Cologne (Photo: Unsplash/Leonard Muller)

"What I saw at the Rhein Meeting"

Two days in Cologne for the event organised by CL. This year's title: "Why are we not enough for ourselves?". Luca speaks of the faces of friends who came from all over Germany, and the amazement "for what the memory of Christ gives us."

The Rhein Meeting, the cultural event organized by the community of Communion and Liberation, was held from March 8 to 10 at the Maternushaus in Cologne. This year's edition was entitled "Warum genügen wir uns selbst nicht?" - "Why are we not enough for ourselves?"

During the main talk of the Rhein Meeting, theologian Javier Prades brilliantly indicated the song Shallow by Lady Gaga as an example of how the question of the ultimate meaning of life for each of us, even those most distant from the Christian experience, sooner or later emerges and re-emerges. In fact, even when our life is completed by the encounter with Christ, this question, albeit with a different awareness, surfaces in our daily lives, especially at times when the perception of the disproportion that exists between our human being and the promise of eternity that the Son of God made to us when he resurrected. With these premises in my eyes and heart, let me recount what the Rhein Meeting was for me.

Quite simply it was a new encounter with the charism of the movement, an unmistakable sign of Christ's presence among us. Because while I was amazed by the gratitude of the friends I met and invited, I also recognize that what I can do, or the best among us, might have an immediate attractive capacity - perhaps more lasting for some than for others - it can never be like the attraction that unites everything and does everything.

I saw friends moved because they recognized Christ present there. For example Chiara and Giuseppe, who came to Cologne after having travelled 90 km despite their anxiety over the imminent birth of their child, which took place two days later. I saw them there for a few seconds, their eyes shining with happiness at the beauty of our meeting. And I 'saw' Anna, although not physically present because she too was close to her due date, follow the meeting from behind the scenes and post the events of the three days every hour on social media. I saw Tommaso, Giovanni, Pietro and all the young people from Milan accept my invitation after a proposal I made during the Christmas vacation. I saw them attend the events and meetings with gratitude and interest. Again, my friend Patrick after weeks in hospital and still full of back pain, accompanied by his wife Yvonne, making an enormous effort to greet us even if only for half an hour, because “when there are friends waiting for you, even if your body is fatigued, your soul is strong and happy.” I also saw Tina, Dirk, Helena, Ralph, Fabrizio and all the friends from Bonn whom we did not know a few months ago and who are now an example of loyalty even for those who met them many years ago. I also saw a Protestant friend of mine, the father of one of my son’s classmates whom we had invited to an event at the Children’s meeting, who asked me why I had not invited the whole family to something so beautiful and interesting. I then saw Anna take the train from Munich during the national strike with her 6-month-old daughter, leaving three other children at home, to come and tell us about the 'frontiers' of infinite space. And I saw my family and friends from my fraternity, all happy and moved by what they had seen these days.

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One of the speakers at the Rhein Meeting, Professor Laerte Patera, showed us a video during his talk and made us realise how something that to the untrained eye might look like just a broken old television set was actually an important scientific discovery. This simple point and his amazement in front of those images made me realize that we already have everything, that Christ’s beauty is always within reach. You just need to know where to look and trust those who show you the way.

Luca, Cologne, Germany