Be It Done to Me According to Your Word
From the homily of Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evagelization of Peoples
Dear brothers and sisters:
1. This year you have become pilgrims so as to live the Jubilee of Communion and Liberation, on the fiftieth anniversary of its beginning; that beginning that fifty years ago marked, and continues to mark, for each of you, the possibility for a deeper experience of God’s fatherhood, through the charism the Lord has granted to Fr Luigi Giussani. You have become pilgrims to thank the Lord of history for the beginning of a new history, the history of Communion and Liberation, lived within the great history of salvation, through which, for two thousand years, God has become part of human existence and experience.
Perhaps you found the first steps difficult, but then your hard work and efforts gave you the awareness of the journey and of the aim of your traveling: to move closer, day by day, to that place where you live the personal encounter with Christ.
2. And the Word became flesh in the womb of a young woman, Mary, and she became the first dwelling place, the first tabernacle of God in the world. We, too, have welcomed in our hearts and in our minds the God-with-us who has thus become our companion on the way. The discovery of Christ has become the fact that unsettles our life, which works, grows and continually renews itself, sustained by the power of the Spirit and enlightened by the presence of the Risen Christ.
I understand that this is the teaching of Fr Giussani, who, in October 1954, at the Berchet High School in Milan, wanted to communicate to the youngsters the beauty and the reasonability of the Christian event, just as it had struck him and won him over during his seminary years at Venegono.
In a society like that of Italy in the 1950s, still apparently deeply permeated by Catholic principles, Fr Giussani grasped with dramatic lucidity the risk of a purely formal acceptance of these principles, above all on the part of the youth.
Long before the successive developments in society and in the Church, whose outcome are now before our eyes, he perceived the drama of a reduction of the Christian Fact to a practice that is merely external. For Christians, this implied the loss of a real awareness of the foundations of the faith and of its implications for human life as a whole.
From those beginnings in October 1954, a Movement was born around Fr Giussani that embraces thousands of men and women of different generations and is now spread in over 70 countries of the five continents.
3. In his Letter to the Holy Father John Paul II, who today celebrates the 26th anniversary of his election as Successor of Peter, Fr Giussani affirms, “Not only did I have no intention of ‘founding’ anything, but I believe that the genius of the Movement that I saw coming to birth lies in having felt the urgency to proclaim the need to return to the elementary aspects of Christianity, that is to say, the passion of the Christian fact as such in its original elements, and nothing more.”
The birth and the life of Communion and Liberation can be rightly considered, as the Holy Father recalls in his Letter to Fr Giussani, “one of the buds of the promising ‘springtime’ aroused by the Holy Spirit in the last fifty years.”
In the variety of movements, associations and new communities, the charism of Communion and Liberation asks not to be defined by a particular spirituality, but by the insistence on the memory of Christ as the affirmation of the foundations of Christian experience. This memory of Christ cannot be lived if not in communion, which, in its turn, becomes the soul and the power of proposal for the whole of society.
The Holy Father has already authoritatively confirmed this intuition of Fr Giussani in the letter he sent to him on February 11, 2002, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Pontifical Recognition of the Fraternity: “The Movement wanted and wants to indicate not a road, but the road for the solution of the existential drama of human existence. The road is Christ!”
4. This is the source of the fruitfulness of an educative method capable of meeting, of fascinating, and of changing men of diverse cultures and origins, from the steppes of Kazakhstan to the skyscrapers of New York, from the universities of old Europe to the favelas of Brazil, in a flourishing of encounters; of vocations to married, priestly, and consecrated life; of educational, cultural and economic initiatives. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I have had the chance on many occasions to see personally the goodness of the formative method of the Movement, even in countries recently evangelized.
“ We will not be saved by a formula,” the Holy Father wrote in Novo Millennio Ineunte, but by a Person and the certainty that he gives us: I am with you.”
This is the core of the educative and communicative passion of the Christian experience as it is lived and proposed by the Movement. How many times, though, even in the Christian announcement, this essential truth is taken for granted, reducing it to its ethical and social consequences, or relativizing it in a confused religiosity in misconceived respect for other people’s positions.
The certainty of the event that Christ is “everything in everyone” (Col 3:11) is the source of the Church’s authentic missionary activity. It is this certainty that, as Fr Giussani recalls, “has aroused unforeseeable occasions for encounters with personalities of the world of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Protestantism and Orthodoxy, from the United States to Russia, in an impetus of embrace and appreciation of everything true, beautiful, good and right that remains in anyone who lives a belonging.”
5. Dear brothers and sisters, you have come as pilgrims to Loreto to thank the Lord for all the graces received in this first fifty years of your journey. You are here now to renew the entrustment of your persons and of the whole Movement to Our Lady, and to ask the grace of faithfulness to the charism that has so powerfully fascinated you and joined you together. In this significant hour, I make my own the wish that the Holy Father addresses to you, “Put out into the deep! Duc in altum” (Lk 5:4), because “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and for ever!”(Heb 13:8) (NMI, 1). Animated by this awareness, go on with your Movement, announcing to everyone the beauty and the joy of the encounter with the Redeemer of man; proclaim with energy the divine mercy and remind mankind, at times discouraged, that there is no need to fear because Christ is our future.
With her “yes” to the Mystery taking flesh in her, Mary is a light of dawn for all of us and for all men right up to the end, as, with unequalled poetry, Dante reminds us:
“ Here you are for us the midday torch of charity,
and below among mortals you are the living fountain