The evening of songs in the parish of Bonnevoie, Luxembourg

Luxembourg: Songs from the world, voice of a people

On the occasion of the Bonnevoie parish festival, the CL community proposed an exhibition on Fr. Giussani and an evening of songs to all.

In the parish "Marie Reine de la Paix" in Bonnevoie, a suburb of Luxembourg, many of our community do charitable work together with the parish priest, Fr. Laurent, distributing food and basic necessities to refugees, drug addicts and the needy, while others are involved in the catechism of the children of the Italian Catholic community.
On the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the parish, the movements and groups that animate its life were invited to organize a public event. We thought that it was a splendid occasion to celebrate Fr. Giussani's centenary. And thus was born the evening of June 17, which for us was a true taste of Paradise.

We immediately thought of proposing an evening of songs, which we entitled Chansons du monde, voix d'un peuple (Songs from the world, voice of a people), asking for the help of some friends in Italy. During the week of the concert we also displayed the panels in French from the exhibition on Fr. Giussani "From My Life to Yours" in the parish, so that everyone could learn about his life and thought. At the beginning of the evening, Sara spoke about how Fr Giussani introduced us to the beauty of songs by reminding us of their origin: "From what do songs arise? From human need: the need for love, need for justice, need for health, need for beauty, need for springtime." To plan the itinerary of songs we started from a fact that marked us this year: the Pope's call to the movement in St. Peter's Square on October 15 to "accompany him in the prophecy for peace." We started from our reflections on this theme: in this wounded world, is peace possible? Where can it come from?
With songs we recounted what we experience: that He is present, and thirsty for our thirsty hearts. He does not want to leave us alone: he is present in the Church, among us, who are a "poor voice," but a voice that does not stop singing, to ask "that the breath of life may have no end." And He left us Mary, to whom we can ask even what seems impossible. That night we asked Her for the miracle of peace.

At the end of the concert, we sang the Luxembourgish sacred hymn Oh Mamm, léif Mamm (O Mother, dear Mother), dedicated to the Virgin Consoler of the Afflicted, patroness of Luxembourg. Introducing it, we recalled how Fr. Giussani has always educated us to learn the songs of the peoples of the lands where we go to live. The Italian friends of the band, who came to play and sing, recounted a piece of history, ours and theirs, helping us build the path and especially coming to our aid as the proposal took shape. Thinking back over these months of preparation, it makes us smile to think of how the Lord made use of our desires, each person's skills and abilities, the moving generosity we encountered among ourselves and especially in others, but also our misunderstandings, concerns, and limitations. This event was a great opportunity to invite friends, colleagues, and the parents from our children’s school. Some were amazed to hear a people singing in so many different languages, and some even tried to join in, reading the words and hearing the melody for the first time. There were many new faces in the church that evening: young people, the elderly, families with children, acquaintances, parishioners, friends met doing charitable work, and especially many of the faces that come to the distribution on Tuesdays to ask for help.

One Tuesday evening, the line was very long and some had gone home empty-handed. At first we were angry, but it was an opportunity to ask ourselves, "Who is really responding to their need?" and it was a chance to go back to the experience of these years of charitable giving, namely that their need is also ours. And so, in addition to distributing food, we could share with them the beauty of this evening because it is indeed true "that man does not live by bread alone.” The effort of organizing vanished at the thought that that evening would be for each of them as well.
This was the case for a Syrian friend who has been in Luxembourg for six months. He lives in a refugee center and has been helping us with the distribution for a few weeks despite being destitute himself. When he heard about the concert he lit up. He confessed to us that he is a musician but he no longer has a guitar, which was destroyed when terrorists took his village. After the concert James and Juani gave him one of the guitars they used for community singing.
Two Ukrainian mothers they met through the charitable work came to the concert with their families. The first thing they said to us that evening with eyes full of joy was, "Thank you!"

That the beauty of that moment was really for everyone was also testified to us by Marco, who was worried that he would spend the whole time “checking on” his young son. Once home, the child ran to his mother and told her, "Mom, tonight we saw something beautiful!"
We gave Fr. Laurent the new French edition of The Religious Sense as a gift to thank him for his welcome and for allowing us to set up the exhibition on Fr. Giussani for a whole week, leaving us the keys to the parish. And he in turn addressed us with words full of wonder at the concert.

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The next day, talking about it among ourselves, happy to have contributed to the construction of such a beautiful thing, Luciano told us, "Think of the seventy-two who return full of wonder after being sent by Jesus to announce Him and seeing that in His name they too could perform wonders. They go to Jesus, tell Him about it, and He replies, 'Do not rejoice over these wonders, rejoice rather because your names are written in the heavens.'"

Looking back, there are so many reasons to be thankful: so many encounters, so much generosity. But above all, to have become aware again of the encounter we have had, of the very human and fascinating way in which the Lord has made himself and makes himself present in our lives and has brought us together, of this story – which we sometimes take for granted – that does not censor or forget anything of our humanity.

The friends of the Luxembourg CL community