(Photo: Giovanni Dinatolo)

"Can there be a greater gift?"

Tommaso left the church at the age of 16. Then his encounter with Fr. Giussani's charism completely overturned his idea "of the Jesus I thought I knew." His emotion and gratitude for the Audience with Pope Francis.

I returned from the Audience in Rome with a heart swollen with emotion and gratitude. It was a concrete moment of conversion. I have thought about it often in recent days and have begun to understood more where this gratitude comes from.
I am grateful, first of all, that Fr. Giussani was born 100 years ago. His "yes" generated a story that allowed me to encounter Jesus. I realized how much he keeps me company every day, with his writings, his videos, through the life of the movement. It amazes me how much I perceive him as a friend and father, without ever having known him. When I was 16 I left the Church: it was not interesting, it had nothing to say to the questions I had and the wounds I carried. It was not the answer to the question of meaning that was tormenting me. Then, all of a sudden, the encounter with the movement totally overturned my idea of the Jesus I thought I knew, and I too was able to discover that the greatest joy in life "is feeling Jesus Christ alive and vibrant in the flesh of one's own thought and one’s own heart." I do not know what would have become of me without Fr. Giussani (God's imagination is infinite and perhaps He would have caught me anyway), but my story says that he gave me an unparalleled gift: he gave me Christ.

The second reason for my gratitude was the fact that I was surrounded by a people made up of friends. Jesus accompanies me, watches me and loves me through so many friends who are a mysterious and wonderful gift. Teaching in a school, I see that the biggest problem so many young people face is loneliness -- they have no one to look to, to lean on. No one to love them with a great and free love. This makes them fragile and fearful of life. I stand upright because I am loved... And seeing this people (after the Covid years where we were all in danger of being a little more lonely) moved me. I am not alone in my journey, and that is the least taken for granted thing there is.

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The last thing that moved me was listening to the Pope's words, which show us the way forward. I came out of the square with the joy of being within the Church, a place where my destiny is cared for, and where I am shown the path to fulfill my task in the world. It is a place where I am told that even difficult moments, of crisis, make one grow... So that we can be more and more attached to Jesus. Like when the Pope pleaded us not to waste our time! That is right: I do not want to waste it! I want every moment to be Christ's, to make my life full and to be able to witness Him to everyone I meet. I feel guided by the Church in all this. We are not talking about peanuts, we are talking about destiny. Can there be a greater gift?

Tommaso, Florence, Italy