01-01-2007 - Traces, n. 1
Brazil National Assembly of Responsibles

Living the Faith

Three hundred people from 27 Brazilian cities met in Rio de Janeiro, November 3-5, to respond to Carrón’s “provocation”

by Isabella S. Alberto and Liziane Rodrigues

A new beginning that enables us to rediscover the fascination of the beginning: this is the proposal of Julián Carrón. The country was the first to receive missionaries from the Movement, and now it is challenged to “take a step.”
At the opening of the National Assembly, everyone was amazed by and grateful for Carrón’s first words: “I’ve returned to Brazil because I have something urgent to tell you. I’m sure that the community of Brazil, each of you, is called to a new beginning in this historical moment. The encounter with Cleuza and Marcos Zerbini (see Traces Vol. 8, No. 7 [July/Aug] 2006), with Fr. Ticão, and the Pope’s visit at the great Assembly of Bishops next year, convince me that a new beginning is necessary here. We are called to make a leap ahead in the self-awareness of the faith, in the self-awareness of life, more than in other countries. And you are in the position of being able to live your faith and your love for Christ more passionately. It is out of love for your destiny that I have returned, even though I was here recently, and still have many other countries to visit”.

A proposal to be verified
Carrón proposed to the 300 assembly participants what he himself experienced when he met the Movement. He had been a priest for 20 years when he encountered Fr. Giussani. His “pastoral success” and his doctorate in theology did not correspond totally to what his heart desired. It was because of the gaze directed at his own heart–the exigencies for beauty, truth, justice, and happiness–that he accepted the challenge that had been made to him. We all have the instruments necessary to make this comparison, wherever we are, whatever our circumstances. In following this new walk of correspondence, he was able to accept Fr. Giussani’s invitation a few years later to move to Italy, leaving his work as a religion professor and his relatives in Madrid. “I told Fr. Giussani that what I had encountered made it possible for me to take on anything with joy.”
This certainty and this gaze full of attention for “the other” set the tone for the question and answer session on Saturday. Young people and adults presented themselves with sincerity, “without masks or discourses,” as Carrón had asked, and, little by little, the steps of the new journey were begun.

Something missing
The first to speak was a university student who recounted his disappointment after finishing a project. Carrón immediately went to the core of the question: comparing everything with the heart, deep down, you see that nothing is enough. We need a Savior; we need Christ. He insisted that “we can’t settle for ‘the small stuff.’ It’s necessary to realize what a great Grace has been given to us. Nothing is more beautiful than what we have received.”
In order for our consciousness of this to grow, experience is necessary. Grace grows only when it becomes experience, if every morning we are moved to say, “The Word became flesh and lives among us,” because we are poor souls, but we carry within us the Grace of this newness. “I have returned so we can help each other let the newness that is Christ sink in and penetrate. If we don’t need Him, well then, let’s just go to the beach! We don’t have any reason to stay here,” said Carrón.
Not even all the confusion in which we find ourselves, or see around us, can stop us from acknowledging the truth. All our humanity–with all that we are, with our joys, sadnesses and dissatisfactions–is the instrument for recognizing Christ. Our humanity is not something secondary. Carrón underlined this, like a father who desires the good for his children and tries to ease their way, with the clear consciousness that it is not possible to take the place of anyone, but only to accompany the step that depends on the freedom of each person.

Attention to the road signs
Carrón reminded listeners of the fact that normally we have many images of what this correspondence may be: what I like, what I feel, what I want. Instead, it is another thing, and it reveals itself if we are attentive to reality and loyal to ourselves. This is not an ethical question, but rather the fundamental point of our own happiness. He cited Lewis: “What I like about experience is that it is something so honest that you can make a whole pile of mistakes, but you’ll remain with your eyes open and you won’t be able to go much further before the right road sign appears. You can fool yourselves, but experience doesn’t want to fool you. The universe responds with the truth when you interrogate it in an honest way.”
Carrón underlined that the road of our Movement is a challenge to reason and our sentiment, because it asks us to be loyal to what emerges from experience. We have the heart as the criterion of judgment and the challenge that Fr. Giussani held out to us, and that Carrón confirms with courage and determination: if we use this criterion, we will be mature in the faith, we will understand that Jesus corresponds to our desires, and we will have adequate reasons for following Him. If it isn’t so, sooner or later we’ll tire. This is why we have to decide.