01-06-2006 - Traces, n.6


Excerpts from Fr. Julián Carrón’s talk at the Exercises of the Fraternity

Rimini, April 29, 2006

“How can this event reach me?” the Pope asked again during the Easter Vigil. “It is clear that this event is not just some miracle from the past. It is a qualitative leap in the history of ‘evolution’ … toward a new future life, toward a new world which, starting from Christ, already continuously permeates this world of ours, transforms it and draws it to itself. But how does this happen? How can this event effectively reach me and draw my life upwards toward itself? The answer, perhaps surprising at first but totally real, is: this event comes to me through faith and Baptism. …Baptism means precisely this, that we are not dealing with an event in the past, but that a qualitative leap in world history comes to me, seizing hold of me in order to draw me on” (Benedict XVI, Easter Vigil 2006). Note the expression the Pope uses: “seizing hold of me in order to draw me on.” “Baptism is something quite different from an act of ecclesial socialization, from a slightly old-fashioned and complicated rite for receiving people into the Church. It is also more than a simple washing, more than a kind of purification and embellishment of the soul. It is… rebirth, transformation to a new life.” How can we understand this? The Pope goes on to introduce us into this mystery.
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). This is the explanation of what happens in Baptism: I live, but I am no longer I. The “I,” the essential identity of man, has been changed. St. Paul’s “I” still exists, and no longer exists. “He has passed through a ‘not’ and he now finds himself continually in this ‘not’: I, but no longer I. This is an expression of what happened in Baptism. My ‘I’ is taken away from me and is incorporated into a new and greater subject. This means that my “I” is back again, but now transformed, broken up, opened through incorporation into the other, in whom it acquires its new breadth of existence” (Op. cit.).
As you see, what the Pope says is what Fr. Giussani recalled for us. “Someone has happened to us” (Luigi Giussani, “Christmas: the Mystery of God’s Tenderness,” Traces, December 2005.), has been given to us, so much so as to insert Himself into our flesh and blood, into our soul. “It is no longer I who live, but it is He who lives in me.” Someone has made His home in me: You, Christ, who are me. This is the change we read about in the School of Community: an “I,” but more than an “I,” an ontological exaltation of the “I.” Fr. Giussani uses the same expression as the Pope: “A qualitative leap in participation in Being” (Luigi Giussani, Why the Church?, McGill-Queens, 2001), p. 180). This is the true mutation that happens in Baptism, which makes a new creature of the “I.” If someone is in Christ, he is a new creature. So what counts is not circumcision or lack of circumcision, but being a new creature, living every instant of life in the awareness of this “You” that has made its home in me.