Stronger than Death Christianity as Victory
A wife struck by a tumor, day after day she is suffering and fading. Three children to bring up. What human positivity is there? The certainty that we are made to be happy, immediately, and that the Lord always hears our prayers and answers them, in his own time and in his own way

Dear Fr Giussani, as we take up again this years Annual Retreat we immediately come across a word that cannot eave us indifferent: happiness. To the eyes of the world someone like me is already cut out of the argument. My wife has a tumor, along with my three children I see her fading day after day. In the end you can control the pain with morphine, and before I expected, in the hardest moments I began to consider that if the Lord were to take her, she would no longer suffer and we would no longer see her suffering.
The other temptation is to ask the miracle of healing only so as to change the circumstances, which seem to me not an occasion for conversion, but an unbearable burden.
I have been doing it every day for over a year, with a fidelity greater than faith itself.
But something in me agrees at once with what Cesana said, “To want to be happy means to want it now, with what I have, not living time as an indefinite interval that separates from what is waiting for me.” I, too, want to try to imitate Our Lady, to respect God’s freedom. For my life could be still shuffled like a deck of cards, and yet still go on with the same circumstances as today for ten days, ten months or ten years. I want to believe firmly what you have always taught us, in other words that not only is reality not evil, but that everything, really everything that happens to us is for our good. This is the Christian paradox. If we believe in the one God who has become flesh, we are condemned to a positive prejudice about reality. But it is an advantageous prejudice because life is more human, more beautiful.
This is what makes me able to speak about happiness, even now. A promise has been made to me and my heart has already experienced that it is reasonable to believe in this promise. I could quote a hundred foretastes of happiness that have lightened my time like lamps. I remember one of those little stories you brought us up with years ago and that has always guided me like the pole star. We are like soldiers at the front line, suddenly given leave go home, who undertake a dangerous journey, traveling through the mud under enemy fire, with mortar bombs and bullets whistling all around. These remnants have one certainty: one person–whose word they may not doubt–has assured them that whatever happens they will manage to reach home. The prospect of the journey changes completely; the bullets are still flying, but inside the heart is singing. I think that this heart that is singing in the storm has more to do with happiness than a thousand human certainties.
I can no longer limit myself to giving just medical bulletins to those people ask me for news, not even the most cynical and distant colleagues. I want to try to tell them that the hope rooted in my heart is also for them; that most of the cares that stifle us are just small things; that by having a purer gaze at our life we should all be less inclined to lament and more ready to be thankful for the many things we have. Then I leave diplomacy aside and ask everyone–even non-believers–to pray for me and for my family. Then to those who object that my prayers seem to have no effect, I answer as best I can what you tell children in your book on prayer: “If it seems that God isn’t listening to us, it is only to teach us truly to have trust in Him. He knows if what we are asking for is good, and he knows when it is good to give us what we ask. We can ask Him for things that seem to be good, but the Lord, who sees all things, can understand that they would not be good, or that there is something else that would be even better. If we insist in asking God for the things that seem right, then we always get something beautiful and great for our lives: either what we imagine or what God knows.” This quote of yours is the only thing I managed to answer to a friend of mine, a mother who had lost her child in the cot and had asked me to explain God’s deafness to her prayers to save it. Now it’s my turn. Clearly the mission I am called to consists in repeating these things.
Dear Fr Giussani, it’s late at night and I’m tired. How nice it would be to rest a while in your arms. Because life is hard, and even more so when you have to live it in the face of death every day. It is like walking on the edge of a precipice. The nice thing about reality is that it doesn’t cheat on you, but keeps bringing you down to earth; but it’s also the great sign that refers you back to an Other, because it is to be loved just as it is, because it is.
Guess who taught me this! You see, I have a biological mother, who gave birth to me; and then I have another mother who regenerated me and gave me all that I need for facing life as a man. This other mother is you, even though they all insist on calling you “father”.
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