Loving in Order to Live

The CL University (CLU) Students’ Equipe was held in La Thuile, Italy, from September 5th to 8th, gathering about five hundred young people from all over the world together to share the desire of their hearts and the answer that fulfills it


From September 5-8, 2002, five hundred Communion and Liberation university students came to La Thuile not only from Italy but also Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, England, Switzerland, and Mexico. They came together because they are full of desire, interests, and passions, together to start the academic year, together to take their lives seriously.

Called by an event of certainty, the heart desires, the heart loves and becomes attached. All this lasts in time, as Fr Pino vehemently repeated in the crowded auditorium where we were gathered: “The heart desires that what I love and what strikes me may be kept alive and be fulfilled.”

Our time together–lessons, testimonies, meetings, soccer games, dinners, and evening events–had as its focal point this dramatic evidence.

Living fountain
These were three full days, in which above all a friendship ripened that began and grew in the various university classrooms, and with it ripened also the awareness of its origin and its meaning.

In this sense, Vittadini’s account of the beginning of the Movement in the United States was fantastic: a long list of names, cities, and things that happened. The various apparently casual encounters he told about, which brought people who live hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of miles apart to share the beauty of a new “hope,” were truly moving.

“You are the living fountain of hope,” we have heard Gius repeat in recent weeks, quoting Dante and opening us up to the significance of the figure of Our Lady. This is a hope that is founded, just like for Americans in New York or Oregon, Illinois or Colorado, on the Event of an unexpected encounter that unequivocally binds you.

It is an encounter, just like it was for Tommy, a medical student, when he told us about the hundreds of people he met at the preparatory courses for the admission exam to the University of Milan in the last weeks of August: “… an encounter that asks nothing more than to attach our lives.”

But what is this about? What is hidden in this existential impact between the desire for fulfillment that abounds in everyone’s heart and the unexpectedness of an encounter in reality that surprises you? In the beginning you know only that it is something beautiful. Fr Pino spoke of a difference that invests all of life; “This beauty to which you attach your life is Christ’s manifesting Himself.” “In the beginning, it can seem like just a name,” Tommy concluded, “but bit by bit it becomes a powerful relationship with a living and present person,” who, Andrea of Florence added, “remains in our everyday life.”

Life takes on a new savor. In this encounter, the heart has the accent of an answer, an answer to the cry that is every man’s cry, the cry of all the world and of all time.

Notes in the auditorium
It is a dynamic that, Widmer said, preparing us to listen to Mozart’s Coronation Mass, makes us feel that even a person who lived centuries ago, like this musical genius, is close to us and a friend.

As we heard the words of Tradition and the notes resonating through the auditorium, the comparison with our own lives became fascinating for each of us, and we felt promptly solicited by it. During the assembly, Cesana spurred us on to realize what has happened to us, because only in this event does all of life take on meaning.

The experience of the encounter was the same for Isa in Bologna, and for Maria, a student from the Università Cattolica in Milan, who, feeling timorous and vulnerable at finding herself alone to study in Ireland, rediscovered the beauty of the encounter she had had at the university and of the relationships that grew out of it, far away from home and with persons who were completely unknown.

In the stories and in the assembly with Cesana, what the encounter with Christ brings into our lives began to emerge with a little more awareness.

Certainly, there are difficulties and toils; the burden of human life (made up of studies, exams, parents, girlfriends, career choices) weighs on us, but we realize that before all of this comes the recognition of something else, something strange and much greater, which is that each of us is “sent” with a purpose, called to a responsibility.

The thrust we have in front of our eyes and that becomes an immediate proposal is already completely contained in the dynamic of the encounter with Christ. Whatever gestures and works may be constructed in the university, “either it is mission or it becomes violence.”

It was easy for us, in this way, to decide (but it would be more correct to say re-decide) in the face of similar testimonies; it would be inhumanly impossible to remain in one’s place and just “survive.” The Event that has changed our lives manifested Itself in these three days with an immense shock wave, burrowing into our hearts and sweeping the dross away with the force of His embrace.

Thus, it became meaningful to meet with our friends from our own university before or during dinner, to look each other in the face, to pull out our truest questions and our discoveries, clarify, help each other, imagine our own future.

We realized that we were in front of the evidence of a recognized Event: within Christ’s embrace is already all the drama of my inability and at the same time of my freedom that makes me great. It is the challenge of the poor man! This is the challenge of the one who recognizes His initiative working on him and gives Him everything, because only He can bring it to fulfillment.

A man like this lives as a protagonist; he is sure: “I am confident of this, that the One who began a good work among you will bring it to completion” (St Paul).

“This is the hope; this is why we are friends,” we said to each other, taking up Gius’ address at the Meeting in Rimini: hope, that is to say, “certainty in the future by virtue of a present realty, which is Christ, certainty filled with gratitude and entreaty toward Him who began in me His work that is for everyone–for everyone!”

Alberto from Milan, Fabio from Bologna, Andrea from Germany, a girl from Portugal, and others along with them asked questions and told about their doubts, trials, and discoveries during the assembly. We answered each other, interrogated each other, engaged in dialogue.

On the road
Everybody’s desire to get to the bottom of things, to verify, was evident. And Cesana, in conclusion, reminded us that “no attempt of ours can be extraneous to the belonging to this road on which we are already set, because all that we are and all we desire has an enormous dignity, and Christ is already inside man’s need, inside our thrust toward fulfillment for what we love… Our life is comprehended anew in this tie, it is truer the more the Mystery reveals Itself to be greater than I am, reveals Itself as the truth of everything, as an inexorably greater love…”

These words described all the experiences we heard in these three days, and the task assigned to us began to be clearer.

In the discovery of a preference, the gestures that we ask each other to do in the university, and with them the books we have to study, our parents, and the people we love, are all there so that something new, and already being enacted, may take place in our lives.

It will be wonderful and adventurous to start the year and attend our university classes not because we have to, but in order to get to the root, the origin of this beauty, touched as we are by a superabundance of affection for us and grateful because of this.

It might just be a great year!