The presentation of "The Religious Sense" in Garching bei München

Germany: When 'yes' is enough

A small community near Munich that takes seriously the challenge of what it means to “be a presence”. The result is the presentation of "The Religious Sense" in the parish, and not only.

How many people from a small community are needed to be able to speak of "mission"? One is enough, who with a proposal awakens in themselves and in their friends the desire to communicate the beauty of lived faith. We are in the small university town of Garching, north of Munich, where Lucia and Giovanni, together with Anna and Carlo, and their children, have been a stable presence of the movement for some years, even in the small and large events of parish life, such as distributing Communion, altar-serving, singing in the choir, and participating in Sunday Mass.

The beginning of the work on The Religious Sense coincided with the arrival of a new family in Garching, Elisa and Marco with their two children. Already on the first Sunday at Mass together, a parishioner asked Lucia about the new family, whether they were "new CL friends", because their way they were sitting together during the service was very "familiar" to her. Just sitting together at Mass is missionary.

An episode that, along with others, rekindled in us the desire to say even more explicitly who we are, and a initial 'yes' from a person is enough to take this seriously. Carlo in fact, back from the Diaconia of European leaders, told us of Davide Prosperi's invitation to make our faith grow 'by putting it to the test, first of all by communicating it', and proposed to organise a presentation of The Religious Sense in our parish, to speak of our friendship, to say why we go to mass, why we have faith, and, who knows, to encounter the perhaps still unexpressed desire of someone who lives next door to us.

On 14 July, we organised the meeting on the parish premises, inviting parishioners and family friends, from families we met at our children's nursery, at football or at work. We invited our friends Stephan and Nathalie from Munich to tell us why it is interesting to re-read and work today on a book first published almost 40 years ago. Above all, we would like to explore with them how the School of Community was and is so important in their lives as a business manager, father and husband, and as a young woman two weeks after giving birth to their second daughter, who had left the Church only to meet a friendship that made her rediscover the beauty of faith.

Giovanni, in introducing the meeting, asked Stephan and Nathalie to tell what intensity their life experience had gained in asking the fundamental questions that Fr. Giussani emphasises when speaking of religious meaning. Because “there is nothing more incomprehensible than the answer to a question that is not asked.” The parish priest, invited for a greeting at the beginning of the meeting, after apologising because he probably could not have stayed long, greeted us at the end by showing us the two pages full of notes he had taken.

We were about 20 people in the room in total, friends and parishioners, but for us, from the beginning, it was never a question of numbers: the seed planted will have time to blossom, God willing. A parishioner approached us the following Sunday at mass, asking for the address of our website because she was curious about the meeting.

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In the meantime, we are growing in gratitude for the opportunity to experience the words of Davide Prosperi at the annual meeting with the ecclesial movements last June: “We are rediscovering that being called by God coincides with the awareness of being sent: sent to a country, a city, a neighborhood, a certain workplace, ‘sent’ in the relationships with our relatives, friends and colleagues. Every instant, if lived as response to His call, is the beginning of mission.”

Friends of Garching bei München, Germany