Bethlehem (Photo: Unsplash/Jorge Fernández Salas)

Supreme affection

The nostalgia for distant relationships and her decision to follow online. From Bethlehem, Caterina recounts her experience of the Audience with Pope Francis. From the November issue of Tracce.

The first thing that prompted me to watch the Audience live was a very human desire: to be part, in my own way, of what was happening to all the people dearest to me. They were all there. For what reason? Because of a story of gratitude. For nothing else but this. I thought about their choice to wake up at 3 am after a week of work (because you don't have many days off), taking a special train to Rome at 4 am, and catch it again at 6 pm the same day... You only do all this if animated by gratitude; these are things that you only do out of love.

I connected to the live broadcast with some friends, and the first thing I heard were the songs of our history; my heart fluttered. I was very impressed to see the faces of unknown people, all tense in anticipation of the Pope’s arrival. A crowd of people united by the fact that they had known or, rather, encountered the event of Christ in the same way through which I had encountered him. Me, who is currently in Bethlehem where it all began. How often do I begin my day without this awareness, without recognizing the grace I have!

I was deeply moved by the Pope's paternity: he was not there to "scold" us, but to take us back with authority, as a father does with the son he cares for most, from whom he demands the most. What a grace that the successor of Peter is taking us back to the point of supreme affection of the human heart. Of my own heart, first of all. Since I arrived in Palestine, I feel pure nostalgia and pure lack: I miss my boyfriend, my family, my friends, those wonderful faces through which Jesus makes me feel His most concrete and true love. This lack can also become a prison: those ties are signs, stupendous and irreplaceable, but they are not fulfilment. They call me back to the only thing that fills my heart: the Lord, who is showing Himself here through another face, who does not abandon me. Today I have a clear awareness of this, and I know that this awareness must be earned again every day.

Looking back at my daily experience, I cannot fail to grasp the analogy with what the Pope said about Fr. Giussani: "He attracted, convinced, and converted hearts because he transmitted to others what he carried within him after that fundamental experience of his: the passion for humanity and the passion for Christ as the fulfillment of man." How moving! And again, quoting Fr. Giussani: "You have encountered this company: this is the way in which the mystery of Jesus has knocked at your door."

The Pope refocused us on this: Fr. Giussani did not bring himself, but communicated the beautiful claim that Jesus has on our hearts: to be our emotional center. This is my greatest desire this year: to yield to this claim and abandon myself in His arms, like a daughter in the arms of the Father.

Caterina, Bethlehem, Palestine