The Fraternity Exercises in Rimini (Photo: Roberto Masi/Fraternity of CL)

Fraternity: "Why are we still here?"

The expectancy, attention and emotion upon return. Four testimonies from the Spiritual Exercises of the Fraternity of CL, preached by Fr. Mauro Giuseppe Lepori.

The hotelier from Loano
I went to Loano to follow the Fraternity Exercises and, being part of my community’s secretary team, I had been asked to help with the relations with the hotel. On Sunday morning, the last day, during breakfast with my roommates, Loredana, the hotelier with whom we had immediately bonded, stopped us because she wanted to thank us. She cared, she told us, not only because we had been "polite," but because she was amazed to have found a group of people who, although we did not all know each other well, could tell we were friends. In particular, according to her we had "something to give." I did not understand what she meant since we had not done anything exceptional – what was she talking about? She explained that in the hotel they saw many people passing through, but often empty. In us, however, she had seen joy, companionship, unity. And that for her was "something to give," as well as being nice to see, "And that does not happen often." She was not saying this for publicity or a form of politeness, but because she was surprised that she had gotten along well with us and our companionship.
At the end of the Mass, some of us thought of organizing gifts to thank those who hosted us, those who celebrated Mass, those who had had a gaze towards us, giving us their availability. So we went to Loredana with flowers, with the April issue of Traces and the Easter poster. She smiled and thanked us again, asking where she could continue to follow us. She was moved, asked if she could write to me, if she could have my number... She accompanied us to the last possible moment, all the way to the sidewalk. Making us promise to come back.
Giulia, Milan

For a forgotten backpack
On Friday morning I hurriedly left the house; I had a half-day of work ahead of me and then the departure for Rimini, with an appointment for the choir rehearsal. But while on the highway I had a sudden realization: I had forgotten my backpack at home with all the choir music for the next days. I had prepared everything carefully, and I had nothing. I got very angry with myself and said to my traveling companions, in a half-bitter joke, "The reason I am going to Rimini, I forgot it at home!" One of them snapped back, "Then you will have to ask yourself what other reason you are going to Rimini for." His joke remained with me like an annoying sting, because the issue for me was reduced to the fact that I had not been careful with my things.
In the evening, the Introduction: immediately Davide Prosperi began with the same question that was stinging me, "why are we still here?" And then Fr. Lepori kicks it up a notch with St. Bernard's question, "Why have you come?"
Being asked the exact same annoying question three times in the space of a few hours triggered a lock in me, as if something had opened, and I began to wait to find out what was coming my way. It was because of this click that I began to enjoy everything and to see that everything provoked and moved me, because Paul's concern for Timothy's faith is also a concern that my fire not cease to burn; Simeon's waiting and his thirst for salvation are exactly what I experience as well.
But it was the snag of the forgotten backpack that started it all, and for me they were days of grace.
I also found myself filled with gratitude for our own companionship, for three reasons. First, because this companionship of friends supports my journey and my task, despite my limitations: a couple of phone calls were all it took and by a series of unimaginable entanglements, my backpack arrived in Rimini on Friday night.
Second, this companionship of friends helps me to illuminate my human position, making it truer, because thanks to those pressing questions the backpack no longer remained the horizon of my weekend, but that circumstance was the occasion for a step of my own awareness.
Third: I also understand that our companionship is not special because there are good people there, but it moves me because, despite its limitations, it has in its nature to be a sign of a Beauty that is greater; it exists because, in these moved humanities, the Presence of Christ happens again.
Elena, Milan

Read also - Farrell: "The foundation of our faith is a fact: the risen Christ!"

The right position
Upon returning from the Fraternity Spiritual Exercises, as soon as I entered the courtyard of my apartment block, my neighbor came out onto the balcony and asked me to pray a lot for her husband who will have to undergo major surgery. I told her not to worry, I would do it. She replied, "I waited for you, because I am on the safe side with you." I smiled at her, but I actually felt like crying. I was deeply moved: I had not even entered the house and Jesus was already there waiting for me. I still had in my eyes and heart the story of the centurion, in his rightful position between his servant and Jesus, and unexpectedly I found myself there.
I recognized, as it rose from my heart, a question that has never been so limpid and clear to me: "Jesus, give me the same faith that the centurion had, make me able to fix my eyes on Yours; You know how much I love my neighbors and they know that I trust You. Let your will be done, it will certainly be Good for them and for me." What was announced to me at the Exercises is helping me to clear my heart of what troubles it and to open it wide to the One who alone can give it the right beat, the right position. Is that not why we call ourselves "Communion and Liberation"? I am more and more grateful for the story that has taken me and would like it to reach everyone.
Angela, Cassano Magnago (Varese)

On the way to the Exercises – which those of us from Rome and Lazio would be following from Fiuggi – I felt a sense of guilt and regret. It was Saturday morning and I had missed Friday night. Of course, my lateness to attend my son's performance was more than justified: my duty as a mother was to witness the fruit of his labors, and the evening had been beautiful and moving. But the Exercises had begun and I was not there... Arriving at the Fiuggi Palacongressi, as I listened, as I watched, as I allowed myself to be penetrated by Fr. Lepori's words and their meaning, more and more I realized that at the Exercises I had not arrived late, that the Exercises, namely the entering more and more deeply into reality and thus into the discovery of God's love to my life, had already begun in watching my son perform in the theater. That reality was not other than my friends, it was not in opposition to them. It was embraced, it was saved by Christ who by loving me united me to them, creating that unity that Lepori spoke of. I saw the same unity in Cristina who was waiting to give me a pass. And also in Sonia who was asking when I would arrive. And in Pia telling me about the Friday night lesson.... Truly, everything becomes an opportunity to know and love Christ
Federica, Rome