INSIDE america

To Build the Church

We do not run away from any circumstance. We are not afraid to deal
with anything. On the contrary, we live the circumstances of life more passionately,
squeezing from them the hope that does not disappoint

When Fr. Giussani was asked whether he was not anguished to see the small number of faithful Catholics in certain areas of public life, he replied as follows: “Certainly, the pain is great. However, the certainty that Christ is the answer to all the problems of human life brings me tranquility. Christ, who is alive in the present, allows the creation of a relationship with people which, without judgments of any kind, involves you in relationships with men and women that engages them with the proposal that nourishes your life. Men and women will come together for this. A different climate emerges in the social atmosphere. The pastoral concerns for recovering lost ground and such things end up by treating the Church as an organization, agency, office, or even political party. But the Church is mystery…We must only be concerned about announcing Christ, so as to bring together men and women in the name of Christ and confront history together with them. A great network of relationships is born from this, and its ‘successes’ or human failures are in the hands of the Father. Let God sort it out Himself. It is not for us to judge if someone does or does not respond to the call of Christ. We must simply exalt the Church” (Il Sabato, August 9, 1988).
The question facing us who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ today is this one: “Does our faith interpret adequately the characteristic experiences of post-modern men and women and, if so, how?” We really should not speak of facing a “crisis” of faith. Instead, we should be aware of having a task before us.

This world, such as it is at this moment, with all that it means to be human in such a time, has already been embraced by the event of Christ. His glory is already present in this historical moment, touching the freedom of the people of our time, calling that freedom to respond. No circumstance can prevent this. This world is embraced by His victory, interwoven in a sublime way by Grace and Liberty. Our task is to recognize this Presence, to live by it, to live the freedom and happiness to which it gives birth, and to be its witnesses to others. All else is in the hands of the Father.

We do not run away from any circumstance. We are not afraid to look at anything or deal with anything. On the contrary, we look more intensely; we live the circumstances of life more passionately, squeezing from them the hope that does not disappoint.
We are not blind to the obstacles to this hope today. Still, it is the grace and freedom of Christ present today that allow us to recognize and see the obstacles of this “historical epoch.” We have learned to see, as Fr. Giussani saw, the power of a prevalent way of looking at reality that is the mortal enemy of our destiny, the nihilism that threatens all, including us. We can see all of this clearly, and it saddens us, but we are aware that if we can see this, it is only because we have experienced something that allows us to see more, to recognize the Presence of “something more.”

“I see what you see, but I see more,” Father Giussani said.
The task before us today is to sustain before us the vision of this “more,” this opening of the human horizon to Infinity. Our task is to confirm the presence of the Mystery in spite of the “enmity” of a way of looking at reality that excludes it. The Mystery, the “something more” has become a reality within our world, within history, so that it can be encountered and allowed to educate our looking at reality. This “something more” now has a human face, a body, a human way of being present. It is Jesus Christ.

Our task is to be educated in how to respond to the experience of having encountered His Presence. The victory over nihilism depends on following the method through which the Mystery has entered the world in Christ in order to jump-start our freedom and rescue us from nihilism.
Christianity is the recognition of the Mystery through a companionship, a friendship, a belonging that educates us to recognize the man Jesus of Nazareth as the “Face” of the Mystery, of a loving Father. This is the experience of John and Andrew, communicated to us today through the creation of a community of friendship, a communion called the Church. Our task is not a cultural battle as such, even if others see it that way and struggle against us and we must resist. Our task is to build the Church. The rest is in the Father’s hands.