Our Progress Does Not Consist in Presuming We Have Arrived, but in Striving Constantly
Towards the Goal
next Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples is the 25th edition and it coincides
with the 50th anniversary of the birth of Communion and Liberation, two important
anniversaries that offer an opportunity for looking back at their history. All
those taking part, and who have taken part, in the preparation of the Meeting—more
than two thousand people every year—are enthusiastic to celebrate this
silver jubilee of the foundation with verve, with joy, with the certainty of
having made progress, but without the presumption of having already reached the
Here is the exhortation contained in a letter of St Bernard to the Benedictine
monks of St Bertin, which is the inspiration for the title of the coming Meeting.
It is particularly suited for the celebration of this anniversary, for the stimulus
it contains is never to stop. “Run, brothers, so as to reach the goal.
You will reach it if you understand that you are not yet there.” Here he
speaks of the goal, the aim, and resolution and commitment are implied.
Every goal presupposes a commitment that man be alert in pursuing it, with the
intelligence and freedom he is granted, but never satisfied, as it were, with
what he has achieved. This febrile and productive movement—the opposite
of satisfied and over-fed idleness—is nourished in the certainty that the
goal is not something to take possession of; but also in the certainty that the
effort to progress would be useless, were it not accompanied by a supreme goal
towards which to get moving. For, existentially, the condition for peace does
not come from hoarded-up fortunes, but from discovering oneself in relationship
with the Infinite—the meaning, origin and goal of our lives.
Man asks himself if any conquest, even if it be a positive contribution to the
betterment of human conditions, is able to placate the unquenchable desire for
good that is in him. In this sense, progress cannot consist in the presumption
of having already arrived, but in tending more and more to knowledge of the Mystery
that generates and governs life.
Recognizing the Christian claim—that this Mystery, God, has become man—is
what allows us to accept a continuous tension. “Acknowledging and following
Christ thus generates a characteristic, existential attitude in which man is
an upright, indefatigable walker towards a goal he has still not reached, certain
of the future because wholly rooted in His presence” (Fr Giussani).
The image of a man walking, which in Christianity is expressed by the Latin word
viator, pilgrim, is the most explicit expression of our existential form.
The certainty of being on the right road is what makes it reasonable to hope,
to hope to reach the goal. But the certainty of being on the right road makes
the present fully productive, too. The journey itself becomes productive, our
dissatisfaction becomes vitally productive, because its unflinching quest is
positive, its curiosity is insatiable, and its desire is a burning one, to sift
everything and to hold on to what is good, with a critical and constructive spirit.
All this is given to the Christian. For him the power of his life’s meaning
is revealed in the density of time. Consequently, the value of freedom, today
much mistaken and misunderstood, consists in putting into play all the forces
available for desiring your own fulfillment in time, before the Infinite, without
the presumption of being able to possess it or measure it.