement. Some 700,000 people are attending, reflecting on the spiritual heritage left by the movement's founder, Monsignor Luigi Giussani.

This year's theme is "Knowledge Is Always an Event." The papal message echoed that idea, recalling that "'event' is a word with which Don Giussani tried to re-explain the very nature of Christianity, which for him is an 'encounter,' that is, an experiential fact of knowledge and communion."

The Pontiff relates the words "event" and "encounter" to explain how knowledge is gained, and particularly, knowledge of God.

"It can be asked if there is knowledge more necessary for man that that of the knowledge of his Creator; if there is a knowledge described more adequately by the word 'encounter' than that of the fundamental relationship that exists precisely between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God," he wrote.

The fathers of the Church, the papal message continues, insisted "on the need to purify the eyes of the soul to be able to see God, inspired in the Gospel Beatitude: 'Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.'"

"Man's reason can only be exercised, and thus reach its true goal -- knowledge of the truth and of God -- thanks to a purified heart that sincerely loves the truth it seeks," the note added. "Purified in this way, the human spirit can open itself to the revelation of the truth."

Through his message, Benedict XVI called participants in the Rimini Meeting to "go with confidence to the Lord, welcoming his mysterious presence, which is the fountain of truth and love for man and for society."

According to its organizers, the Rimini meeting seeks to "create points of contact between experiences and people of different faiths and cultures who share a positive desire for knowledge and reciprocal enhancement."

Among the speakers this year are Tony Blair, former British prime minister; Jeb Bush, former Florida governor; Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid and president of the Spanish episcopal conference; John Milbank, writer and professor from the University of Nottingham; and Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.

(From Zenit)

At the End of the Angelus

Today the 30th edition of the "Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples" has opened in Rimini, [Italy], taking as its title "Knowledge Is Always an Event." In addressing a cordial greeting to those who are taking part in this significant gathering, I hope that it will be a propitious occasion for understanding that "[k]nowing is not simply a material act, since ... [i]n all knowledge and in every act of love the human soul experiences something ‘over and above,' which seems very much like a gift that we receive, or a height to which we are raised" ("Caritas in Veritate," No. 77).

Pope Benedict, Castel Gandolfo, August 23, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Monsignor Albacete on Health Care Reform...

From Il Sussidiario:

HEALTH CARE REFORM/ Albacete: my real position on Obama's proposals

mercoledì 12 agosto 2009

This week I have decided to interview myself.

Question: Some people have quoted yourlast column to show that you oppose President Obama’s health-care proposals. Is this a correct interpretation of your position?

ALBACETE: No. I do not support or oppose Obama’s proposals. I am waiting for the politicians to finish their compromises and will then judge the final bill. I understand it will be the result of bringing together three bills passed by committees in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate.

Question: Do you think there should be a bill? Do you support health-care reform?

ALBACETE: Oh yes indeed! My own health insurance situation is woefully inadequate for my situation, so I am motivated by self-interest (not selfish, I hope!). Furthermore, as a Catholic, I believe the right to adequate health-care protection is a natural right. You can look it up in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. It is the duty of the State to recognize this and do all it can do to create conditions that recognize this right. The State doesn’t grant this right; it recognizes and protects it.

Question: Do most Americans recognize the right to an adequate health-care program as a natural right?

ALBACETE: I think most Americans do so deep in their hearts, and that is why I think most favor some reform of the present system. The problem, however, is that most Americans are skeptical (and rightly so!) about the way the powerful State uses this terminology to impose ideological solutions. That is why it is so crucial to understand correctly the reality of subsidiarity as the Church understands it.

Question: But doesn’t the Church’s social doctrine come from her faith? How can we convince those who do not share the Catholic faith?

ALBACETE: This is indeed the crucial question. The important point is that faith is a way of knowing Reality, that is, the Reality that impacts on the lives of all human persons, not only those with faith. There is nothing we can do to give faith to ourselves or to others, but we can give witness to the Reality that faith allows us to grasp. The question is whether what we witness to can be grasped by those without faith.

Question: Can it be grasped by those without faith?

ALBACETE: I believe that the answer is yes. Faith is the recognition of the presence of Christ and the Life he offers to us. Desire for this Life is engraved in the very structure of our humanity. It is a destiny objectively written into our lives as a desire for infinity. It is this desire, an experience available to all who do not suppress it, that reveals what is “natural” to our humanity as such. Faith is reasonable, as long as we do not narrow the open horizon of reason. It is to this experience of a desire for infinity that we appeal when we offer the witness of what we have grasped through faith. The Second Vatican Council taught us that “Christ reveals man to man” (GS 22), so from our faith in Christ we learn the truth of what makes us human persons, and it is to this truth that we witness to all, asking them to look for it in their own experience of what would satisfy their thirst for happiness. This is how all can discover what it means to say that a given right is a natural right, which must be respected and promoted by the State that serves the common good,

Question: Why do you say this is a privileged moment for those Catholics who advise or support Obama?

ALBACETE: The President is not a Catholic, so he is a kind of “relativist by default,” looking for a certainty compatible with this relativism. The Catholics at his side, I believe, have the opportunity to witness how certainty does not mean intolerance nor an appreciation of diversity. This is provided, of course, that they themselves have had this experience of faith as a way of knowing Reality, in this case the Reality of the dignity of all human persons from the first moment of their existence.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Julian Carron in the news...

Found at Whispers in the Loggia:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fides, Ratio... et Cielini

As previously noted, the head of Comunione e Liberazione Fr Julian Carrón made his first major US appearance at a Sunday conference at NYU.

Quoting de Tocqueville, Giussani and (CL über-disciple) Papa Ratzi, the fulltext of Carrón's remarks have been released by the movement.

With the topic "Can Faith Broaden Reason?" the conference's discussion took its launch-pad from a posthumously-released work of the cielini founder -- a friend and confidant of three Popes -- titled Is It Possible to Live This Way?

First I would like to put Giussani’s book into the context of the present situation. This situation can be characterised by two things.

First of all, the reduction of religion to feeling and ethics. For a majority of people religion has nothing to do with reality. Religion has to do with a nebulous feeling in relationship with the divine. Such a feeling is difficult to identify, because what I feel in front of the Mystery is not easy to grasp and one person might have it and another might not. Therefore for a majority of people religion has nothing to do with the knowledge of reality. For them religion is not related with reason.

This can explain the second characteristic of the present situation, which is confusion. The modern world had surrendered regarding the possibility of knowing. This can seem strange at a time when science prevails. But this negative attitude with regard to knowledge and a high emphasis of science are not contradictory. Recently the Pope spoke about the resignation of western civilisation before reality.
“Our faith opposes decisively the resignation that considers man incapable of truth, as if this would be too much for him. This resignation before the truth is, in my opinion, the nucleus of the Western crisis. If there is no truth, man is incapable of distinguishing between good and evil”.
What this resignation means has been clarified last Thursday by the same Benedict XVI in his talk to the Sapienza University of Rome:
“The danger facing the Western world ... is that man today, precisely because of the immensity of his knowledge and power, surrenders before the question of truth. This means that, in the end, reason gives way before the pressure of other interests and the lure of efficiency, and is forced to recognise this as the ultimate criterion”.
The result is confusion.

In this state of affairs religion is thrown outside of reality. It is considered a phenomenon nearer to a virtual world than to the real one. Consequently for many people faith is like believing in ghosts.

When Giussani wrote this book, the situation was not yet as clear as it is for us now, but his genius could recognise the signs of the times, and now we are living through these times. For this reason this book can give us an amazing insight into an understanding of the context in which we are called to live our Christian faith and how to face it....

Religion, reality and reason are inseparable. These things illuminate each other reciprocally. In his lecture at the University of Regensburg, Pope Benedict XVI challenged everyone to a “broadening of our concept of reason and its application. ”What does it mean to broaden reason? It means nothing other than living religion, that is, recognizing the Mystery in reality. What is religion? It is the apex of reason. Therefore, reason does not fulfill its true nature as reason if it does not open itself to religion; and religion remains a mere sentiment unless it coincides with our rational nature. John Paul II said so in an interview quoted in Fides et Ratio:
“When the why of things is investigated with integrity, seeking the totality, in the search for the ultimate and most complete answer, then human reason touches its apex and opens to religion. In effect, religiosity represents the most elevated expression of the human person, because it is the culmination of his rational nature.”
This is what prevents us from reducing reason and religion to any of the number of reductions in use among us, in our culture, that influence us as well.

Christian faith has to do with reality. The claims of Christian faith is that the divine, the Mystery became man. In Jesus of Nazareth “the mystery which was kept secret for long ages – says Saint Paul – … is now disclosed and … is made known to all nations” (Rm 16: 25). Because of this reason has to do with a real person whom we can know. This is the conviction that all Christians recognise in the words of the Apostle John:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1: 4)....
How can we know Christ? Among the two methods used by reason we had hinted at, the only one that applies is faith. We do not know Christ directly, neither by evidence, nor by analysis of our experience. The only method which allows us to know Christ is through a witness that makes him present now. “Christ’s relevance [contemporaneousness] for people of all times is shown forth in his body, which is the Church.” It is Christ’s contemporaneousness, his presence to us today, that allows me to verify the truth of the Christian claim. This is the only hypothesis faithful to the nature of the Christian event as we can recognise it in history.

If we look at the first time in history, in the chronological sense, when was the problem of Christ first posed?
“The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.” (John 1: 36-38)
For the first two that followed Jesus, John and Andrew, what is the first characteristic of the faith that they had in Jesus? The first characteristic is a fact! It is a fact that had the characteristic of an encounter. “The encounter with an objective event, absolutely independent of the person who has the encounter”. The first characteristic of the Christian faith is that it starts off from a fact, a fact that has the form of an encounter.

What is the second characteristic? The second characteristic is the exceptional nature of the fact. When can we call something exceptional? Something is exceptional when it corresponds to the deepest needs of our heart. To find an exceptional man means to find a man who brings about a correspondence with what you are longing for, with the need for justice, truth, happiness, love. Something truly exceptional is something divine: it has something divine in it. If not, it doesn’t really bring us to God. “Exceptional” is synonymous with the word “divine”.

Andrei Tarkovsky, the famous Russian film-maker, made one of his characters in the movie “Andrei Rublev” say: “You know very well, you can’t manage one thing, you are tired, you are exhausted, and at a moment you meet among the people the gaze of somebody, somebody’s gaze, and it is as if you approach the hidden divine, and everything becomes easier”.

The third characteristic is wonder. His first two followers, John and Andrew, became friends of Jesus and started to see Jesus’ miracles. Let us imagine people who are witnesses of these things for days, weeks, months and years. Little by little they became more and more aware of the uniqueness of this man and they cannot avoid asking the question: “Who is He?”

This is the fourth factor. Christian faith begins precisely with this question: “Who is He?”

Last point: Responsibility before the fact. A fact which challenges reason and freedom.

To summarize: an encounter – strikes me in its exceptionality – solicits wonder – provokes the question “who is He?” – and challenges my reason and freedom.

I said that faith is a form of knowledge that is beyond the limits of reason. Why is it beyond the limits of reason? Because it grasps something that reason cannot grasp: reason cannot perceive “the presence of Jesus among us”, “Christ is here now”, – reason cannot grasp this in the manner in which faith is capable of. Reason cannot not admit that He is here. Why? Because there is a factor here within that decides about this companionship, certain results of this companionship, certain resonances in this companionship, a factor so surprising that if I don’t affirm something other, I don’t give reason to the experience, because reason is to affirm experiential reality according to all the factors that make it up, all the factors. For example, we who fill this room right now come from completely different places and backgrounds; we have quite different temperaments and sensitivities. The fact that we are here now cannot be adequately accounted for if we overlooked the fact that we were all moved by someone who made himself present in our lives and who is present among us now.

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."