Antony Gormley, Untitled (for Francis), 1985 (Photo: Luca Fiore)

My thirsty impotence

To ask ourselves today, "But if God is in all, what am I? Who are you?” The work of the School of Community and that discovery towards the end of the evening…

The other night was the best School of Community of my life. There were six of us connected. My connection was so bad – the audio kept going off and my video kept freezing – that I was about to disconnect completely. But then I would not have made the final discovery.

The School of Community was on the introduction and points 1 and 2 of To Give One’s Life for the Work of Another. I kept identifying with Giussani's question at the beginning of point 2: "But if God is in all, what am I? Who are you?” I kept repeating the challenge, "But if God is in all, what am I?" Pantheism or nihilism, illusion or nothingness: "The ultimate answer to which everybody gives in, and which embraces us all when we lack a solid and clear standpoint.”

It is exhilarating to follow Giussani's stringent logic and how he grasps the inevitable connection between pantheistic-nihilistic drifts and trust-alienation in regards to power. I can, and one can, be so at the mercy of power that, without realizing it, we place all out hope in it. In fact, thinking that reality depends on power or the powerful, I can still try to placate my conscience (or keep it quiet) by praying for those in power, so that by changing the powerful, everything changes. But by dumping all my responsibility on a change in power, I run the risk of self-absorption, of alienating my "I."

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But "what am I?" An "illusion," as he says towards the end of point 2? Or am I "thirsting" for Him, as it says in point 1: "Before this Lord the human I is thirsty for Him. The human I is thirsty for this God, that is, as Jesus says, ‘is thirsty for eternal life’? Within a few lines Giussani repeats "thirsty" six times.
My answer is: I am thirsty for the Infinite, for life and eternal happiness for me and for all, and there is no destruction that withstands this. Indeed, destruction only exacerbates this thirst. And so I also pray; but it is not prayer that derives from a pietistically self-alienated "I", but the expression of a fully self-aware "I". The impressiveness of the Spirit works in my thirsty, acknowledged helplessness.
The extraordinary thing – for which I will always be infinitely grateful to Fr. Julián – is that it is as if for the first time – and I made this discovery at the end of the meeting –I had truly experienced that School of Community is for me an occasion to verify my faith in the rediscovery of my living, restless, thirsty self.

This is where the greatness of my responsibility comes from; it is no longer an orphaned and wandering mine to be hooked up to who knows what other new (new?) power, but an expression of that irreducible and free state from which I can, and wish, to shout "I" with all of myself, before "God, all in all".

Signed letter, Russia