01-04-2006 - Traces, n.4

Mitteleuropa CL Responsibles Assembly

A New People Gathers
Together Different Nations

February 11th and 12th, in the splendid setting of the Sonntagberg castle-cathedral near Vienna, the diaconia of the responsibles for the Movement in Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic gathered. “Someone happened to us”

by Emanuele Bianchi and Federico Rinaldi

Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary–in a word, central Europe, or Mitteleuropa. In no other place in the world does the mere distance of 600 miles include peoples of such profoundly different languages, cultures, pasts, and presents. In addition to German and the Slavic languages, you could hear among us a musical language of an entirely different derivation: Hungarian. The history of the Movement in this area began during the Communist period, with relationships cultivated faithfully over the years, through periodic visits and clandestine meetings with Italian friends. In 1995, following a chance encounter between Fr. Giussani and Christoph Schönborn–shortly thereafter named Archbishop of Vienna–in the San Damaso courtyard in the Vatican, the first Italian university students arrived in Vienna, joined a few months later by a group of priests of the St. Charles Borromeo Fraternity. Meanwhile, time was maturing the seeds sown over the years in Bratislava, Budapest, and Prague.
The point of departure for everyone was the same: an encounter, chancing upon a human fact that substantially changes everyday life.

Lucie, Deborah, and the others
During the February 11th and 12th assembly of Mitteleuropa with Fr. Pino and Davide Prosperi at the Sonntagberg, a stupendous place an hour west of Vienna, Lucie, a student of Agrarian Economics in Prague, told about her first lunch invitation from Fr. Andrea and Fr. Stefano, who worked in the university as chaplains. She spoke of a humanity that was different, an exceptional interest in the person, a unique gusto for all the particulars, an attraction that she could not help but follow, seeking to grasp it and make it her own.
Deborah, another student, had met the Movement only a short time before. “Initially, even though I was a bit biased against them, I did nothing other than stay with the people I found at my side, and do what they were doing. I realize now that I was walking with Christ. He accompanied me and accompanies me through these friends: there is nothing in my life that hasn’t been revolutionized.” Fr. Pino, having just returned from the National Diaconia in Boston, started immediately by clearly establishing the terms of the question: “Unlike the initial situation, today a point of union is present in the midst of differences, Christ, who through a friendship has rejoined the links of a chain stressed by time and broken by history. Only madmen would have faced such a long journey whipped by the heaviest snowfall in years, if they hadn’t had such a clear motive, a certainty that pressed them to go. ‘Someone happened to us’ would be an incomprehensible statement, if it were just an idea. Instead, it is a fact, and it is precisely what has guided you and us here!”

Acknowledging the design
of an Other

The many contributions to the assembly highlighted how the issues of daily life require of each of us the simplicity of acknowledging the design of an Other: out of this acknowledgment is born the serene acceptance of our circumstances and the passion for what we have in our hands, “the whispers of One who is calling.”
Margit spoke of her duties as wife and mother, her commitment to enable her family as well to take part in the Beauty she has encountered. “We read in School of Community that the Church is the mother of the faithful, that she doesn’t solve all their problems, but puts her children in the best conditions for facing them. In the same way, as a mother, my task is not to substitute myself for my daughters, but to accompany them, teaching them to examine everything in terms of their own desire for happiness.” Maxi, a medical student, recounted how his way of looking at his hospital patients has changed, and spoke of his serenity in facing the many toilsome situations of life. “You have to have the greatness of heart to continue proposing, without tiring.”
Maria, who was due within days to give birth to Matthias, sent her contribution by letter, explaining how, thanks to a new human position, everything, even the fear related to her pregnancy, has been “liberated” and circumstances have become the beloved place where Christ makes Himself present through the faces of friends who accompany her.

Facing what you have to do
Fr. Pino summarized all this in his response to Luca’s words: “There’s no use sitting around thinking how to expand and serve the Kingdom of God. You just need to face with loyalty what you have to do, accepting with hope what reality proposes, and asking that His design be made manifest. … At every moment, we are called to say ‘yes,’ to honor the freedom that has been given to us.”
The awakening of this consciousness, one reads in the notes from the different contributions, is made possible by the daily relationship with people who make Christ present, and already live differently.
“It’s up to us to seek the place where this can happen. Today, this affirmation can be scandalous, because we live in times characterized by individualism, a position that distorts the human person, who, instead, from his first moments of life, develops on the basis of a relationship.” Keeping Christ as the point of departure also reveals more clearly our vocation in life, that which reality indicates for us as our task: marriage, family, and work. For example, “What your children ask of you,” underlined Prosperi, who has followed the communities of central Europe with moving paternity, “is that you be a witness to the truth to which they can cling; otherwise; they lose direction. You just need to be loyal to your own heart.”
“In your everyday activities, the contents become an event only if they are accompanied by a personal involvement,” Pepe reminded his listeners, in summary. “Even the many public gestures of this period, the presentations, exhibits, concerts, and Schools of Community, all this bubbling of life is made possible only through the ‘yes’ and the commitment of each individual person.”
Sunday, just before the departure, the video on Fr. Giussani served as the basis for formulating the proposal for the near future: compare everything with the heart and its exigencies, always conscious of freedom; in other words, education.