Rosario, Argentina

Where is my consistency?

The economic impact of the pandemic is seriously threatening many jobs and businesses. From the anguish of seeing everything fall apart to the liberation of recognizing that "what defines us is not what we do, but that we have been preferred".

Before recounting what has happened to me these days, I would like to quote a passage from School of Community that has illuminated my experience and is accompanying me in this journey during these days, allowing me to judge it: “To become a “new creature” means having a new awareness, a capacity for looking at and understanding reality that others cannot have, and a new affection, a capacity for adherence and dedication to reality, to what is other than oneself, one that cannot even be imagined”. The “new creature” means an intelligence and a heart that are different in eating and drinking, in waking and sleeping, in living and in dying”…to face this pandemic. He goes on to say: "The new creature has a new mens (Greek: nous), a capacity for knowing reality that is different from everyone else’s. How is this nous born? This new knowledge is born of the adherence to an event, from the affection for an event you have become attached to, that you have said yes to. This event is a particular detail in history. It has universal claim, but it is a particular point.”

It all began with something that happened to a very dear friend. He had a great business with a forty-year history, one of the most important in its sector and one of the most recognized and reliable. At the same time, it did many good works for those most in need, investing a lot of money, time and effort. He had quite a lot of public recognition. On one occasion, upon his initiative, with friends of the movement, we went to assist those affected by the floods in Santa Fe. We also travelled with him to the Rimini Meeting, etc.

Lately, his business entered into a critical situation and, finally, the situation ended in the worst possible manner: in bankruptcy that was greatly publicized by the media. This led him not to want to leave his house or his office, not to want to see or talk to any of his friends, as shame was eating away at him terribly. The last time I was able to talk to him he broke down on the phone and hung up. His person fell alongside his business.

I am also now experiencing the anguish of what is happening as a result of the economic crisis generated by the pandemic, which is impacting all the people and companies that I work with. I am trying to secure the work we are doing (about two hundred people depend on my undertakings). I have initiated dialogues, I have sought the experience of friends of the movement and of colleagues and entrepreneurs with whom I am working to try to better understand what is happening, to see what we can do. And the truth is that we can do nothing, except to work towards a supposed normalization of the situation after this pandemic ends.

At times, I am angered by the political decisions which, guided by a closed ideology, complicate and drown out companies instead of coming to their aid. In such a state, I ask myself: will I end up like my friend? What can rescue us from this unprecedented and terrible situation? How can I live it with courage, without being struck down?

A friend of the movement said to me: "Our friend has become defined by his endeavours, his consistency has been determined by them. However, we are loved not because of what we do, but because the Mystery has preferred us, has chosen us freely". From that moment, a new dialogue emerged with my friends and another gaze began to appear towards what we are experiencing, even though we cannot do anything about it.

I have realized that, during these 35 years, we have been given the grace to be able to build our families, our businesses, to do good things for others. But the Lord does not want us because of all this, He loves us freely. Our value does not lie in what we have managed to do, to continue with so much effort, but only in the fact that we have been loved. We will make the necessary efforts to save these jobs and their people. However, if those jobs collapse because of the virus, because of the bad actions of rulers, or because of our mistakes, they will fall, but we will not fall with them. Because works do not define us, they are not our consistency, they will always be attempts.

When I became more aware of this, I was able to breathe again and, even in the midst of anger and pain, I felt free, also from my achievements and failures. As my friend told me, if I lose the company, we will rebuild it in any way possible, if He gives us the grace to do so. We are not the ones who sustain reality, we are not the ones who, with our capabilities, guarantee what is in reality.

Read also - "That question that I never would have imagined"

This pandemic is a crisis that places everything at stake, socially and personally, as has never happened before in history. It is an unforeseen event that we have never imagined and that absolutely defies our reason and our heart. But it is also an opportunity for us to realize where our heart, our hope, lies. And so I return to my initial judgement, to the need to find in a particular event in history "a new conception of intelligence and affection" that will allow me to undertake a human journey. It is something that I cannot discover alone, but within that particular, that companionship of friends that is the charism within the great history of the Church.

Recounting everything that is happening to me, to colleagues, investors, friends who are not in the Church, but are the people with whom I work, this awareness that was emerging in me became clearer, and a window was opened for them, a new possibility that they thanked me for, or tried to verify this in their lives. I saw that, without wanting to, all this was transformed into an occasion to witness that the Christian experience gives us the possibility of making life more human and beautiful, even in such circumstances.

Juan José, Rosario, Argentina