How a movement is born - OTHER DOCUMENTS

How a movement is born

Luigi Giussani Covara, Italy, August 1989


How is a movement born? To tell the truth, I am a bit embarrassed in answering this question, because an account of what went into the creation of and what continues to underlie an experience like ours has already been related and published. But it is also true that one can always speak about what one loves: even when you repeat yourself, new things emerge from what you say - because a true heart is always new.

How is a movement born? How is a Christian experience born? From a testimony, through a gift of the Spirit -but I'll speak in greater depth about these points later on. Ever since the weekly Il Sabato [founded by Communion and Liberation] began to introduce an extraordinarily interesting and original cultural debate in Italy, the most influential organs of the Italian press have tried to keep pace, publishing from time to time the thoughts of some great or so-considered Italian writer. This occurred again recently when a daily newspaper with a large national circulation published a profile of Andrea Emo, describing him as a great but neglected thinker. The paper published a number of excerpts from his writings, among which was the following: "The Church was for many centuries the protagonist of history; then it took on the no less glorious role of the antagonist of history. Today it is merely the courtesan of history." Here is the point: we do not want to live the Church as the "courtesan of history." Why not? Because if God has come into the world, it is not to be a courtesan, but rather our redeemer and savior, the focus of our total affection, the truth of man. And this is the passion that torments us and determines our every move, even in political matters. We can make mistakes in the event of a decision, obviously, but the only aim we strive for is this: that the Church should not be the courtesan, but the protagonist of history. This immanence of the Church in history starts from me, from you, wherever I am, wherever you are. In one of the Pope's talks to young people in Scandinavia [in June 1988], the Pope uses a phrase which sums up the entire content of our message to ourselves and thus to others.We want to shout it to the world: "Like all the young people of the world, you are in search of what is important and central in life," the Pope said. "Even though some of you live far from metropolitan canters and a few may also be far from having faith and trust in God, you have come here because you are seeking something important upon which to base your lives. You want to put down strong roots and you perceive that religious faith is an important part of the full life that you desire. Permit me to tell you that I understand your problems and your hopes. For this reason, young friends, I want to speak to you today about the peace and joy that may be found, not in possessing, but in being. And being is affirmed through knowing a Person and through living according to his teaching. This person is named Jesus Christ, our Lord and Friend. He is the canter, the focal point, He who unites everything in love." I would like to repeat: "We know nothing other than this."How did this truth appear to me on the horizon in such a way that it suddenly and unexpectedly embraced my life? I was a young seminarian, in Milan, a good, obedient, exemplary boy. But, if I remember correctly what Concetto Marchesi says in his study of Latin literature, "art needs men who are moved, not men who are devout." Art, that is, life it is to be creative, or indeed if it is to be "alive"-needs men who are moved, not pious. And I had been a very devout seminarian, with the exception of a parenthesis during which the poet Leopardi, for a month, gripped my attention more than Our Lord. Camus says in his Notebooks: "It is not by means of scruples that man will become great; greatness comes through the grace of God, like a beautiful day." For me, everything happened like the surprise of a "beautiful day," when one of my secondary school teachers was then 15 years old - read and explained to us the prologue of the Gospel of St. John. At that time in the seminary, it was obligatory to read that prologue at the end of every Mass. I had therefore heard it thousands of times, but the "beautiful day" came. For this reason, truly, "everything is grace," as Adrienne Von Speyr said. And I would like to recall another of her thoughts: "Grace overwhelms us," she said. "That is its essence." Grace is the Mystery which communicates itself. The essence of the Mystery's communication, just as the nature of this table is to be of wood, is that it overwhelms us, fills us. Adrienne Von Speyr goes on: "Grace does not illuminate point by point, but irradiates like the sun. The man upon whom God lavishes himself ought to be seized by vertigo in such a way that he sees only the light of God and no longer his own limits, his own weakness." For this reason, the attitude of being scandalized by the enthusiasm of young people is ignoble in the extreme. Von Speyr continues: "The person who sees only the light of God should renounce every equilibrium" (sought by himself), "he should give up the idea of a dialogue between himself and God as between two partners and become a simple receiver with arms spread wide yet unable to grasp, because the light runs through everything and remains untouchable, representing much more that our own effort could receive."
Forty years later, reading this passage from Von Speyr I understood what had happened to me then, when my teacher spoke of the Word which was made flesh. "The Word of God, or rather that of which everything was made, was made flesh," she said. "And therefore Beauty was made flesh, Goodness was made flesh, Justice was made flesh, Love, Life, Truth were made flesh." Being does not exist in a Platonic nowhere; it became flesh, it is one among us. And then I recalled a poem by the poet Leopardi, a poem I had studied during that month of "escape" in my third year of high school, entitled: "To His Lady." It was a hymn not to one of Leopardi's many "loves," but to the discovery that he had unexpectedly made, in that vertex of his life from which he would later decline, that what he had been seeking in the lady he loved was something beyond her. Thus Leopardi wrote his beautiful poem to Woman, not to a woman, but to Woman, and it ends with this passionate invocation: "If you, my love, are one / Of those undying forms the eternal mind / Will not transform to mortal flesh, to try funereal sorrows of ephemeral beings; / Or if you dwell in one / of those innumerable worlds far off / In the celestial swirl, / Lit by a sun more stunning than our own, / And if you breathe a kinder air than ours, / Then from this meager earth, / Where years are brief and dark, / This hymn your unknown lover sings, accept."And in that instant I thought how it seemed to be a prophecy, 1,800 years on, a prophecy that had already been realized by the proclamation of John the Baptist: "The Word was made flesh." Not only had Being (Beauty, Truth) not disdained to clothe its perfection in flesh, and not only had it not disdained to bear the toils of this human life but it had come to die for man. "He came to his own and his own received him not"; he knocked on the door of his own home and he was not recognized.That is the whole story. My life has been shaped by that memory, both because it has continually influenced my thought and because it has served as a stimulus to make me reevaluate the banality of everyday life, because the present moment, from then on, was no longer banal for me. Everything that existed - and therefore everything that was beautiful, true, attractive, fascinating, even if only as a possibility - found in that message its reason for being, as a certainty of presence and living hope which caused one to love everything. On my desk at that time I had a picture of Christ by a second-rank Italian painter named Carracci. Beneath the picture I had written a phrase from Mohler, the famous precursor of ecumenism whose Symbolica and other writings I had read at school: "I think that I could no longer live if I no longer heard Him speak." Now, when I make my examination of conscience, I am compelled to beg Christ's mercy, through the compassion of Mary, to enable me to return to the simplicity and courage of that time, because when such a "beautiful day" comes to pass and one unexpectedly sees something of extraordinary beauty, one cannot help but speak about it to one's friends. One cannot help but begin to cry out: "Look there." And thus it was.Some of the students a the seminary who sat' near me in our large classes (we were very numerous) this experience with me. So a small group began to take form - because the same law is always at work: a few grow closer, feel an affinity with your vision, with your heart, with your life. And so the first true core of the Movement, which we called Studium Christi at the time, was born. Each month - later every two weeks- we put together a kind of mimeographed sheet entitled Christus. Each member of our group wrote about their own personal experiences of how Christ related to something that interested him: studies, current events, other things. But another group of fellow students made fun of our efforts. This group began to hold meetings and took the name Studium Diaboli. Man is capable of anything in his freedom. Then, a year and a half later, the rector of the seminary, who later became the cardinal of Milan, asked to see me. "What you are doing a wonderful thing," he said. "But it is dividing the class and you must discontinue it." When the rector later became bishop of Milan, he still used to talk about a certain incident that happened at the seminary, exaggerating a bit, as he was inclined to do. It took place one evening in winter. The way he recounted it, the seminarians were entering the refectory en masse and he was walking behind me. I wasn't aware that he was there and he heard me say to another seminarian: "The rector has killed Christ for us." To tell the truth, I do not recall having said it. In any case, these are things one cannot stop, and the seed which I have described animated our friendship throughout our years in the seminary. It determined our choice of authors to read and, in the final analysis determined which authors became our favorites. Thus is those years we read, for example, Moeller, Soloviev, Newman, understanding what we could. In this way we made our study of theology come alive. It certainly did not remain fossilized doctrine for us.
After about a decade of various experiences, while I was teaching at the same theological seminary, I met a group of students on the train to Rimini. I began to talk about Christianity with them. They were so unaware of the most elementary things, and so indifferent to them, that I felt an uncontrollable desire to share my experience with them. I wanted them to have. as I had had, the experience of the "beautiful day." After that meeting I left my position at the seminary, in agreement with the rector. I was in fact. spending more time with young people than preparing my lectures. I began to teach religion in Italy's secondary schools.I still remember perfectly the day, so important for my life, when I walked up the four steps to the school's entrance for the first time. I was saying to myself: "I am coming here to give to these young people what was given to me." I say this because that was the only reason I have done what I have done and why I will continue to do it as long as God allows me to: that they should know Him. There is nothing more unjust in the world than that He not be known - that God became man, that he came unto his own and his own people should have not known him. It is the worst sin."Christ - center of the world and of history." When I heard John Paul 11 in his first address use this phrase which - and my friends of the time can bear witness to the fact - had been from the beginning precisely the one we used regularly for meditation, literally the same phrase - I felt an emotion that brought back all the memories of the discussions and debates I had held with the school's young people and which they had held between themselves and I remembered the profound tension with which we gathered together in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. I always used to say the young people: "Come and see," or " You will see greater things than this," as Jesus says in the Gospels. Or, as the prayer during Mass says, "May your Church be made manifest to the world," that she be made visible"; or "God, Glory of His people." And I then I would ask: "But what is the meaning of 'God, Glory of His people,' for example, if not the transformation that Christ produces in the individual and in society through the mystery of His permanence in the Church?" This transformation is the miracle which gives glory. This is what we have been asking of God for so many years, only this: that Christ help us to live the Church in such a way that, even through our lives, our action, our fellowship, our projects, He may appear ever more in the world to the men and women chosen by the mystery of the Father, that the glory of God can thus appear ever more clearly through a following of Christ that changes our lives, and the life of the world, by transfiguring them. This is the sole reason we came together and will continue to come together, for as long as God wills. When I first began to teach religion, I would ask the students I passed on the steps - students I didn't know: "Do you think Christianity is present here at the school?" And they all used to look at me surprised and laugh, and some would say, "No way!" So I'd answer: "In that case, either faith in Christ isn't true, or a new way of believing is needed." This was the way our discussions began, starting with the premise that Christ was the canter of the cosmos and of history, the skeleton key to unlock knowledge of man and the world, the source of a possible peace for the individual heart and for society, the source of unknown and unique impulses of the emotions, like the emotion Socrates describes when he suddenly interrupts his talk and says (to Plato and his other listeners): "is it perhaps not true, my friends, that when we speak of truth we even forget about women?" Young people slowly became attracted to the debates we were holding, showing their curiosity, anger and affection. These became the most talked about subject in the school during the 12 years I served there as a religion teacher. The daily subject of the students' ferocious discussions was Christ and the Church. I used to ask the young people (and still ask the question now): "What alternative do we have, in fact? The political alternative? On this point, Camus again has something to say in his Notebooks, written in 1953. Speaking about the political left, which at that time was the symbol of reform and honesty in politics, Camus said: "What the left approves of is done without a word being said, or else it is judged inevitable. This includes: 1. the deportation of thousands of Greek children. 2. The physical destruction of the Russian peasant class. 3. The millions in concentration camps. 4. Imprisonment for political reasons. 5. Daily political executions. 6. Anti-Semitism. 7. Stupidity. 8. Cruelty. The list could go on." But this list is sufficient for me. I don't mean to be pessimistic, but it is difficult not to view contemporary politics within this framework.Then I would ask the students: "Is there another area of hope, more serious than politics, more able to succeed? Is it science?" Thirty years ago, "science" was a word one hundred times more divine than it is today. If only we could have heard the words of John Paul II back then, when he said years later: "The science of totality (because it is not science if it does not claim to confront and deal with the total horizon) leads spontaneously (by its very nature) to the question of totality itself; a question that does not find its answer within such a totality (passion for the whole horizon leads to the question about the meaning of the horizon, but within the total/ horizon no answer may be found)." The development of our interest in life in all of its aspects had, and continues to have, His presence as its reference point: "We believe in Christ who had died and is risen. Christ present here and now." This interest has always led us to become involved in politics in the light of our total acceptance of Christ. We were perfectly aware, however, that salvation cannot come from politics. This in turn led us to a passionate involvement in studies and in scientific fields, not out of a kind of idolatry or in order to advance professionally, but out of a growing seriousness which ultimately has its center in Christ. Our experience of His presence generated a passion for social and political life and a passion for knowledge. Our movement's "Meeting" in Rimini (Italy), even if only tentatively, but with determination and passion, was born from this double interest, that is, from the root that created this double interest.
St. Augustine in his Contra arianos wrote: "This is the horrible root of your error: you claim that the gift of Christ consists in his example" (everyone, even those who write in Italy's left-leaning newspapers, speak reverently about Christ, of moral values, indeed, they teach and preach to Christians that they must follow moral values for the good of the State) awhile the gift is His very person." It is His presence. This is the new thing in the world and there will not be anything new that is more new than this, ever. In one of his poems, Milosz writes: "I am only a man, therefore I need sensible signs; constructing ladders of abstractions tires me quickly. Grant oh God, therefore, a man in any place whatsoever on earth and permit me to admire you by looking upon him." Christ is the answer to this prayer. Christ's incarnation meets the needs of man's nature. It corresponds in an unimaginable way to a sensible need, to the need of a living and passionate man.In his inaugural sermon, the new archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Meisner, poses a question which I would like to turn to now: "The eternal word of the Father was made flesh. And now, in the Church, he can be heard and touched by all men." But what is the Church made of? Of you, of me. This was the sudden discovery I made that month of October when I began to teach religion. If God has become man and he is here and communicates himself to us, you and I consist of one and the same thing. Between you and me, strangers, the strangeness has been lifted. St. Paul called it the enmity; we are now friends. I would say to the students: "You have been together in the same classes for five years, sitting in desks next to one another. You share the same experiences, but you do not share friendship. You go on vacations together, you study together, you have fun together but you are not friends. You are temporary companions; there is nothing between you that is enduring. None of you is interested in the destiny of the other." I said this to make the point that Christ is present in us precisely in our unity. This is the unity which he brings us into through the act by which he seizes us: the sacrament of baptism. (When the Synod on the Laity was recently held, there was almost no one mention of baptism). When Christ seizes us in baptism he places us together as members of the same body. On this is point one should re-read chapters 1 to 4 of the Letter to the Ephesians. Christ is thus present here and now -in me, through me. The first expression of the change brought about by His presence brings is I recognize that I am united to you, and that we are one and the same thing.Chapter 3 of the Letter to the Galatians contains another passage we always quote in our community: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you all are one in Christ Jesus." Whatever utopia man may have created, he has never even dreamed of what Christ has created between you and me. If you accept this, act, and our life becomes more human. The other Gospel phrase which I used to challenge the students with when I entered the school - a phrase I used every hour I taught - was: "He who follows me will have eternal life and a hundred-fold here below." This is a phrase I still use today. "The phrase 'He who follows me will have eternal life,' may perhaps not interest you," I used to say, but the second phrase cannot help but interest you: you will have a hundred-fold here below.' According to this, you will live a hundred times better your love for your girlfriend, your love for your father and mother, you will have a hundred times more passion for study, you will love work, enjoy nature." This is precisely what Milosz needed: to encounter someone who could be seen and touched, someone who enables us to experience life one hundred-fold: "Create therefore a man in some place on this earth and grant that by looking upon him I may admire You." This is Christ for man. Christ is in you and in me, and that is a tremendous thing (tremendum mysterium); it is the source of our responsibility and of our humility, something we must inevitably confront because we are the physical sign of His presence. There were 15 of us when I used to say that our community is the real sign- even if temporary, provisional, laughable but great - by which He becomes the object of a present experience. From that originally group of 15, we eventually became a group of about 300. But the number doesn't matter. After 12 years there might only have been just three of us, or two. This is the meaning of marriage: marriage is, and ought to be, a sign for the community because one discovers in it a union not born of flesh and blood, but of Christ. The community infinitely widened, is the Mystery through which I can truly say with fear and trembling and love: "You." My discovery of this came at a certain meeting held on the [Ligurian] sea coast, at the top of a tower, in Varigotti.Memory is the consciousness of a presence that has begun and lasts. Memory is the consciousness of His presence. Our great writer in the period after the Second World War, Pavese, used to say: "Memory is a passion repeated." We have this passion for Christ repeated because there is, unfortunately, no uninterrupted continuity in us. Pavese also says: "Poetry, that is, the cosmic dignity of the particular, is born from the moments in which we lift up our heads and discover -with stupor - life." This is the sign of the divine: the possibility of exalting the particular moment. Pavese continues: "Even normality becomes poetry when one reflects, that is, when normality ceases to be normality and becomes prodigy"-mystery that is present and acting. Another of Pavese's phrases: "The richness of a work is always revealed by the quantity of the past it contains." This word "work" can be taken in the sense of the accomplishment of a generation, or our life as generation. The "past" here refers to something that can exist in the present, going beyond it, transcending it. The "past" in this sense is more powerful in the present than as a recollection, because recollection flattens experience, making it like a worn-out garment. Memory is a past that becomes so present that it determines the present more than any other present. Memory has become the capital word of our community. Live the memory. The community is the place where one lives the memory.
I would like to detail some aspects of this community life. I have not yet used this word because it indicates a fellowship that is not born of the flesh or blood but from Christ, whose life is the memory. As St. Catherine of Siena said: "Memory has been filled with blood." Our memory is filled with the blood of the cross and of the glory of the resurrection, for Christ cannot now be conceived of as dead without the resurrection. This is why Claudel said, correctly: "Peace is made of equal parts of sorrow and joy." And peace is the heredity that Christ has left us as the sign of his active and working presence.Above all the life of our community has never suppressed the sense of the drama of individual lives; it has not forced anyone to conform to a certain kind of behavior. It has always been a passionate proposal but we are well aware of the effort which must be made by those who have received the call. Certainly the truth bears witness to itself: Christ's message is so much in keeping with what man longs for that the individual who hears it cannot help but be struck by it. But immediately afterward a resistance arises. This is why I used to say to the young people in class "As I speak to you, you seem interested and you faces say unequivocally, That's true, that's the way it is.' But afterward something diabolical, original sin, fills you with 'but,' with 'if,' with 'perhaps,' with 'however,' with who knows,' that is with skepticism. This skepticism makes you try to escape from the truth that has flashed over you." When this resistance arises, a the drama of a struggle begins. The struggle the individual undergoes does not consist at all in an hysterical exasperation; rather, it involves saying "You" with an awareness of the difference and of the journey that must be made. Every human relationship is filled with drama - no really human relationship exists that is not. This fact touches its deepest roots with Christ."First my will and then my intelligence resisted for a long time, but in the end I surrendered and I won," a Lithuanian dissident has written. The will is where resistance is especially found; the victor is the one who affirms himself. This surrender is "not a capitulation in the face of the adversary" but "a reconciliation with the Father (with the origin of oneself). "His possession of me is my liberation." In The Religious Sense, a book containing my notes from my first years at the school, I developed this idea of the identification between being possessed and being free. After only a year, with the students in my secondary school classes, we printed an anthology of Dionysius the Areopagite, with the Greek text facing the Italian, that contained one of the most beautiful phrases I have ever read: "Who could ever speak of love to the man possessed by Christ, overflowing with peace?" This is what I meant by my phrase, "His possession of me is my liberation "When I saw the human drama being lived by these young people - there were several hundred of us who would get together to discuss things from morning to night, even outside school hour - I understood for the first time, after all my years in seminary, what it meant to ask. I understood that the supreme expression of man is the most elementary and that man can carry it out no matter what condition he is in - even the atheist. Indeed, the more one senses the difficulty the more the process of asking suits him. In the famous Italian novel I Promessi Sposi the atheist - the Unnamed - says: "God, if you exist, reveal yourself to me." I used to comment on this in school: Tell me if there is anything more rational than this: 'If you exist' involves the category of possibility; 'reveal yourself to me' involves the question." We will all be judged according to whether we questioned, because even in the lion's den or buried in a coffin, surrounded by mud, we can cry out, we can ask. During Holy Week, the Ambrosian liturgy suggests a moving form of this questioning (and thus reveals the Church's astonishing tenderness): "Even if I am late, do not close your door. I have come to knock. To one who seeks you in weeping, open the door, merciful Lord; receive me in your dwelling give me the bread of the Kingdom." I never said to the first young people who met together: "Pray." All those who came, even if they didn't directly participate in the discussions, participated in the gesture of prayer. After a little while all began to take daily communion. I used to say to them that the sacrament is the greatest prayer, the essence of prayer, because it is the demand of an of one's own ego: one participates in it without even knowing how to think, how to speak, without knowing anything, asking by one's presence: "I am here." How can one, then, make a hierarchy of values and contents? What must we obtain to be able to develop life? You ask me what you must ask? Affection for Christ!St. Thomas Aquinas says: "The life of man consists in the love that sustains him and in which he finds his greatest satisfaction" (in the Latin meaning of "satisfaction," which implies fulfillment, completeness). The most beautiful thing in the history of our movement is that first hundreds, and then thousands, of young people have learned, and now live, the love of Christ that alone permits one to love one's friend, or a woman, or oneself. But how does this capacity for loving Christ come about? In the first place, above all, by asking for it. The religious history of humanity, that is, the Bible, ends with this phrase: "Come Lord." It is an emotional phrase, overflowing with love. Until a few years ago, it was the formula that we used regularly in our community. Now there is another which we focus on: Veni Sancte Spiritus. Veni per Mariam. It is the same, more developed and conscious.But here we come to another question: a love that sustains life, in which man finds his fulfillment, must have as its object something that is able pertinere ad omnia (to pertain to all things). In this regard, a well-known phrase of Guardini's comes to mind: "In the experience of a great love everything that happens becomes an event related to that love." If a man and a woman love each other with a profound love, the events of Tienanmen Square, a song one hears, the newspaper one reads or the sun in front of one's eyes, everything that happens becomes an event in relation to that great love. The object of love must be capable of encompassing" everything. An example: Communion and Liberation, which was once called Student Youth, has never organized activities that were not unequivocally educational, not even eating meals together. This explains why the group chooses to go to the mountains for its summer holidays. It is not a chance decision. We decided against the seashore at the outset because the seashore is too distracting. In the mountains, the healthy human surroundings and nature's imposing beauty combine every time to help renew the question of being, of order, of the goodness of reality. This question provides the first provocation by which the religious sense is awakened in us. With the necessary discipline, which has always been rigorously preserved (discipline is like the source of a brook or stream: the water there runs purer, clearer, faster; discipline is necessary because everything is recognized to have a meaning), the vacations in the, mountains are therefore always proposed to the experience of persons like a prophecy, even if fleeting, of the Christian promise of fulfillment, like a little anticipation of paradise. And every particular brought that promise, was aimed at realizing that anticipation.What our movement is usually criticized for is in fact the sign of our greatness: that everything happens within the horizon of the presence of Christ, that is, of our fellowship. We are criticized for the fact that the experience of the love of Christ should be all-encompassing. But everything that is divided by His presence will be destroyed; division is the beginning of destruction. (There is no "I" if it is not capable of embracing everything spreading far and wide.) This is why we have always hated the word censorship. I used to say to the young people: "You cannot censor anything, not out of a psychoanalytic passion, but because everything must be revealed, cleared up, explained and assisted."The sign of a life that reveals itself in the love of Christ, that is, that adheres to and participates in his fellowship, is joy. "I have told you these things so that your joy might be full." Christ said this a few hours before he died. Joy alone is the mother of sacrifice, because sacrifice is not reasonable if it is not attracted by the beauty of the truth. It is beauty-"the splendor of the truth" -which calls us to sacrifice. As the Bible says in the Book of Sirach: "A happy man is also at peace when he sits down to his meal; he savors what he eats." This joy lies even at the depth of the most bitter sorrow, a sorrow which one cannot avoid at a certain point: the sorrow over one's own evil. To belong to our company means to feel that the greatest sorrow is that of one's own evil, of sin. I cannot say: "I will never again commit a sin," because keeping God's law-that is, following Christ - is a miracle of Grace, not something we accomplish by ourselves. This is why the point at which the freedom of the Mystery and the freedom of man meet is the moment of the question. Our movement also emphasizes something else: the greatness of the moment, the importance of contingent reality, where an endless series of solicitations come together by which the Mystery calls us. I always repeat that our greatest "friends! are the inevitable circumstances in which we find ourselves, since these are the absolute sign of the Mystery that calls us. Again in the Ambrosian liturgy there is this lovely prayer: "Grant, oh God, that the Church of Christ may celebrate ineffable Mysteries in which our smallness as mortal creatures is rendered sublime in an eternal relationship and our existence in time begins to flourish as a life without end. Thus, following Your design of love, man passes from a mortal condition to a wondrous salvation." In other words, man passes to a way of life that flowers ever more luxuriantly.De Lubac, in Paradoxes and New Paradoxes, observes that "the conformist takes even the things of the Spirit in their formal, exterior aspect. The obedient person instead takes even the things of the earth in their interior and sublime aspects." Because of this- this is another thing our movement emphasizes -it is necessary to cultivate a human gift that is natural to a child and becomes something great when it exists in an adult. As one person wrote to me: "Nothing is communicated except what is received freely (as by a baby). And one's attention is drawn only because one is astonished." We therefore ought increase our capacity for wonder: "if you are not like little children you will never enter." In the first chapter of John's Gospel, in the second half, there is an account of how John and Andrew set out to follow Jesus. Jesus turned around and said: "What are you looking or?" "Master, where do you live?" "Come and see." And they went and remained with Him the entire day. Let us try to imagine who those two men were who followed Jesus, thoroughly frightened, and the young man who walked ahead of them. Who knows with what wonder they looked at him and, once in his house, listened to him!Another page of the Gospel strikes me in the same way. It describes the moment when Jesus passed through the crowds of people in Jericho. The head of the local mafia in Jericho had climbed up a sycamore tree to see Him, because he was a small man. Jesus passed nearby and looked up to where the man had climbed. Let's try to imagine what that man must have felt. It is as if Christ had said to him: "I respect you, climb down quickly, I am coming to your house." But that encounter would not be true-would be as if it had not taken place 2,000 years ago-if it did not happen today. One cannot follow Christ if one does not perceive that he is true today! The encounters with persons with whom we share this sense of wonder, as it occurred in the encounter between Jesus and Zaccheus, are the most important things in our lives. "Look every day upon the faces of the saints and listen carefully to their words," the liturgy says.One understands, then, that the Community, is the place where one's individual identity can
individual identity can be centered, where one can attain the clearest perception of reality - feeling it, grasping it intellectually, judging it. Here one can imagine, plan, decide, do. Our individual identities form an integral part of this community, and the community provides me with the ultimate criterion for confronting all reality. Therefore our point of view does not go its own way, but rather commits itself to a certain community model and in that model obeys the community, the fellowship. As Rilke said of his wife, in that sharing that marks the relationship between man and woman, so brief but exemplary: "where something obscure remains in a relationship, it is the type of thing that does not require clarification, but rather, submission".We experience great submission in our community life: submission to the Mystery of Christ who makes himself present among us and walks with us. Something Peguy said captures the point well: "When the disciple does nothing more than repeat, not the same resonance but a miserable copy of the thought of the master; I when the disciple is nothing more than a disciple, even if he is the greatest of disciples, he will never generate anything. A disciple does not begin to create until he himself introduces a new sound (that is, in the measure in which he is not a disciple). It is not that one should not have a master, but one must descend from the other by the natural ways of filiation, not by the scholastic ways of discipleship." This is what our community needs in order for it to become the source of missions throughout the world. It needs not discipleship, nor repetition, but filiation. It is right that a son who has the nature of his father nevertheless introduce a new echo and resonance in his own life. He has the same nature, but he is a new thing. This is so true that the son can do better than the father, and the father can watch joyfully as the son becomes greater than he. But what the son does is greater only in so far as it realizes more fully what the father has heard. For the living organic nature of our community, then, there is nothing more contradictory, on the one hand, than the affirmation of one's own opinion, of one's own measure, of one's own way of feeling, and on the other hand, repetition. It is filiation that generates, the process by which the blood of the father passes into the heart of the son-and generates a different capacity of realization. Thus the great Mystery of His presence is multiplied and spread, so that all may see Him, giving glory to God.

© Fraternità di Comunione e Liberazione. CF 97038000580 / Webmaster / Note legali / Credits