MAY 26 - NOVEMBER 26, 1999

Present, and thus Working

Mass with the Emilian communities to remember Enzo Picinini six months after his death. A memory that transforms life, so that Christ may be everything in everyone. The homily delivered in Modena Cathedral.


"What does the mystery of God ask of us in a trial like this of great suffering? It asks us to remember always Christ as the meaning of life, at all levels and in all fields: Christ is everything in everyone."
(Fr. Giussani, May 26, 1999)

It was in order to remember this one, great, dramatic truth that on November 26th, six months after Enzo's death (on May 26th), the Emilian (from an area of N. Italy) CL communities came together in Modena Cathedral, which he loved so much. This was a gesture in which the memory of our mutual friend and father re-emerged with all its force for change in the present.
It all arose from the impelling need we felt that the great things we learned through him continue to bear that fruit for which Enzo sacrificed his life: our conversion. The form itself of this gesture was chosen to renew the great challenge of his presence that continues to show us that ideal horizon that opposes, with the boldness of faith, the violence and falsehood of the world. After a brief visit to his grave, more than a thousand people gathered together in the Cathedral to listen to passages from the witness Enzo bore at the CLU Exercises in 1998, and then to attend Mass.
A sense of thanksgiving rises from the hearts of all for a miracle that only the experience of the Movement has made possible: a life beyond life that challenges us in the present, that changes us, converts us.
The wish that Cardinal Biffi extended to us on the day of Enzo's funeral resounds even more true and real to us now: "Today we place in the furrows of this Emilian soil the mortal body of our friend Enzo. We place it there like a seed, that is, as a promise and a certainty." The aura of this promise is beginning to dawn in the eyes and hearts of the friends who make simplicity of heart the rule of their loyalty to the charism they encountered through him.
Pier Paolo Bellini

"Yahweh's mercies are not over, his deeds of faithful love not exhausted; every morning they are renewed.… I shall put my hope in him.… It is good to wait in silence for Yahweh to save."
Faced with the dramatic manifestation of the limits and frailty of the human condition, the prophet Jeremiah starts out by remembering, "This is what I shall keep in mind and so regain some hope."
But where does a memory come from that can restore hope, a memory that is not only nostalgia?
Among the many witnesses to friendship with Enzo that I have heard in the past months, one struck me for the charge of truth that it contains. It is from Juvenal, our Peruvian friend, who never knew Enzo personally, but who writes, "I cannot help adopting for myself the words of Mounier: 'Leave open for him the door not only of memory, but also of presence and of hope.'" The memory that restores hope is certainly made up of remembrance, but a remembrance that leaves open the door of the presence.
A remembrance that is not also presence doesn't change anything, because presence is something that disturbs, a presence doesn't leave things the way they were, it moves and provokes freedom, always.
Enzo was certainly a presence like this for everyone, even for those who only met him for a few minutes. Being a closer friend to him never meant being easier about things, but was a constant process of being put back in the race that St. Paul talked about: A life like a race; a courageous tension toward learning from everything because God is everything in everybody, an indomitable faithfulness in following so that Christ may be everything in everyone.
"I run to capture the goal because I too have been captured by Jesus Christ." What made his life a presence, being in a race, is this fact of having been reached and captured by the physical fact of the Mystery present in the precariousness of a flesh, the event of the mystery present in a human encounter. The memory of Christ as a presence, for 2,000 years now, passes through the unsettling fragility of a flesh: "Whoever receives you, receives me." In the same way, the memory of Enzo as a presence passes not only and not so much through our minds (remembrance) but is a receiving of him as part of us, a presence that spreads today in the world through our own flesh. The incarnation of Christ in us takes place through the incarnation of the Church in us, through making a part of our flesh the faces, the history, the blood that Christ has used in order to generate what we are today.
What is asked of us this evening is to recognize that "Thou" which has made and makes Enzo an indispensable presence and to say "Yes" to it without yielding to the extortion and objection of our disproportion, our smallness next to his greatness.
Giussani has said, "Why do you contrast what you have with what I have? What do I have? I have simply said this 'Yes,' and it would not cost you a bit more than it costs me." This is the "Yes" of Peter, the "Yes" of Enzo, the "Yes" of Mary, whose help we ask in saying our own "Yes." Veni Sancte Spiritus…

The Event that Generates

From a talk by Enzo Piccinini to the School of Community assembly in Ravenna, May 23, 1999

We have been taught that within a great Love everything becomes Event in its sphere. Giussani is the one who has taught us this way. Everything is Event. Good things and bad things, but-and this is crucial in life-if you do not truly sense a special affection for you, you do not succeed in understanding what you do, that is, you don't love Him. You just can't manage to understand it, you resent it if things don't go your way, the fullness of life depends a great deal on what you do as well as on the result of what you do. The routine of getting up tomorrow morning to go to work is a routine you have to put up with, hoping that it will soon be over. Everything changes, instead, if there is an eye on you that gives you value and has nothing to do either with what you do or what you say or what you think, it has absolutely nothing to do with it, you are valued for what you are. The discovery that, instant by instant, there is One who makes you and wants you-Giussani, in his greeting to the Fraternity, said to be fathers and mothers-is the discovery of a fatherly presence that makes you father and mother. Life becomes an Event if you discover a merciful gaze on you; if not, then it doesn't become this. In the Christian Event everything is Event in its sphere, do you understand? Even a toothache. If we see things from this viewpoint life lights up and nothing is taken for granted any more, nothing is "routine" any more, not even something you have repeated for ten years always at the same time, is routine; it is an Event. If this merciful gaze on you becomes an experience among others, like the fact of being here now, what is this gathering? Do you realize that we are not affected any more if this gathering is not the discovery of an act of mercy on our lives? Even the fact of being here is something that makes us start in our seats, because we are inside a great Event. It is an Event of Love. What have I done to deserve this? It is a surprise in my life. To the degree to which this is true, all the details of my li fe are no longer negligible, none of them - do you understand? - none. Not even something that was done badly. This is the crucial point.