Italy GS Easter Triduum

Man Is Made for Life. Man Desires Life!
Seven thousand of them gathered in Rimini from all over Italy to take part in the three days organized by GS. Fr Giussani’s greeting: “Follow those who called you…”

by Nicola Marai and Tiziana Villa

Seven thousand youngsters are following the cross, in silence, under the rain. What do they want? They want everyone to look in the same direction, to pay a bit more attention than usual, to realize that there is nothing more mysterious than God made man who gives His life for everyone. The order, the singing, the tension of every gesture and the continuous recovery from distraction that they all lived during those three days were the most powerful reminder, which enabled us to acknowledge that something has changed, that a new factor has come onto the horizon forever.

Holy Thursday
Thursday morning (in some cases, Wednesday night) saw the departure for Rimini from the different places. A silence full of expectation, accompanied by Bruch’s Violin Concerto, welcomes us as we enter the hall. This expectation anticipates Fr Giorgio’s words, “Man is made for life, man’s desire is for life…” After a beginning like that, who wants to go away? We have already got to the point of our greatest desire and the greatest drama of our life, because we are immediately reminded that man, though made for life, chooses death: the massacre in Madrid, the Palestinian boy parceled up with TNT, the violence in everyday life. It’s true, we’ve inherited a kind of madness; it seems that man prefers to let himself die rather than to make the effort of living. God created man for happiness, yet man looks for death. Human life is a drama that these seven thousand young faces understand all too well, despite the efforts of those who would have them be stupid, uncommitted and forgetful of themselves, living, perhaps, in some artificial paradise. Whoever faces up to this drama begins to understand that man is not sufficient for himself, that he needs to be saved, that the Mystery that makes everything comes to save you by giving you back that positivity you desire and for which you are made. It’s enough to take a look around, at the people who are there, and acknowledge what is happening: it’s the beginning of a change. You realize you are in a companionship so as to fight against the evil that takes away your will to live.
At the end of the lesson, back we go to the hotel. The silence on the way, which is the true expression of wonder at the greatness we have seen, dinner together, the walk back to the Hall for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and, finally, sleep, are moments in which we are accepted totally for what we are, with no need to add anything. It is the preparation for Christ’s death and resurrection, which in the following two days will be the mystery to contemplate as the only true way for life.

Good Friday
It is the most mysterious day in life, as we are told in the morning; you can understand that God should come and work miracles, but not why He should come to suffer.
Before this mystery, we sense, however, that God took upon Himself the heaviest and most tremendous aspect of existence: suffering and death. Jesus took upon Himself the inconsistency of our being which is the origin of our incompleteness and of every evil.
We see before us so much good and so much evil. The realization of this disproportion comes to us as the true stature of man. Love is what overcomes this disproportion, the love for which Christ carries on His shoulders the evil of every man, for it is not principally a sign of suffering, but a sign of love.
In the afternoon, at the Way of the Cross, in the silence of the countryside around San Leo, the disproportion becomes a physical experience. Under the rain at the first station, feeling the cold along the way, we follow the cross because there is nothing greater than this fact: that Christ lays down His life for His friends.

Holy Saturday
Nothing is finished, because all the greatness experienced in the two previous days, which transcends the normal dimensions within which we conceive life, cries out for the dimensions of the world. No one would want to consign the beauty seen and experienced to a moment in the past. A fact that corresponds as much as the company of Christ is what is wanted everywhere there is a man. The witness of our friend Dima from Kazakhstan shows us, in all the power of its simplicity, how in every corner of the world Christ, with His company, makes life more beautiful, answering each one’s desire. Powerfully and simply, Dima affirms one thing: his life has changed. Once, he used to steal sheep in order to scrape a living; now he lectures at the university. The origin of this change was the encounter with the presence of Christ. That presence reaches us here, where we are, just like it reached him.
After the announcements and the final greetings, when some of the groups are already leaving the hall, we are called back because Fr Giussani wants to greet us. His decisive figure appears on the screen above the podium. His words are simple and clear. He wants to tell us of one condition necessary if our life is to bear fruit: that we follow what is told us by those whose life is a witness to positivity.