From Baptism, a New Creature

Address of Fr. Luigi Giussani at the Synod of Bishops, Rome, October 9, 1987. From L. Giussani, L’avvenimento cristiano. Uomo Chiesa Mondo [The Christian Event. Man Church World], BUR, Milan 2003, 23-25
Luigi Giussani

Most Blessed Father, Venerable Fathers:
1. I would be even more uncomfortable speaking in this setting if the theme of the Synod did not concern foremost something that I also have in common with the laypeople who are here: Baptism.

A general observation
What is Christianity if not the event of a new man who by his nature becomes a new protagonist on the scene of the world? The eminent question of the entire Christian problem is that laypeople also experience the event of the new creature spoken of by Saint Paul. Such a man is given different tasks and functions, but this problem is secondary to the first.
In fact, this is the content of all Christian engagement, that of the prayer of Jesus: “Father, the hour has come! Give glory to Your Son…” (Jn 17:1).
2. Man today, endowed with operative possibilities as never before in history, has very great difficulty perceiving Christ as the clear and certain response to the meaning of his own ingeniousness. Often institutions do not offer this response vibrantly. It is not so much that verbal or cultural repetition of the annunciation is missing. Man today expects perhaps unconsciously the experience of the encounter with people for whom the fact of Christ is such a present reality that their life is changed. What will shake today’s man is a human impact, an event that echoes the initial event, when Jesus raised His eyes and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. I mean to stay at your house today” (cf. Lk 19:5).
3. In this way, the mystery of the Church, which has been handed on to us from two thousand years ago, must always re-happen through grace, must always be a presence that moves, that is, movement, movement that by its nature renders more human the way of living the environment in which it happens. For those who are called, something happens that is analogous to what the miracle was for the first disciples. Always, the experience of a liberation of the human accompanies the encounter with the redemptive event of Christ: “Those who follow Him will have eternal life, and the hundredfold here below” (cf. Mt 19:28-29; Mk 10:28-30; Lk 18:28-30).

Now I would like to speak of a history that follows from this
4. Just as Baptism is a grace of the Spirit, so every realization of Baptism is a gift of the Spirit incarnated in the temperament and history of each person.
This gift of the Spirit can communicate itself with a particularly persuasive, pedagogic, and operative force so as to spark the involvement of people, a sphere of affinities and relationships, through which a stable dynamic of communion is realized, “living which is an aspect of obedience to the great mystery of the Spirit” (John Paul II, Be Teachers of the Christian Culture, To priests of Communion and Liberation, September 12, 1985, in La Traccia (a collection of the addresses of Pope John Paul II), 1985, p. 1083).
5. Thus arose the ecclesial movements. These are historical forms with which the Spirit helps the Church’s own mission today. The whole personality of the faithful is invested by the Spirit, so much so that normally there flourishes a spirituality, a cultural position, and a capacity of presence that favors a sense of complete catholicity, in such a way that dioceses, parishes, and environments can enjoy it.
For the more a charism is referred to and nourished by the relationship with the universal Church, through adequate means, the more its constructive force is intensified, even in the particular Church, which is the emergence of the Catholic Church in a determined portion of the people of God.
In a world dominated by a totalizing culture, the more a particular Church stresses itself, the more it runs the risk of being insufficient, on its own, to generate attitudes that are adequate responses to morality.
6. In order for this Movement of the Spirit to realize concretely the great mission, two factors are required. First: total openness of the charism to the ecclesial Institution and, therefore, firstly, obedience to the Bishop of the particular Church in which it operates, even to the extent of profound mortification; second: a love for the freedom of the Spirit for which the Bishop, over and above his own opinions and expectations, will be able to respect paternally the identity of the charism, so as to welcome the concreteness of form that the charism itself gradually takes up in his diocese, as a constructive factor, even in the pastoral plan.
7. The order of the Church’s great discipline, channel of the operative freedom of the Spirit, flourishes in living communion with Peter’s successor, the place of ultimate peace for every faithful.