Adventure of Witness
On March 22nd, in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference and Pope’s Vicar for the Rome Diocese celebrated Mass marking the 30 days after Fr. Giussani’s death. “You can bring Jesus if you are fascinated by Him.” We offer here Cardinal Ruini’s homily
by Camillo Ruini
We are gathered here to pray with the most efficacious prayer, the sacrifice of Christ. We pray for Fr. Giussani on this Holy Tuesday, which introduces us into the mysteries of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, mysteries that so animated the life of the founder of Communion and Liberation as to make them the center of his educational proposal. We pray for Fr. Giussani on this thirtieth day after his death, that the Lord may accept the offering of his entire life, his long dedication, and his donation to the Church, which have already borne so much fruit in the history of men, and will bear even richer fruit in time to come. It is not by chance that the Lord compared the life of those who follow Him to a grain of wheat that, fallen into the earth, brings forth great fruit (Jn 12:24).
The days immediately following the death of Fr. Luigi Giussani have been for us and, through the newspapers and television, for Italians and many men of the world, the occasion of a dual testimony: first of all, the witness by the Movement of Communion and Liberation and, more in general, the friends of Fr. Giussani, to the education they have received. The containment and the sad serenity with which those days were lived by tens of thousands of members of the Movement, the beauty of the songs during the Eucharistic celebration, the order, the concentration, and the silence enabled many to discover the true face of CL, the deeper one, which certainly is not drawn back from society, but profoundly rooted in God and His Son.
The beauty of Christianity
Those days were also a testimony to Fr. Giussani, to the authentic popularity of his person. Son of a socialist father, who loved beauty and reason, and of a deeply Christian mother, he expressed with his life an existentially vivid and faithful grounding in the tradition of the Church, together with the need that it be vitally encountered by the men of our time. Fr. Giussani expressed the truer needs that mark the distant and recent history of our country, demands for freedom and solidarity. At times these words have divided Italians, but Fr. Giussani’s teaching was able to reach the deepest expectations, freeing them from all those crystallizations induced by the ideologies that wreaked so much havoc to our Europe in the last century.
As many people have documented for me in these weeks, the loss of Fr. Giussani has been for many who probably had heard about CL, but certainly hadn’t known deeply the life and work of this priest from Brianza, an occasion for rediscovering the beauty of Christianity revived by the figure of a priest profoundly incarnated in our time. Our country and our Church need these personalities who can illuminate its history and recreate the Christian humanism that still permeates many sectors and layers of our life.
The sense of faith of the Christian people has caught, in this difficult situation, almost by instinct, the truth of the experience of Fr. Giussani. It has sensed in him a point of reference and, in his experience, the echo of God’s promise to man. The days of his death and burial were painful and thus also, to a certain degree, daunting; at the same time, they represented an occasion of light. The definitive word Fr. Giussani said with his death was not “the end,” but “life”–as in the beautiful song that is at the origin of the Movement, and which he re-proposed many times, “All of life asks for eternity.”
The work of the Spirit
How will Fr. Giussani’s work continue? It is not merely the work of a man, but of a man chosen by God, thus the work of the Spirit. The Spirit chooses men and realizes His design through their life, temperament, and the particulars of their existence. The work of the Spirit has within itself a vitality that is the sign of its origin from God. For this reason, the work of Fr. Giussani is destined to continue in time. He is present among us because he said “yes” to the Spirit of Christ; what he began continues involving other people with the same dynamic of the beginning: it is the dynamism of the Church.
For this reason, I wish to express my congratulations for the election last Saturday, March 19th, the Feast of Saint Joseph, in which the Central Diaconia of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation chose as its President Fr. Julián Carrón, whom Fr. Giussani had called as his principal collaborator about a year ago. He concelebrates with us today. I greet him with particular affection and wish to express support and sympathy in the delicate task that awaits him. Fr. Giussani is sustaining him from heaven. I am certain that he will not lack the advice of so many friends and the trust of the Movement.
The thank-you of the Church
New responsibilities now await CL in the Church and in society, but one above all is fundamental to all the others: bringing Jesus to men, as Fr. Giussani did all his life long. You can bring Jesus if you are fascinated by Him, intimately convinced by His person, who reaches us principally through the sacraments, and you are fascinated by Him if you can meet Him in other people. This is the circular process that constitutes the soul of the pedagogical itinerary of CL.
Dear brothers and friends, as I conclude, permit me to say in the name of the Diocese and of the Italian Church, thank you, Fr. Giussani, thank you for having spent your entire life in the engaging and fascinating journey of witnessing to Christ, center and source of life, a lived journey, a gift, explained and realized for thousands of men and women in so many countries of the world. The thanks expressed in the Holy Father’s handwritten message on the occasion of the funeral is now renewed and becomes a prayer for the entire Movement.