The Answer for Man

The address to the CL National Council in Milan, November 18, 2000


The other day, my aunt (75 years old, average faith, from the Brianza area) said to me, “This time God has hardly been fair to you.” I answered her–and answered myself–that God did not kill my wife; my wife was killed by human error and a series of circumstances that, brought all together, could define human life as being under the dominion of a cruel and unjust fate.
The event, instead, is what, in the face of this absolute lack of resources, that is to say, the fact that man’s limits lead him not only into error, but also inevitably to death–which is the ultimate price we all have to pay–in the face of human limits, introduces a resource, which is attested to above all by the evidence of a human experience that does not give in to these limits, and thus as the certainty of the substance of one’s own being and one’s own life that cannot be suppressed, and then as a hope that the ultimate aspect of this limitation, which is death, will also be overcome. The event is this. I am talking about the event as we ascertain it in personal relationships (as I knew it) and then as the experience of a people, as the surge of awareness of a people who felt a cry breaking forth because of the presence of this event and whose cry has been answered.
I believe that the events of this summer (World Youth Day, the Meeting [for Friendship Between Peoples in Rimini], the Leaders’ International Assembly), these things that we call signs which have struck our lives and our shared experience, attest to this eruption of the event, that is of the response to man who is conscious of his inabilities, of his lack of resources. There is no event of salvation except in the awareness that without Christ, that is, without God, life is impossible.
All those with whom we come in contact, even in the most banal aspects of existence and almost without our realizing it–because we do not even realize that we are the bearers of this fact–perceive precisely this: the life that runs within this fact that is inconceivable for the world, which is that there is an answer to man’s ultimate question.
And this is mercy, the event is mercy, as Father Giussani has been repeating to us for months, that is, this otherwise impossible rebuilding of everyone’s personal life. Now, whoever comes near us, on one hand, becomes aware of this possibility and remains obscurely fascinated by it, because he doesn’t think about it or doesn’t understand, and on the other hand opposes it, fights it, because the world does not recognize its own incapacity and its own limits. After a fact like what happened to me, it is very strange to see how you perceive the stupidity and inconsistency of everything that occurs, and how your sensibility is changed. The world does not want to think about this, and then it doesn’t accept it; it accepts it even less the more full of power it is, and in this sense there is a very strong and radical opposition to us, which, however, always goes hand-in-hand–as I was saying–with the fact that, in any case, it obscurely attracts.
What we must do, in my opinion, what we must help each other to do, is not so much to force–so to speak–the event, feeling somehow that we must make it happen, as it is to describe it, to describe what has happened. I am always struck by this continuous reflection which Father Giussani carries on about what has happened in his life (and in his life so many things have happened!) as part of this event. This description is the task of education; and our mission is to testify, and thus to be able to describe, to be able to explain, continually and in its radicality, this fact that has happened to us. Because if we give in to what, in the final analysis, everybody wants, and that is to see a world without the cross, without a cry, and thus, in the end, without need, as the outcome of a construction of oneself, as one’s own construction, if we give in to this, whatever we do we fail in our task. Our task is precisely to show how reality really is, how great the cry is that is contained in reality and how powerful is the answer. And education is this. I think of something like the Companionship of Works, in which man is involved in building something that apparently can fulfill him. The Companionship of Works is a reality in which the dynamic tension between the entreaty and the event bursts forth; it doesn’t matter that so many are involved in it for their own interests, or that they may be atheists. What is certain is that a human aura is being created, an aura of a search for humanity, which is the Movement. The Movement is not a machine into which one inserts pre-manufactured pieces that will make the gears of this machine keep on turning; the Movement is people who are seeking.
We must be able to describe this event to ourselves and others, know how to explain it to ourselves and others. This is the unending work of education and, as I see it, the work to which we have fundamentally been called, because it is also the announcement, the mission, that is, to make men understand that this event exists.


One last observation. I was very struck by a passage from Father Giussani’s talk to last year’s National Council: “What happens with us is something that has already happened!” The event has happened, and therefore it happens. That is, the event is not like a series of spikes or spurs that emerge during periods of absence, but the event is a flow, it is a continuation of “that” point in time, which by its manifestation and spread combines mysteriously with man’s freedom. I say this to underline the urgency of faithfulness to our charism, which is the continuing urge to our freedom to adhere, because then the heart of the matter is this obedience, the simplicity of this obedience to the continuing flow of the event.