Monday, October 26, 2009

"Alongside of life, always"

[After the October 25, 2009 Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

I offer a special greeting first of all to the thousands of faithful gathered in Milan, in the Piazza del Duomo, where this morning the liturgy of the beatification of the priest Don Carlo Gnocchi was celebrated. He began as a sound educator of boys and young men. In the 2nd World War he became the chaplain of the Alpini (The mountain infantry of the Italian army), with whom he participated in the tragic retreat in Russia. It was then that he dedicated himself completely to a work of charity. Thus, in Milan during reconstruction, Don Gnocchi worked to "restore the human person," gathering orphaned and mutilated boys and offering them help and formation. He gave all of himself to the very end, and dying gave his corneas to two blind boys. His work continued to develop and today the Don Gnocchi Foundation is on the cutting edge in the care of persons of every age who need rehabilitative therapy. As I greet Cardinal Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, and I rejoice with the Ambrosian Church, I make the motto of this beatification my own: "Alongside of life, always."

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

-- Reported on

...and from what Zenit reported:

Blessed Gnocchi (1902-1956) is remembered as a hero of solidarity with victims of World War II. He was called father for the mutilated and of combatants' orphans, since the center he created offered rehabilitation to those who suffered as a consequence of the war.

"Rather than a political or economic crisis, there is a profound moral crisis, more than that, a metaphysical crisis," he wrote in 1946. "As such, it affects all peoples because it touches man and his existential problem."

Father Rodolfo Cosimo Meoli, the postulator of Father Gnocchi’s cause for canonization, told ZENIT that the priest was particularly characterized by his charity.

"More than virtues, I would speak of ‘the virtue’: charity, on which all the others rested," Father Meoli said. "Also nobility, charity turned into action, tenderness, compassion, hospitality, availability."

The postulator recounted how Father Gnocchi was a volunteer chaplain during World War II.

"Then the tragic experience of the retreat from Russia matured in him the specific plan to offer assistance to orphans of the mountaineers and of many other little innocent victims of the war battles," he continued.

Father Gnocchi created a foundation in 1947 that has evolved into centers that receive patients with various disabilities, as well as patients who are in need of surgical intervention and rehabilitation, elderly people who are not self-sufficient and terminal cancer patients.

The postulator of his cause described the priest as "the modern face of sanctity."

Father Gnocchi saw his vocation "to be light and support, strength and hope for all those he met," Father Meoli said. "His life was consumed in doing good to others. He was an alter Christus, something that every priest, yesterday, today and always, is called to live."

-- reprinted from Zenit

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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."