United in the grateful and prayerful remembrance
Of Monsignor Luigi Giussani
1. Dear people, in this moment of farewell, I feel the need to express a particular gratitude.
It is gratitude to the Father who once more today, in this Eucharist, has given us his Son Jesus as Saviour and Redeemer and has had us taste the living and grace-bearing presence of his Son, believed in and loved as the most precious good of our life; indeed, the one and highest good.
It is gratitude to Christ the Lord himself , who is the centre and the heart of our whole experience of faith who, with his Body and Blood, continues to be the fount of salvation for the whole of mankind and who dwells in and lets himself be encountered in his Church.
It is gratitude to the Holy Spirit, giver of every good, who incessantly fills the Church and animates mankind with the superabundance of his gifts.
Today we want to thank the Lord, in a most particular way, for the gift of monsignor Luigi Giussani, priest of this Milanese Church, who founded Communion and Liberation and has always been, incessantly, its soul and its valued and sought-after guide.
It is first of all this Ambrosian Church that is happy to thank the Lord, because Fr Giussani was born in this Church as a man and a Christian, and was ordained priest; because here, before anywhere else, he poured out his extraordinary and untiring passion as an educator, above all of the youth, firstly in the Seminary, then at the Berchet High School and in the school environment where he took up the form of apostolate Catholic Action offered him with the name, which he made his own, of “Gioventù Studentesca,” as well as in the Catholic University; because it is here in our Church that, with his limpid and strong faith and with his indomitable apostolic passion, he brought to birth the Movement of Communion and Liberation, which later grew and developed not only in Milan, but also in many other parts of the world.
And with the Ambrosian Church, many other people and realities here present or represented express their gratitude, and to them go my most cordial greetings. In particular, our thankful thought for his affectionate nearness in this moment of mourning and Christian condolence goes to the Holy Father, who wished to be present by sending Cardinal Ratzinger as his representative and making us the gift of his personal message. May our affection, our wishes for his health and our prayer reach the Holy Father. in this new moment of trial.
2. Now our gratitude opens to prayer. It is the prayer of suffrage for this dear “priest who,” as we read in the telegram of condolence of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, “was able to propose and experience of faith capable of inviting contemporary man to a vital encounter with Christ and the Church and to enter into dialogue with the most diverse cultures.”
It is a prayer that we raise all together, and which was voiced also by my predecessor Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who wrote me this: “I join in the condolence and the prayer of the whole Archdiocese and of all his friends, entrusting to the divine mercy the faithful servant who, for the whole of his life with untiring love and enthusiasm, proclaimed the mystery of the Word made flesh. May the Lord welcome him now, through the intercession of Mary, in his eternity of light from where he might pray for us, too, who, through shadows and images, are walking towards the heavenly Jerusalem, where there will be no more mourning, no weeping, but only mutual and joyous acknowledgement of those who have loved Christ and waited with joy for his manifestation. As I have to leave shortly for Jerusalem, I promise a special remembrance of the dear departed at the tomb of Him who rose for our justification.”
It is the same prayer that we have already raised to the Lord during this funeral liturgy and that now we wish to express, once more, in your name, too.
O Christ, light of life and aim of our journey, grant Fr Luigi, who wrote “Salvation is a gift—it is not a search or an effort of ours—and it has a name: Christ” (Only He is. The Way of the Cross), to meet you, and be for him the prize of his whole existence.
With the strength of your liberating grace and with the power of your love which wins and defeats every sin, grant, O Lord, to Fr Luigi to experience and taste in fullness the truth of what he profoundly believed in, writing that “you presence is our joy, and your joy is our strength. It is the joy of a love that will win in the end” (ibid).
And you, Mary, “Virgin mother, daughter of your son – humble and high beyond all creatures – fixed term of the eternal counsel,” you who are “living fount of hope,” welcome Fr Luigi with your motherly caress and for him, who loved you tenderly and who called upon you a thousand times with these verses of Dante, obtain from your Son, who sits in glory at the right hand of the Father, that he be able to see and contemplate for ever the face of the Crucified and Risen Lord, whom he sought with such passion.
3. With prayer, our heart opens up also to fraternal and sincere solidarity towards those who weep for the death of Monsignor Giussani. It is a solidarity that invokes, for them and for each of us, the consolation of the Lord and that, looking at the life and witness of Fr Luigi, opens up to sharing of thoughts, of feeling and resolutions of a life that is more just, holier, more authentically and joyously coherent with the living word of the Gospel and with the Christian faith we profess.
Let us make our own his great passion for the mission, and let us allow ourselves to be shaken and animated by the insuppressible desire to bring all those we meet to share the fortune of knowing and loving Christ and to enter into and remain in communion with him, letting ourselves be attracted and transformed by His unsurpassable beauty and by His grace. Thus, for us, too, as for Fr Luigi, it may be unbearable that there be people who do not know the joy of this living and personal Gospel that is the Lord Jesus.
4. And now, for Monsignor Luigi, it is the moment for the last departure for burial.
But this is the moment of departure for us, too. As we leave this Cathedral, each one will go back to his own home, to his own life-environment, to his own responsibilities.
But the remembrance of a loved one does not end here, the remembrance of this our brother in faith, who for many has also been a dear father, strong and gentle, and for all has been an announcer and witness of Christ and his mystery.
The Ambrosian liturgy says, “Our prayer continues to entrust him to God’s mercy, so that he can enjoy for ever the fullness of his peace.”
+ Dionigi card. Tettamanzi
Archbishop of Milan
United in the grateful and prayerful remembrance