01-03-2006 - Traces, n.3

Fr. Giussani


Living for Him
or for Oneself
Extracts from the Homily
of Archbishop Carlo Caffarra of Bologna at the Mass at which he presided
in St. Peter’s Cathedral

Dear friends: Monsignor Giussani had the gift from the Holy Spirit of the particular charism of directing the look of those he met towards the Fact for which exists all that exists. “The Word was made flesh and set up His dwelling amongst us.” His charism was to direct people to look upon Him whom men pierced, so as to have life from Him. “Look towards Him and be radiant,” Fr. Giussani seemed to say to everyone who met him. “This is the Christian message: Beauty became flesh and experienced ‘in frail human frames/ learn with what ills our mortal life doth swarm,’” and “this is man’s natural cry that nature inspires, it is man’s cry, his prayer that God become a companion and an experience” (L. Giussani, Le mie letture, BUR, p. 30). Fr. Giussani’s educational genius lay in his capacity to make every person he met hear this cry that wells up in everyone’s heart: that God become a companion and an experience for him. […] Yes, dear friends, because the true question to which all cultural endeavor leads back is this: who does man live for? If we answer, “For himself,” the ultimate cultural horizon becomes a concept and an experience of deceptive autonomy which devastates the humanity of the poor and the lowly.
If man lives, instead, for that Presence that is the fruit of God’s self-offering to man, then every cultural construction becomes the immense cultivation of every fragment of our humanity. Dear friends, here we discover the other dimension of Monsignor Giussani’s charism: his capacity to generate free people, to generate freedom. Yes, directing man’s eyes towards Christ, man finds full freedom because he becomes able to give himself. […] Monsignor Giussani bore witness to the central Event of history and the cosmos, showing man that in the daily experience of the relationship with Christ, “everything that happens becomes an event in its ambit: living and dying, waking or sleeping, eating and drinking, St. Paul would say” (L. Giussani, Un caffè in compagnia, Rizzoli, p. 149).

karaganda (Kazakhstan)
Follow Him and
Be Witnesses
Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga of Karaganda officiated at the Mass in the Cathedral of St Joseph
Young people followed Fr. Giussani to experience the real presence of Christ in the journey of life. You have to go ahead on this road, following Christ, as Fr. Giussani witnessed. The continued offering of his life to God merited him a place in heaven. Let us pray that since he is in heaven, the work of faithfulness to God may go on through his children, so that the fruits of spiritual contemplation may be visible. Witness the values of life that he showed. We are not praising the person today, but his life, so that we, too, might reach these values. Eternal life is above everything that is earthly. Life must be built on Christ so that its foundation be strong. Follow him; don’t be afraid; live his experience. What is built by man falls down, but whoever builds on Christ will receive the hundredfold here in this world. Benedict XVI has written, reminding you how you must live and share spiritually everything with him who lived his life and fulfilled it. The people near us look at our faith. We have to live in such a way that Christ not make us afraid, but enkindle our hearts; we have to offer our life for man saved by Christ. Those who have accepted the faith with passion, testify through Christ’s power. Fr. Giussani who was born far from Kazakhstan, in Milan, brought the announcement of Christ through his priests, and made it possible to adhere to Him. And now there are no more borders, only grace.

In Love
with Christ
More than 8,000
people attended the Mass celebrated in Milan Cathedral by Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi.
Fr. Julián Carrón and
Fr. Gerolamo Castiglioni concelebrated, along with
a large number of priests

Dear friends, we are here to remember Monsignor Luigi Giussani on the first anniversary of his definitive entrance into the Father’s house. We all feel him alive, because he left, and goes on leaving, profound traces in our hearts and in our experience of Christian life. We feel him still alive, without any fear of being left orphans, but with the certainty and the joy of a paternity that not only goes on, but grows and becomes spiritually more intense, purer and more fruitful. We feel him alive in this beautiful mystery of the “Communion of Saints,” which involves us all, and above all in virtue of that Eucharistic celebration which is the living memory and the re-presentation here and now of the sacrifice of the Cross by the Church in its wholeness and unity, by the Church still a pilgrim on the earth and by the Church that is already in the Father’s glory. So there is no stronger and more beneficial com-presence between Fr. Giussani and us and of Fr. Giussani with each and everyone than this, which we are given and guaranteed in the Eucharist. […]
Every Christian must be in love with Christ without limits and without affectation. Fr. Giussani was a clear, strong witness of this “being in love,” with all the human passion and the “charge” of faith that overpowered him. Fr. Giussani was an untiring missionary of this “being in love” and an enthusiastic educator for all those he met in his priestly ministry, beginning with young people. The Holy Father presents him in these terms in his letter to Fr. Carrón: “Father and teacher of many young people, to whom he indicated Christ as the center of their existence.” Christ at the center of our life. Rather, Christ the center of our life! May this be, for all of us, the great grace we want to ask incessantly from the Lord in our prayers. But there is no genuine love for Christ that is not, at the same time, love for the Church, for the Church is nothing other than Christ Himself who in a certain sense continues to “become flesh” in history, in humanity–in that humanity which He, the Redeemer, clasps to Himself, making it His Body and His Spouse. Christ comes to meet us and saves us in the Church and through the Church. […]
Yes, the Church exists for mission. Mission, therefore, is the very reason for its existence. Rather, the Church is this very mission in action that, with the strength of the Spirit, takes our hearts and our lives and commits us in every concrete environment of our daily existence to be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world.” I know that this participation in the Church’s mission–a participation that is convinced and responsible, personal and communitarian, operating in the most varied environments of society–was a constant in Monsignor Giussani’s teaching and work. And I know that his missionary impetus so marked Communion and Liberation as to constitute it in its deepest essence as a “movement.” How can I not thank you for the convincing, energetic and courageous witness of this missionarity, of which our society and culture today are in absolute need, since they often lose their way or refuse the truth and, with that, the Gospel values, and sometimes even rational values? I invite you to offer your original contribution so that all our realities of the Church might live this missionary dynamism with more and more conviction and vigor. All the forces that the Holy Spirit arouses in His Church according to different experiences and modes must converge to show and live a great missionary communion. This communion no way sacrifices the specificity of the various forces and resources, but confirms and exalts it precisely through comparison and reciprocal collaboration. At the same time, this communion not only ensures greater credibility and effectiveness in the Church’s action, but makes possible and fosters the achievement of the ultimate aim of the evangelizing mission: the mission is the way to communion, just as communion is the way to mission.
Now, to conclude, I want to draw inspiration once again from a biblical text we have read in this evening’s liturgy. It is a warm, pressing exhortation that St. Peter addresses to “the elders,” that is to say, the bishops. Calling himself “witness of the sufferings of Christ and sharer in the glory that is to be revealed,” the first Pope tells them, “Shepherd God’s flock, which has been entrusted to you, watching over it not under force but willingly, under God; not out of base interest, but kind-heartedly; not lording it over the people entrusted to you, but by being models of the flock” (1 Pet 5:2-3). May the Lord grant me to live this exhortation before the whole flock He has entrusted to me. On this occasion, it will be sufficient to confide to you that in my visits to the various parish communities in the diocese, I have often met people of the Movement–committed even in ordinary pastoral activities–who have told me, “We love you.” And my answer was the same, “I love you.” With the same sincerity, I repeat it this evening to all of you.
Yes, because, after all, this and no other is the sweetest grace and the truest responsibility in the paternity of a bishop. In this sense, I invite everyone to thank the Lord for the gift He made to the Church in the person and the work of this Milanese priest, Fr. Luigi, for the gift, in Pope Benedict’s words, of “such a zealous priest, in love with man because he was in love with Christ.” We are together in wishing to thank the Holy Father for the friendship he had for Monsignor Giussani, for his personal participation in his funeral held in this Cathedral, and for his letter on this first anniversary. I feel the need to pray to the Lord for all of Fr. Giussani’s “spiritual children” so that they may take up with trust and courage, under the guidance of his successor, Fr. Carrón, “the task”–once again the Pope’s words–“of going on walking in his footsteps, following his teaching, and always remaining in communion with the bishops and other components of the Church.” The celebration ends, life goes on. May it go on for all in a greater and greater love for Christ and His Church, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).

At the end of the celebration,
Fr Carrón addressed the following
words of thanks to the Cardinal.
Your Eminence, I wish to thank you on behalf of all Communion and Liberation for this celebration in which you have expressed your esteem for Fr. Giussani and the Movement. Following him and his charism, I assure you once again that it is our desire with the whole of our existence to serve the Church, who is Christ living today, by living and bringing His proposal into the ambits where we are called to live. In the present confused and dramatic situation, we feel as never before the urge to witness to Christianity as a surprising and exhaustive answer to the needs of our heart and that of our fellow men. Experience has taught us that this is possible only when Christianity is lived as an event, according to its original nature, as Benedict XVI wrote at the beginning of his encyclical Deus Caritas Est: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person.” Thank you, your Eminence.

A Sign for
the Church
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Moscow celebrated Mass in memory of Fr. Giussani in the Church of St. Louis of the French
We are gathered here this evening to remember, on the first anniversary of his death, Fr. Giussani, a great theologian and a great educator, who for many among you is really a father in faith. The year that has just elapsed was rich with tremendous signs: the death of Sr. Lucia, one of the Fatima visionaries, that of John Paul II, and that of Fr. Giussani. As we make memory of these great figures, the fact becomes evident that, even during these years so hard for Europe, when ideologies like Communism, Fascism and Nazism tore consciences apart and sowed hatred and violence, the Lord has continued to arouse some free and true men and women among His people. Along with John Paul II and Sr. Lucia, Fr. Giussani was an important sign for the Church and for the future of Christianity: even though he was born and was educated during the Fascist period in Italy, his figure is the proof that man’s freedom, his awareness of the truth, cannot be overcome by anything. And more, Giussani had a starting intuition, which later became fundamental in his charism, the charism of the Movement of GS and later Communion and Liberation: the intuition of how important the task of education is, the formation of a human person who will be truly himself, free and responsible. This, if you think of it, is the most useful thing even for society, because there are no valid teachers, pilots, engineers, or bishops and cardinals at that, unless they are, above all, authentic men! I have a personal remembrance of an encounter with Fr. Giussani, many years ago, a little after I was made Bishop of Moscow: we met at Seriate, at the “Christian Russia” Center, where a meeting had been organized for bishops of the former Soviet Union with him, to enable us to know the charism of Communion and Liberation at close quarters. Of that encounter, I recall the educational passion of Fr. Giussani, along with his passion for Christ and the paternity that was clearly visible in him. This same paternity I saw again last year, when I was able to watch his funeral on TV. I remember how moved I was as I saw many of those present weeping, but also their serenity, the unity of a people gathered around him. It was the witness of children around their father, who had given them birth and was giving them rebirth, right then, into faith. With this memory and this responsibility I exhort you to go on living and serving the Church.

in the Faith
The President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, celebrated Mass in the Basilica of St. Mary Major
“Who do you say I am?” (Mt 16:15) This very question interrogates every Christian today with the same impact. All of us are asked this question, “Who am I for you?” It is precisely in the answer each of us gives to this question that the faces appear of those through whom the knowledge of Jesus matured in each of us. […]
Christ’s question shakes us today with the same impact with which it shook His disciples, and with the same effectiveness it awakens in us all the gratitude for what we have received. I wish to join you today in your thanksgiving for the gift Fr. Giussani was in your lives. The encounter with him has brought you to know and love the Church, and often to fight on her behalf, spending energy, creativity, and commitment so that she may be a friendly presence, close to the daily life of every man. I wholeheartedly thank each one of you for this active passion in the service of the Church. Fr. Giussani witnessed with untiring constancy precisely this determined commitment and involved you in it, too, by giving his own life for the education of many generations. […] The Movement of Communion and Liberation is responsible today for picking up and developing the heritage of its founder. Sure, Fr. Giussani’s thought, his educational genius, the intelligence with which he questioned everyone, his capacity in re-expressing the dogmas of faith, bringing them close to people’s lives, all of this, published in his many books, is already a patrimony of the Church and of mankind. It is up to the freedom of the Holy Spirit to bring the fruit of this seed to maturity, in ways we cannot know today. But of one thing we are sure: in order to remain faithful to itself and to renew itself continually, the Movement of Communion and Liberation is called upon to draw over and over again from the source of the teaching and the witness of its founder. Fr. Giussani’s charism, read and lived in the great riverbed of the Church’ tradition, will be fruitful with missionary initiatives, speculative and theological studies, and charitable works. This will make it possible to write new pages of the Movement’s history, as the development and maturation of what he has initiated. Fr. Giussani’s teaching and example are like yeast that has certainly not exhausted its power, and it will go on bearing new fruits now after his death. For this, too, we thank God, because this on-going blossoming in His Church demonstrates the vigor of Christ’s Resurrection, His capacity to be contemporary to every age in history. Precisely the sense of responsibility that pervades us, which is also gratitude and availability, enables us to look to the future with hope. The human journey of Fr. Giussani was filled with unhesitating love for the Mystical Body of Christ. […]
In our petitions to God, let us also remember Fr. Julián Carrón, who has been given the task of guiding your Movement and the responsibility of fostering in each of you the personal rediscovery of your own Christian identity. “Who am I for you?” Our mature answer to this question of Christ, rationally meditated upon and forcefully affirmed, has to become the most authentic homage to him who has gone on ahead of us. May the open, courageous witness of our faith before our fellow men and women in our time, often disoriented and confused but also full of expectation, be the fruit and the crowning of the experience of the friendship in Jesus Christ that has tied us to our fathers.

Be Sons
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn celebrated a Mass in St. Andrew’s Chapel, in the Archbishop’s Palace
In his letter, James says, “My brothers, if one of you strays away from the truth, and another brings him back to it, he may be sure that anyone who can bring back a sinner from his erring ways will be saving his soul from death and covering over many a sin.”
Fr. Giussani was this for the life of many who had gone astray from the truth. Not only did he realize that many young people had gone astray from the truth and were under the influence of ideology, but he helped them to come back.
Thanks to this return, many were saved from the death of their souls, and many from the death that is lack of meaning, nothingness. […]
I believe that Fr. Giussani saved many, because he showed many the way of truth; a person like him covers a multitude of sins. Pope Benedict defines you as the spiritual sons of Fr. Giussani. I am 68 years old, and I lived personally the crisis of the 1968 generation; at that time, we would have been unable to agree with each other. We rejected paternity, authority, and discipleship, because we were convinced that these things were incompatible with true human dignity. We wanted to be brothers, and we forgot that it is impossible to be brothers and sisters without parents. Thank God, the Lord aroused in the Church people who showed us how we could be brothers and sisters only by having a father. […]
I think that Fr. Giussani showed you, and us, in the Church, the meaning of the word paternity. You are his spiritual sons. There is no growth without paternity, without the dimension of discipleship, of learning, of those who open themselves up and allow themselves to be molded. […]
When I was a young student in the sixties, what the spirit of ideology had injected into me was mistrust for any authority.… But this led me to a point where I realized that unless I accepted a spiritual paternity I was never going to become an adult, and I was never going to learn how to be a father. This happened thanks to people like Hans Urs von Balthasar, Cardinal Ratzinger, and the Dominicans, with whom I discovered how extraordinary it is to be able to entrust yourself to a master, a father, rejecting the inner resistance dictated by the fear of appearing young and naïve. …
I realized I could really entrust myself, that I could abandon myself, that I could allow someone to mold me, and in spite of this I was not losing my freedom; on the contrary, I was going to learn and understand a lot, and I would be enriched by it.
I think this is the same trust you feel for the man who has opened this road in the Church, and gathered this people together. Be truly and really his spiritual sons, go on in his footsteps, and follow his teaching.
[Notes not reviewed by the author.]

washington, DC
of the Flock
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, DC, celebrated a Mass in Holy Cross
Church in Kensington, MD

Throughout his life, Fr. Giussani, whenever he spoke about anything, it was always somehow connected with Christ, because when he lived his life, all of his life, he was always himself, intimately, inevitably, wonderfully connected with Christ. “Be examples to the flock.” I believe that one of the wonderful things that we were saying about Luigi Giussani was that he always wanted to be that and, in the end, he was quite successful in doing this. In everything he said and everything he taught, whether it was in the university or with the young people or speaking in a retreat to other priests or to bishops, whatever he did, it was always that he wanted to be an example to the flock, an example to others. That centrality, that freeing, that liberation, through the communion with Jesus, was so very important a part of his life. As he calls us to congregation, as he calls us to commitment, as he calls us to communion, all these stages are the stages of his own life, which he lived more brilliantly than we do. He understood Jesus’ presence in his life and did not hesitate to make that presence the whole secret of his holiness. It was the whole answer to all the concerns that came across his desk and into his life. The lesson that he gave those who loved him and those who listened to him was Christ, that Christ should be their way, their answer, their realization, their reality, and that this was the only reality. The only thing as a child, a young teenager, the only thing worth talking about, became, for the mature man, the only thing worth living for, Christ and Christ alone. And if you, dear friends, my brother priests, all of you who are part of this Movement, can live that way, can try in your own lives always to be examples to the flock, examples to the rest of you–examples first of all to those in your own religious family, but examples always; examples by the way you live, obviously, and by the way you talk, obviously, but most importantly by the way you center your lives on Christ. If you do that, then you truly will be the ones the Holy Father spoke of in his beautiful letter, the ones who are in a very special way the family of Fr. Giussani.
Who is going to proclaim the faith today? Who is going to be the ones who say, “This is what I believe, and you know, it is the most important thing in my life” ? You are. You are. You must be, because you must give witness to the flock, and to the flock today. The most important witness is of a living, vital, zealous, totally accepted, and totally loved faith. I am sure Fr. Luigi Giussani would say the same thing. Because his was a faith that was all those things, and it was on the strength of that faith that he walked for all those years, and accomplished so very much.
Dear sisters and brothers, know that you must live that faith. Know that you must love that faith, know that you must never be afraid to proclaim that faith, and know that you must never, ever, be ashamed of that faith. This is the message that I want to give you on this great anniversary; this is the prayer that I have for you, that as you read and study and meditate on all the teachings of Don Luigi, into your lives may come that deepest faith that liberates, and that deepest faith that binds us together in communion. It is that deepest faith that we must share with others, so that from that faith may come the victory of the Lord–He who truly is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.