|01-02-2009 - Traces, n. 2
Discovering Yourself through Obedience
Dear Father Carrón: When you say that to obey means to follow the discovery of the self operated by an Other, you remind me of my story. I have been on this island for fifteen years, and I have always kept in touch with the Movement. My priest used to tell me, “You are the Movement right where you are.” I agreed to move here because of the presence of the Catholic Church, since for me it is essential to have the possibility to receive the Eucharist. My husband Leckram’s openness to my experience of faith, and his willingness to raise Davide, Valeria, and Luca as Christians is another sign that the Spirit is always at work, as long as you call upon It. As of today, we still don’t have a place to meet for School of Community, but within me the desire for the Event to continually happen in the circumstances that I’m called to live is alive and well. I thank the Lord for all the people that He allows me to meet; with some of them I have a real friendship in Christ, born out of an experience of catechism at school. Some mothers recently approached me, to ask that I join them in helping local single mothers in order to promote the value of human life. This charitable work might give me the possibility to make visible Fr. Giussani’s charism, which is now in your hands and, with the help of God, is continuing to bear fruit. I pray with my daughter Valeria and with little Luca (two-and-a-half years old), while my son Davide is in Paris to study. He recently agreed to go meet the CL community in France.
Everything Belongs to Him
At the end of November of 2008, I fell and broke my wrist. The doctors decided I needed surgery. As they were wheeling me to the operating room, the anesthesiologist told me: “You are very lucky because you will be operated on by Colombia’s best hand surgeon.” At the first follow-up visit, the surgeon was very happy, not just for the good outcome of the procedure, but most of all to see Patrizia and me, so much so that he invited us to his house on the occasion of the Child Jesus Novena, a very beautiful Colombian tradition. We went and were welcomed by family and friends with a surprising familiarity and simplicity. The surgeon said, “Let’s begin this occasion praying to that Child who changed the world, like no president has been able to do.” As we were saying good-bye to him and his wife, they repeatedly told us how happy they were to have met us. We noticed curiosity and desire in them, so we planned to invite them to our house. On Sunday, January 4th, they came for lunch. It was very beautiful: they told us about their wedding and their children; about the friendships they developed thanks to their children’s school; but most of all they communicated the beauty of being Catholics. The doctor was glad to have met us, and was so moved that, at a certain point, without knowing anything about us, he said, “You came to this little part of the world leaving everything behind. This is Christianity: to love this little, unknown part of the world in the face of God. Thank you for coming from the first to the second world.” Before the end of lunch, we talked to them about the CL charism, and we gave them the December issue of Traces and the book about Communion and Liberation. We were very struck by the humanity and simplicity of these people, and when they left, we said to each other: “This was an act of mercy bestowed upon us by the goodness of God, who allowed this to happen because of His great love for us.” Nothing happens by chance, even mishaps; everything is useful, because everything belongs to Him.
Cristina, Bogotá (Colombia)
The Miracle of Adoption
Dear Father Carrón: On the occasion of the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, we had the grace to baptize our seven-year-old Peruvian adopted daughter Viviana. The adoption taught us to be free from circumstances and yet attached to the meaning that they carry. This experience clearly showed me, my wife, and our kids how only this attitude can save everything–our vocation, our temperament, and our sin. I thought from the start that either this adoption meant something for the whole world, that is, for the glory of God, or it was nothing. Adopting a child is a choice that brings you closer to Destiny, through the vocation to fatherhood and to welcoming. To adhere to the form that the Mystery assumes meant accepting this girl without reservations, without expectations, with her history of abuse and her health problems. This free attitude of ours unexpectedly resulted in a complete trust in us on her part. When you answer His call, you can “possess” reality. For example, during our stay in Lima, we could have just let time go by while waiting for life (back home in Italy) to start up again. Instead, those forty-five days spent in Peru made it easier to entrust ourselves to the Mystery through prayer. Our days thus became full of meaning, even if we didn’t have much to do. Last, but not least, there was the miracle of our kids, mostly our oldest (a fifteen-year-old) who initially felt like we were robbing him of his vacation. But he, who didn’t even want to leave for Peru, welcomed this girl in an indescribable way. The community in Lima supported us concretely by finding a doctor for Viviana and simply by responding to our request for companionship and friendship. One last thought goes to Andrea Aziani (he had died a few days before our arrival [see Traces, Vol. 10, No. 8, September 2008]), who, I think, permeated our stay with his presence, maybe because the little I knew about him–by meeting him in person nine years ago, and recently through stories of the friends of the Fraternity in Lima–made me perceive in him the incarnation of that perfect freedom Fr. Giussani speaks of in School of Community.
Enrico, Giarre (Italy)
Dearest Father Carrón: I am writing to you from Australia, where I have been living for the past four years. I just came back with my husband and my daughter from a vacation in Italy, during which we shared very intense moments with our families and friends. When I got back to Melbourne, I once again asked myself (as I did when I first arrived): “What am I doing here?” This morning, I woke up early because of the jet lag. I opened Traces and, reading the wonderful witnesses of the Rimini Meeting, my eyes were opened once again. It is Christ who asks me to recognize Him in my new home in Australia. It is He who entrusted me with the task of sharing the gladness I met in Italy with my Australian friends. It is He who gave me the companionship of my husband and daughter and has led me here to live it to the fullest through the faces of my new friends. Then, with this gaze, raising Alessia and the little one whom I carry in my womb is no longer a daily struggle to set limits and rules, but becomes a true companionship, from which I can learn to look at the world with simplicity and wonder, so to accompany them on their journey toward Destiny. House chores, work, and the faces of the people we meet are the concrete reality through which Jesus loves me and asks me to love Him, here and now. Each event–like World Youth Day or School of Community–has the depth of a Love greater than us. These are not simply “events to be organized” that are now over. Australia is the circumstance through which I walk toward Destiny. With this new outlook on life, I want to thank you for the paternity with which you embrace each one of us, through the most diverse ways and despite the miles that separate us.
Raffaella, Melbourne (Australia)
A Striking Gaze
Dear Father Carrón: A few days ago, I went to visit a former client of mine. During our chat, she told me the following story. She was in Sicily with her husband for work and, visiting a farm, she realized that the care, the order, and the organization she saw there were very much like the ones she saw us use in the planning of our Cultural Center’s events. At dinner, she complimented the farm’s owners, and she mentioned that she had already witnessed this way to work looking at her CL friends. In hearing that comment, the owners looked at each other in awe and said they belonged to the Movement too. They all spent the remainder of the evening relating their experiences. What strikes me is that we have a different way of looking at reality, because we search for and give priority to the facts that Christ makes happen, and this becomes a method to look at our daily circumstances (which, for me, is working in a bank). It is this gaze–not the organization–that is striking and captivating.
Pasquale, Recanati (Italy)
A New Motherhood
Dear Father Carrón: On the 13th of September, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with the Montetauro community (a Christian community of consecrated lay people–similar to our Memores Domini–who live out their vocation through prayer and serving gravely ill people), where our son Carlo has been living as a patient for the past eight years. He is 23 and suffers from a fairly serious form of autism. It was a very beautiful day, because it was immediately clear that everything was possible because of the presence of Christ, because of Grace. The opening hymn at Mass was Il Disegno [The Design] by A. Marani, a song that has accompanied our family’s pivotal moments, from our wedding to our three children’s Baptisms. As I listened to the first notes, it became clear to me that, throughout the years, God had never left us alone. Many of those years were marked by Carlo’s disease, which has been, and still is, a great test of our faith. We have been asked to opt for the Lord in every moment, hoping against all odds, pushing to continually entrust ourselves to Him, looking for something positive in whatever was happening to us–even when our son’s pain and our own impotence left us breathless, and tempted us to fall prey to disillusionment and desperation. This became even clearer on the day of our anniversary: He was there, like in every moment of our past, and as He will be forever. Every day that goes by, this happens again in my heart, thus widening the horizon of my days, and increasing my desire to be able to recognize His overwhelming presence with more certainty. I keep praying and hoping for Carlo’s healing, and my hope is not a feeling, but His presence alive among us, that shows itself powerfully and yet discreetly, because it always entrusts itself to our freedom. I can’t but thank Him for what He has done in my life, not despite everything, but because of everything. Within our sorrow, we have been the object of a great love. Initially, when I entrusted my son to the Montetauro community, I almost felt I was giving motherhood up. I felt like a failure. Throughout the years, I asked God to change my heart. I wanted this pain to generate something beautiful for my whole family; I desired happiness to be our destiny, and day by day God revealed the full and true meaning of my motherhood. He first helped me accept my own impotence, and then made me experience that which Giussani calls virginity–that is, loving an other, my son, without possession. Confronted with my need, He sent angels, and He made events happen. He answered my need in an unexpected way. The fruit of all this is that my husband and I learned to love each other, much more than when we first got married. And this shouldn’t be taken for granted.
“THE WAY YOU LOOK
AT ME IS DIFFERENT”
Imagine the scene: a little restaurant, people coming and going, and a waitress so struck by a group of clients, that she writes them a letter. Here it is.
Dear Sirs: I have been working at the restaurant for seven years, and I have been watching you for a long time. I have met all kinds of people here. There have been clients I became very fond of, so much so that I wept when I heard they were leaving. Some annoyed me by their very presence, or were hateful, while others left me totally indifferent. And then you came along: a different category. Few times in my life have I met people like you, even outside work. I appreciate you so much that I am sometimes amazed that a girl with my character (I find it hard to hide my feelings) manages not to show it. I listen to you when you are talking. I listen with great interest because what you say is always so damned intelligent. I listen to you talking of your travels, when you tell of your encounters with people of different cultures. I am astonished every time I hear you speaking on the telephone in languages sometimes unknown to me. I like to hear you talking, not only for the content, but for the form, too. It’s nice these days to hear good Italian, with conjunctives and conditionals in the right place and a vocabulary that goes beyond cars and women. However perhaps the intellectual part of you would have bored me sooner or later. Here is where the rest comes in. You make me laugh, and it is an amusement different from what I normally get here. You have no idea of how many memories I have of you, of your comments when the dishes you order are off the menu and your sketches on the paper napkins. I could fill pages with what I remember of you, but I’d better not. I’ve not finished; there is more. Though I consider myself quite a good person, and I say this without false modesty, people who come to the restaurant often treat me with very little respect. Many, and I am speaking of the group that consider themselves big knobs (or at least they think they are–bankers directors and managers), see me only as “the one who brings the plates.” Not you. I feel that you look at me in another way. For you, I am first of all a person, and that’s what I like. I don’t need complements on my paintings, or on how I dance. I just want to be seen as a person. You do this, and I thank you for it. There is more. I have got to know your families, and I have known you as a family. Wow! In a world like ours in which the building bricks of society are individuals who are an end in themselves, there is still a world like yours, where the authentic values of the past are still dominant. I see your children (and how many of them there are!) and I see good upbringing, sincerity, joy and serenity in relationship with themselves, with the family and with others. I see when you make the sign of the cross and, though I am not a believer, I am very glad to see it, because you do it so naturally, you are not ashamed to show your faith to everyone (but without making an exhibition of it). You are beautiful, genuine people. I wish there were more about. May life offer you all you deserve.
The Driving Force of School of Community
Dearest Father Carrón: I work in a ceramics factory, and I am living the drama of our economic crisis first hand. More than a month ago, our working hours were cut down, and the reduction in our salary affects me heavily at the end of the month. Initially, I reacted with anger and dejection but, later, I decided I wanted to live this circumstance in an active way: I wanted to do the work I was called to do in an even better, more precise, and more creative way. School of Community and my friends help me face this situation, not because I apply the words that we read in a theoretical way, but because both School of Community and my friends are the driving force that makes me take steps and gives meaning to my daily life. To me, this means living an obedience that is dramatically connected with reality, in order to avoid being reduced by circumstances that would, otherwise, be overwhelming. By being faithful to School of Community, I found that my humanity gained a depth previously unknown to me. We are united in this adventure.
Massimo, S. Clemente (Italy)
Saying “Yes” through Work
This is the letter one of our friends wrote to her employers, after reading the December (Vol. 10, No. 11) issue of Traces.
Dear Rita and Anna: This year, I can say I prepared for Christmas with you, because work filled most of my day, but…it was as if there was something missing; I needed to give a true meaning to everything. You know that I usually try to offer to God everything I do, and I try to do it well for Him, but this year the charitable work for AVSI I annually commit to was not going to happen. Then what? Then I got Traces, the magazine I want to give you, because it describes the ongoing experience of people who are able to live in a different way. The first article is about the meaning of work. Everything became clearer, because the first charity is offering myself to Christ in the reality that He gives me, and work is the means to say “yes” to Him.
Dearest Father Carrón: I enclose the following letter with my request of admission to the Fraternity to thank every person who, in the history of the Movement, said “yes” to Christ, thus allowing me to meet Him. I met the Movement a year ago through a schoolmate of mine. I was one year away from becoming a doctor, and I would never have thought that I could then meet the answer to my every desire. I was searching for a better way to live friendship, a true way to love, something that could fill every minute of my life, and that could give meaning to every action. In a year, my life has been totally uprooted. Many beautiful things happened, but at the same time I had to face a lot of painful situations, with the certainty that I was not alone. Now that I am entering the work force, I know that I want to “live this way,” and the companionship that was given to me is a constant reminder of this. I ask to be admitted to the Fraternity because I know I can’t but adhere completely.
Margherita, Pisa (Italy)