Generation,  a Present Act

On March 22, 1998, Enzo was invited to the Easter Retreat of the Movement in Argentina. During a witness he gave, he spoke of his CL responsibilities. These pages include notes from that talk, as well as some letters and testimony honoring our great friend who has recently left us


Siena 1982. During a trip with University students from Bologna. Enzo reads the first Easter flyer: "Christ is God's company to man."
Three years ago. Giussani changed the Movement's structure. He institued a figure that already existed in the Gruppo Adulto for some time now: that of the visitor. But not a visitor like "visitors from outer space" that we see on television. Since Father Giussani cannot visit all the countries where the Movement is present, he has chosen some people who are very close to him, and who, wherever they go, do what he would do. It is a pretty big job for those who have to do it. I am one of these visitors. Italy is divided into three parts, so Italy has three visitors for the whole country. I try to follow, and I hope God gives me the strength for it, for more than 20,000 persons. It is an enormous task. For the intensity that the Movement possesses, it's an enormous task. It's already hard to keep up with a community like this one, so just think what it's like! I asked Father Giussani what "visitor" means-because I didn't know-and I also said to him: "If I am a visitor I always have to talk to you." However... I saw that everybody got to talk to him but I never did. So I asked him, "What kind of visitor am I?" To see Father Giussani is something very special, because he takes the Movement seriously-not like us. When I was younger I often acted as his driver, because he liked the way I drive. So one day he said, "Would you be my driver again?" One Monday that I didn't have to operate, I got in the car and went to get Father Giussani, thus discovering that he too was a visitor. He did it in three houses of the Gruppo Adulto. It was amazing. When we got to the first house, one of Gruppo Adulto women, he rang the bell and when they opened the door he said, "Excuse me-I am Father Giussani-I don't want to bother you, our meeting was supposed to be Wednesday but I wanted to ask you if it could be today. Please forgive me, I don't want to throw off the rhythm of your house." I thought, if he came to my house I would throw open all the doors, if he came to my house I would say to him, "Come whenever you want!"
But he did things this way. Later, when the meeting started, it was an amazing thing to hear him talk. He knew all the girls, one by one, and asked them things like, "How is your father? Does he take his medicine?" This is only an example. There was a bond between them, an affection that I had never seen. So we visited three houses, all the same way. That night, on the way back to his house, Giussani asked me, "Did you understand?" and I answered, "I'm beginning to understand." You can "be a visitor," but in the last analysis being a visitor means "being of the Movement," loving everything and doing everything with that belonging in your heart and your mind, with that capacity for bonding that is called fatherhood. The visitor's challenge is to maintain every relationship like an open wound; it's called conversion. Even in your family it is necessary to be a visitor, and in your workplace, boys with their girlfriends have to be visitors. It is necessary to keep open this wound called conversion. This is the way the Movement is born for us; that is, new relationships. This is the challenge, this is the way the Movement continues to be a novelty, an intensity of experience that in one blow eliminates all divisions. This group here, that group there: what does it matter?! The problem is my conversion and helping to make it happen. This, over time, produces extraordinary results. First, because we will be able to work more together to make this society more human. But for this we need patience…. As I was saying before, I always wanted to talk with Father Giussani and he never gave me a chance to. He talked to everybody except me. I would say to him, "You know, it doesn't seem right to me to talk about certain things in front of everybody," that is, during Presidents' Council (this is the council of all the top leaders, who meet once a week to deal with all the problems of the Movement). One day during this meeting, Father Giussani, as soon as he came in, said, "There is somebody here who doesn't trust us."
So I thought, "Could this be me?" When Giussani wants to correct something he doesn't put too fine a point on things! He went on, "... the one who doesn't trust us needs everything to be in order before he can speak, but he only wants to talk to me, he doesn't want to do it with all of us." So then I understood. It is not a problem of being or not being sincere, it's a matter of communion. What kind of unity do we have if we can't manage to be sincere about the things we love? When the meeting was over I went up to Father Giussani and said to him, "I understand, now I understand." And he replied (and I'll never forget these words, because I was moved by them), "Now, whenever you want, come and we'll talk."

"He will operate more than ever"

Dear Father Giussani: I am writing to you just a little more than a week after my father's death. I wanted to tell you that when my friends told me the news, the harsh news, I was furious, because the first thing I thought was to make every attempt to save him, to bring him back, something that was obviously and heartbreakingly impossible. The first thing you told me when we saw each other was, "He will operate more than ever," and later, "He is more present than ever." Now I have the impression, thinking over many details, that everything was very carefully prepared for his death. Everything: the friends he had around him at work (where he had reached the height of success), at the university, in the Movement, and with the family. Even the garden, that he really cared about, had in some way reached perfection. In these days, also because of my mother's amazing availability, so many people have come to see us or written to us, telling us thousands of things about how Enzo had operated and made an impression, everywhere and in every field. Some university students have been like brothers for the way in which, with courage and discretion, they have shared this great pain with us. With these people, for me there can no longer be any half-measures, but our friendship can be conceived only as a mission. Now my desire is to tell everyone about what has happened, because here miracles take place. I wanted to thank you because if this is possible, it is because of what you taught us and continue to teach us. I hope to see you soon,


The Tie that Binds

Dearest Father Giussani: "Enzo gave his life for us; now his family is ours." Moved by this comment of yours, we went to visit the tomb of our friend Enzo. Fiorisa, Pietro, Maria, and some young people were waiting for us at the door of the little church in Portile where we celebrated Mass. José Miguel, Javier, Paco, Rafa, and I brought with us everyone who would have wanted to be there. Here in Spain we have spontaneously begun to feel that Enzo is a protector of the Movement's unity, and to ask him to intercede for that "tie which is an authentic glory" in the world. When we went into that small cemetery and saw where Enzo was laid to rest, the perception of the greatness of his father was overwhelming to us: "Who is man who seems like nothing, if You are not mindful of him? You have made him little less than You, You have crowned him with glory, You have given him a dignity that is unique." We wept for the greatness of this nothing that has been rendered eternal and dear. There was his beautiful mother and his brother's family. At a certain point, Fiorisa said to us, "I am bound to Enzo's mother by a great admiration, and we care very much about each other. Without her, I would never have been able to live the life I had with Enzo. I have lived alone a lot, and she always gave me strength and encouraged and helped me. She taught me to cook. Together with her I was able to live in my place, and I owe a great deal to her." In that moment, for the ease with which women can identify with each other, I perceived the luminous, infinite, discreet greatness of Fiorisa, who "as though God had wanted to create a being capable of recognizing that He is all, stood before us like an echo of the inner Glory of the Mystery."

Carmen, Madrid

A Miracle that Turned out Well
A letter written in October 1997 by a patient who had been operated on by Enzo

Dear Enzo: I am a miracle that turned out well; in fact I am really well. I have resumed work and all the rest is coming along at a more or less normal pace. Everyone is amazed at how I am. I am writing to you to express my gratitude, because the relationship with you has been very important in these months, and I am convinced that I would not have recovered in this way if you hadn't helped me the way you have. From the moment I met you and saw you in action, I have been struck by the way you face reality, and from the beginning I adhered to this position of yours that convinced me, because looking in the same direction you were looking corresponded to me. I followed you, even when death was a prospect that was so close I could almost touch it. The things you said to me, the course you had me follow (the result of an attention and a freedom in the face of the signs by which the reality was revealed) and your presence allowed my self to "be there," because it was continually called into play. It was the experience of being able to look at my own "I" and the needs of my heart with tenderness, and to accept thus also the provocation of the moments of unease, sustaining their dramaticness and staying with them all the way to the end. I have in mind many moments scattered throughout the period of my hospital stay and convalescence that, with your direct help or remembering the suggestions you gave me, are ineradicable milestones on my journey. In a word, I wanted to express to you my appreciation, not only for taking me into your ward (a completely positive experience for me) and for risking so much personally (as Father Giussani says, "more than anybody"), allowing this miracle to take place, but also for the preciousness of the relationship with you that has meant for me the surprise of an affinity and the serendipity of meeting a friend who understands completely your human self and who cares about what happens to you.
Maybe anybody whose life has been saved is grateful to the person who was the instrument of it, but it seems to me in my case to be something more, because you did not take care "only" (!) of my intestine; the biggest help was the one that has to do with my "I" and its impact with reality, above all with ourselves. For this you have become very dear to me; I am fond of you. I don't know what this means beyond the circumstance that brought us together, but perhaps it means what Father Giussani said at our retreat which is, that "ties, insofar as they are lived well, are for eternity."

Carla, Milan

Fraternal Friend and Demanding Teacher
The testimony read by the student representative at the council of the course for the degree in medicine, during the commemoration of Enzo Piccinini. Bologna, June 9, 1999

On May 26, 1999, in a horrific automobile accident, Dr. Enzo Piccinini, a member of this faculty since 1980, was killed. In these years, whoever had occasion to meet him cannot forget the dedication and tenaciousness with which he faced every circumstance he was called upon to live. His time on earth, lived with a total devotion to the Christian faith which he had rediscovered in his encounter with the Communion and Liberation Movement, was an example of how the ideal was for him not an abstract idea, but a tension that was concretely effective in his life, his profession, his human relationships. It is in this ideal that we must find the true source of his unending passion for constant professional improvement, a passion that led him to maintain close working relationships with prestigious and outstanding institutions like Harvard University, the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, the University of South Florida, the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. This same desire for improvement had taken concrete form lately also in our medical school, in two important seminars, which he strongly promoted: "Who is teaching, and What" and "Light and Shadows of a Coming Reform: What Future for Medical Care?" In Dr. Piccinini scientific capacity was paired with an attentive involvement in the person. For this reason, so many of his patients found in him, in a difficult moment in their lives, not only an excellent surgeon, who often had the courage to give hope even when it would have been simpler to give up, but also a real friend and someone full of humanity, open to sharing every aspect of their human need. His closest collaborators and students remember him for his ability to cancel out the distance created by hierarchy and for his passion for teaching, which led him to be at the same time a fraternal friend and a demanding teacher. Teaching for him meant "educating" through a relationship in which along with scientific knowledge he transmitted also a passion for the profound truth of every aspect of the real.
We hope that this heritage of professionality and humanity will not be lost and that the path he blazed can be followed by us, the new generations, with equal fervor and faithfulness.

Cross and Resurrection

Dear Father Giussani: We are close to you in your grief at Enzo Piccinini's death. We feel this pain also with Chiara, Enzo's sister and ours. We know how dear Enzo was to you and how valuable he was to the Movement. The certainty that God is greater than our heart sustains us in the hope that the sacrifice of one will flow back into salvation for all. I was able to talk on the telephone with Chiara-in our Trappist community in Venezuela-and with Enzo's mother. How much truth and profundity of faith I found in this elderly woman who has already been so tried by the events of life! I was struck by the way Enzo died; it made me think of how, just as his adherence to Christ in his life was all-encompassing, so was the snuffing out of his life: like a sacrifice. He, who had so cared for and served the body of others, saw his own body consumed like an offering for the work of the Lord. But what can death take from a life that has already been given? Is not this already the victory? The gift and the delivering up of oneself, in every circumstance in life, to the Church, is this not already the beginning of the resurrection, even in the cross that Christ chooses for us, for the salvation of all? Enzo pointed out the path so many times, and he confirmed it in his supreme moment: every moment of life is an offering, so that Christ may transform our finiteness into His glory. May this glory shine so that each of us may be comforted by it, because, for not having run after artificially invented fables one gives one's life, as it is worth it to do so. In the certainty that only Christ can give I embrace you, with a great affection for you, with the desire that we too can always be truer in our offerings. Bless me along with all the sisters.

Sister Rosi, convent of Vitorchiano

An Uppercut to the Chin

Dear Giussani: At the origin of this letter is Enzo, the judgment that Enzo is on our life. And I must say straight off thank you for your message-after a few hours of being stunned, the news of his death was like an uppercut to the chin-your message and the last lines where you, like a good father, pulled us immediately back from that evil and disgusting temptation, the fruit of the mentality that is unwary of the world, which is desperation: "Thus we ask also Enzo" you wrote us at the end of that letter, "to help us remember all of this, before the world assails our heart and destroys in it all positiveness and thus all hope."
"All this" is the overabundance of that hundredfold here below which we see, touch, experience. "All this," at least I feel, "is Grace; in this humanity of ours that has been rendered imperfect by the reality of sin, Grace is the charism of the Movement, it is the volo ut sis of Christian friendship which I see, feel, and understand, not because I read it in Saint Augustine, but because I belong to the Movement. The hundrefold here below, the taste for reality, for things, for the world, creation, true possession: it is precisely the Infinite that has taken up dwelling in our midst, this thing that is so full of shortcomings and yet so perfect, which is the Fraternity.

Luigi, Milan

From Brother to Sister

Ciao Picci: I am writing you right before your exam (here it's 1:46 p.m.). Break a leg! Really. I have picked things up again here in Lugano, even if it's pretty hard to do so, and sometimes I too have my head in the air. At certain moments it seems to me that I can't really realize everything that has happened. Then certain faces come into my mind (especially those of papa's best friends, those who took him seriously at least once), so that I cannot help admitting that our father's fatherhood will always be there for us because it consisted completely of the ideal to which he and with his friends gave his whole life. Their whole life. I feel very small, but I understand, piercingly, that now more than ever I am called upon to bring to Lugano and wherever I am what papa is. I am willing to give everything to strengthen, especially among us children, the friendship, unity, and decision to love Christ that our father aroused in us. Please help me understand papa's greatness. I love you. I'll talk to you soon and... don't worry because not even you in China are alone. Ciao.


Two Hours of Dialogue

I met Dr. Enzo Piccinini in the outpatient clinic of Sant'Orsola hospital in Bologna on April 14, 1999; I had gone to see him for an examination. After two hours of dialogue I came out of the clinic with an adequate diagnosis and a serene state of mind. I had the sensation of having met not only a doctor, but a great person, profound and direct, concrete, human, capable of transmitting in a short time something that I was not able to pin down right then. I hope that I will remember his words, his examples. From that day on, I have asked myself lots of questions, remembering what he said to me. On May 28th, a friend of mine who knew him well told me about his death; when I heard it, I tried to talk to people who had known him, and I found some answers to my questions. I now know that he was a great man because of his immense love for Christ and for what he was able to transmit to others.

Carla, Forlì

Given the impossibility of doing it personally, Fiorisa, Chiara, Maria, Pietro, and Anna Rita, filled with gratitude and wonder, thank all their friends for being so close to them in this time of trial.

The Piccinini Family