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A Dinner in Plymouth

A CLU student studying abroad in Plymouth decided to cook for his roommates on his birthday, and then everything changed ...

I am a CLU student [the university students of CL] from Bologna and since September, I have been in Plymouth, England on an Erasmus scholarship. A few weeks after my arrival, it was my birthday and in the days leading up to it, my roommates (whom I barely knew) asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate, which for them meant, “How do you want to get drunk for your birthday?” I told them that I would like to cook for everybody. Here everyone cooks for themselves and then eats either standing up or in his room. And so I prepared an Italian dinner with the stipulation that we would all have to eat together around the table. The food was clearly a success (it doesn’t take much with the English) but the thing that amazed them the most and which made me think, was that I should decide to spend the afternoon of my birthday cooking for them. Indeed, that afternoon I asked myself why was I doing this for people I barely knew, and I realized, a realization that was further confirmed by their amazement, that the Christian attitude of service for others is what makes me happiest. For me there couldn’t be anything more beautiful than using my time to try to “reproduce” the features of what makes me happy in Italy and give them to those around me. Fr. Giussani in the Beginning Day says, “Christianity is something that is given to us as an announcement, an unforeseen and unforeseeable reality […] It is a proposal, a sort of proposal; it’s a kind of proposal; it’s a sort of meaning, a kind of meaning that is passed on to me, is proposed to me, that comes before me.” I discovered that above all, this novelty is a novelty in me and that my encounter with Christianity pushes me to do things I would not do on my own. It becomes
a novelty for everyone. From that Wednesday of my birthday until now, every Wednesday one person cooks for everyone else; it is the only moment of the week in which we are all together. In the meantime, we have also started a School of Community. The first time it was me, Andrea (the other guy from CL) and Andrea’s English girlfriend who is Catholic and since being with him has become interested in the Movement. After the first time, I invited Giovanni, another guy I had met, because he too is an Erasmus scholar and from Bologna. At the end of the School of Community, he said, “In the past few years, I’ve never had a place where I could talk about these things with friends. I was looking for a place just like this.” In Bologna, he hadn’t found anything. He had to come to Plymouth to find the three of us who meet in a living room to try to accompany each other in this life even if we are speaking in a language we don’t know very well.

Luca, Plymouth, Great Britain