On 30th May, 1998, in St Peter’s Square, Fr Giussani said before John Paul II, “For me the grace of Christ became the experience of a faith from which…I saw happening the formation of a people, in the name of Christ.” Here, today, is this people that was born of Fr Giussani’s experience of faith. This fact, this people, speaks more eloquently than any comment of what God has done through him.
This is why we are all here today to express our sorrow at his departure, to proclaim before everyone our gratitude for his life. The importance of his person for each one of us is as great as the sorrow we feel today. Dear Fr Giussani, we carry you with us, in our memory, for the whole of our lives! We shall never be able to forget the fever of life we have experienced beside you. Your gaze can never disappear from our sight. That look in which we felt looked at by Jesus. Yes, because it is really Him, Jesus, who gave form to the look with which we felt you look at us.
In contact with his experience of faith, we saw happening in us, to our astonishment, something we could not imagine, but secretly desired. We were forced to give in before a novelty that no one could have imagined before and, like the disciples, we were surprised to find ourselves saying, “We have never seen anything like it!” (Mc 2:12). Thus we learned from experience what Christianity is; an event; the event of an encounter that gives fullness to humanity, a density to time, an intensity to relationships, and a capacity for initiative and construction elsewhere unknown. Yes, it is really true. We have encountered Christ and we have experienced and still experience the hundredfold here below. This is why Fr Giussani always wanted to stake everything on our freedom.
This is how he taught us to know and love Jesus, not merely by talking, but by communicating Him through his experience, inviting us to share it so as to find out if his claim is true. Christ became more fascinating for us every time, the dearest Presence, and each of us found himself repeating, “Though living in the flesh, I live in faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). This is how he generated us in Christ.
It was a real “generation”, a fatherhood! So we are not longer able to live the relationship with Jesus, to make memory of Him, the consistence of the whole of reality, without thinking of Fr Giussani; now more than before. We shall think of him always beside Him, Jesus, when we get up in the morning, when we go to work, when we see the sunset, when we meet out wife, our husband or our friends. Our faith in Jesus has been and is moulded by the presence of Fr Giussani, his look, his impetus of life.
A faith that exalts reason, man’s reason, that conceives it as its fullness, that flowers gratuitously at the summit of reason. A faith that, in obedience to the Church, becomes a new way of looking at and judging the world, truer affection for the destiny of man, whether neighbour or stranger. Openness to every seed of truth, impetus of communication in our craving that everyone know Christ.
“What is man that you should keep him in mind?” (Ps 8). That such a fragile creature like man can, by saying Yes to Christ, become so decisive for thousands of people throughout the world cannot fail to surprise us! Some may find this method disconcerting. That the meaning of life, of our most meaningful relationships, of time and space, of creativity and of rest should pass through and be communicated through the flesh, something that dies, seems scandalous to the wise of this world.
It is, however, a sign of the infinite mercy of the Father who, in order to make himself known and accepted by man and thus save him, through the life-giving power of the Spirit arouses a preference, a charism, so powerful and fascinating as to have people adhere to Christ. This is the most capillary realization of the method of the Incarnation. Only the Mystery become affectively attractive presence can give man the clarity and the affective energy sufficient to accept it.
This method implies renewed astonishment before the initiative of another. This is why, as Fr Giussani always taught us, our companionship is a companionship guided towards destiny, within that great riverbed which is the Church’s life. The unity among us is the most precious gift that is born from accepting this initiative. Given the responsibility entrusted me by Fr Giussani, I ask for the grace to serve this gift of unity. I am sure that if we are simple in following, we shall feel Fr Giussani more than ever a father.
We entrust our history to Our Lady “the certainty of our hope.”
“Veni, Sancte Spiritus, veni per Mariam.”