Luigi Giussani

A New Man

Notes from a conversation of Luigi Giussani with a group of novices of Memores Domini. Milan, January 31, 1999.
Luigi Giussani

I wanted to come here because I was slightly worried about where we should have got to in meditating the values which qualify our vocation. Because if we're not persuaded, if we don't allow ourselves to be persuaded, if we're not willing to understand what our vocation implies, the sacrifices which we make because of it appear to be objections, whereas they are simply descriptions of a road, the conditions for a journey.

Man is immensely stupid. The more he is presumptuous, and nourishes his presumption, affirming his freedom to do what he likes best, the more he becomes arid, the less what the heart feels actually lasts, and he does harm to everything he comes into relationship with-his wife, children, friends-(particularly if he becomes a politician: politicians are the ultimate manifestation of this tragic consequence, tragic for society. I hope that in our company, too, we sometimes talk about the situation we're in from the social point of view, because it's something we need, it's a duty we have. Partly because the more time passes, the more the "rightness" of the religious sense and the Christian sense of things slowly increases. As we've said about ourselves in a previous meeting: the ideal takes time, it is linked to a time; and whoever has no patience loses, believing that he is loudly affirming his own pleasure.)

I now want to remind you of a few things that we have said, but which I want to complete today (we should have talked about mission, but you'll talk about it next time,) because without the willingness to accept, and without the enlightened intelligence of understanding or knowledge of the wealth of a position we are invited to and in which we are pressed, we cannot feel tranquil about our lives. When one of us is living quite at ease without any reference to Christ, he will act negligently, and this will not be repugnant to him before dying. Whereas one who is uneasy because he has no relationship with Christ perhaps lives the same negligence, but a more arid, bitter, dry negligence, so there's a chance he may be luckier at the end, he may reach the end of his existence, more "mercied", obtaining more mercy from God.

1. "There is no ideal to which we can sacrifice ourselves [I repeat this to you, and it is the third time that I hinge on this sentence by Malraux, which is atrociously realistic], because we know falsity of everything [falsity! Not that it's not right or that something else is true, but falsity!], we who do not know what is truth." And this includes even the attitudes of certain "thinkers," according to whom things do not exist: they seem to you to exist, but they don't really; words have no meaning. Many of you, through the professors they've had at university could give me examples of what I'm saying better than I can, because I certainly don't read those authors!

2. I'm quoting Malraux to say once again that we have the ideal! An ideal has been imposed upon us, imposed by Him who makes us! And it's the Lord of history who keeps this reminder alive. He didn't enter your life when you were 5 years old, but when you were 15 or 20: I mean, you knew what you were doing. But how many of you have answered me: "No, I had no idea what this journey was like." But you were called to this journey, so to leave it is to muddy your face or accuse God of violence against your life and injustice towards you. So, be quite clear: you now want to avoid a trial and a burden or, rather, a sacrifice that is asked of you (you were told right from the start that there was a sacrifice to make!) As I said last time-we always repeat things, because most people don't understand them! You need to be straightforward and "sensitive" to keep in mind what is said, what strikes us-: the ideal has us grasp it in such a way that we follow it. We decide to join the seminary or Memores Domini; then five years later along comes a boy or a girl and upsets the hardly exorbitant activity of the individual, and so he or she says: "Oh, this is more like it, I'm getting out, I'm off." This pettiness is-how can I put it?-the cause of the greatest confusion in man.
In any case, we have an ideal, an ideal whose name is Jesus. This ideal is a man, a man-man, born of woman: non horruisti Virginis uterum, you did not find it repugnant to enter a woman's womb. And this is the great point of contradiction in the world. (I once wrote in an article-I don't know where-in which I said that for someone looking at the past, the real problem, the most striking thing, is that there has been a man who said he was God: there can be no greater problem, no other problem with more decisive factors than this!) And, deep down, the attitude behind the culture of our civilization denies God made man. And thus it ends up denying the person, because the person becomes an item in a public project, and, therefore, there can be no power which doesn't end up being disturbed and overturned by violence.

If we don't understand, if we don't let ourselves be led to understand Jesus-understand in the sense of take seriously: feel that here is something serious to follow, to carry out; to follow and to carry out as thoughts and affectivity, as an attitude towards society, as an image of life and death, of the present and the future, of the ephemeral and the eternal-Jesus, the figure of this man, the reality of this man! If we don't keep this well in mind, if we don't try to make it a weight for us (weight in the sense of pondus, gravity, greatness,) then we've all had it! The problem is your relationship with Christ. Because if our relationship with Christ doesn't become your relationship with Christ, then we've all had it! We, first of all, then immediately afterwards you, yourselves.

But the thing is true, because "God is all in all" or, in more secular terms, or terms more acceptable even to believers (let's make it philosophical!): Being is mystery. Being is mystery, so you can say: "it exists" or "it doesn't exist." But if the Mystery is acknowledged as the source of a reality which doesn't make itself, and which-at the level of human consciousness has the sincerity, the honesty, the transparency to say: "I didn't make myself and I don't make myself. And this table doesn't make itself"-you go out onto the stairs and think of these things, you get out of the elevator onto your floor and think these things, you get up in the morning and think these things (if you don't think these things, then you're a miserable creature!)-, then work for man, man's commitment with Christ, has as its ultimate basis the consistency of the Mystery. Jesus, the One who reveals the Father, the Mystery, tells us first of all what is the consistency of the Mystery: whoever follows Jesus understands what the Mystery is made of. He "understands" it not in the sense of comprehending it: he doesn't comprehend it, but everything through which the Mystery touches him is understood more and more, is felt more and more; and it acquires, it can acquire such a richness that he understands that everyone else is not able to live like that. The Mystery reveals its consistency, what it is made of, and the consistency of historicity coincides in terms of explanation with the consistency of the Mystery; because nothing existed before, outside of the Mystery there is nothing; there was and there is nothing. We are careless in identifying and defining what God is and what God does, even though we use the words that the Church has been telling us, words coming from the apostles and from Jesus himself. In a word, this journey is as long as eternity, and in every moment Being explodes, what is explodes.

Therefore, accepting to be enlightened about what the Mystery is made of gives us dominion over things, it makes us "lords" of what we do, of existence, in other words of history. Every day, indeed, every moment I collaborate with the Mystery which flows through history, which makes and guides history.

The power-be it small or great, private or public-, the power that is expressed in what is human, in this history, is a power that Charles V called (he understood that it could be called) nomen Domini: the power that is nomen Domini. This takes us back to the historical meaning of things, to our existence in history. Historical in the total, but tiny meaning of the term: the family, the block of flats you live in, the school you go to, the workshop you work in.

Keeping Christ in mind, going back to memory continually, makes you understand these things: the mystery of our being, of our existence; the historicity, of which the Mystery is the meaning, which fecundates our lives, makes us useful to the world (within a sense of gratitude to God who gives himself to us, because, insofar as my activities become objective, I understand what a gift God has given me in life.)

I simply wanted to explain why I have insisted on this: because we are in our house, in our community, or we're in Memores Domini, or we are committed in our vocation of dedication to God without thinking about it, without that awareness and that sense of freedom-which was necessary, we all understand, for you to have said yes-being a daily experience, without it being the subject of your daily existence. And you do not exist simply when you go to Communion! You exist day by day, hour by hour, instant by instant (as it just happened to my friends who were trying to help me with these papers and I lost my temper!)

In any case, we have the ideal, so if we don't recognize it, acknowledge it, we are liars, as our friend Malraux says apertis verbis (he included himself in the accusation he was making, didn't he?)-: "None of us can sacrifice ourselves to anything, because we've seen the falsity of everything." It's not a question of choice-"I like this, or that"-, but of being true instead of false. Truth springs up from the earth, as a psalm says.

We cannot stop at Malraux's phrase, because we have already seen the ideal. Because we didn't choose it without seeing it! Certainly, as I said to you last time, that after five years.… I entered the seminary when I was ten, in October 1933, October 2nd, and I felt calmly immersed in that reality (like that of a huge monastery,) where there were certain precautions which others wouldn't keep later on; I felt calm, at ease, because what I had wanted to do, which hadn't been recommended to me by anyone, was natural to me and I trusted-that's the point!-I trusted what people told me, what I was made to do. As time gradually went on (one, two, three, four years...) everything changed in me, but not in the sense that I used words or did a whole list of things that I hadn't used or done previously, or else used or did the other way round. No. It was a conception of those words, an image of what we had to do which became different, and it became different because it was full of reasons. That's why I said: "Note that the ideal that the Lord has made you decide to recognize in your lives, it is time that will make all its strength, its greatness, its beauty visible."
Because what we said last time is really true, that the toughest thing is working on thought, it is the fact that each one of us has to look at our thoughts.

Therefore, as regards conversion, if a young person recognizes the ideal of his life in his relationship with Christ, he can't prevaricate much. If it enters into play in his life, the ideal makes him change his heart and mind: maybe you used to get angry easily; you still get angry easily, but in a different way (so it's easier to forgive you.)

So, we have an ideal and it's Christ. I wouldn't say Christ straight away, because it's Jesus of Nazareth: what we meet is a man; the one who is present to us is a man in whom the power of the Mystery reveals itself in its relationship with its creature, in all its possibilities.

I insist in recalling us back to Christ, to understanding the fact of our vocation, to understanding what a volcano it is in our lives (some volcanoes are calmer than others: they give out lava and nothing else, or else there can be volcanoes which act like some of the Italian ones do.) Because it's as though I have the impression that normally, if we met up outside of your house, not at one of our meetings, if we were to meet in the street or in your workplace, just by chance, it would seem to me that what you are doing has nothing to do with Christ. What you're doing has nothing to do with Christ. Therefore, you do what you do according to the mentality in fashion, whereas everything we do has something to do with our origin: "God is all in all." And the man, Jesus of Nazareth-invested by the mystery of the Word, and therefore assumed into the very nature of God (but his appearance was completely identical to that of all men)-, they didn't see this man do one single action whose form didn't show his awareness of the Father. The Apostles say it many times: he went to such and such a place to pray. And it's moving to hear a fisherman like Simon, Simon Peter, described in the relationships he had with three or four of the others who had become Jesus' first friends. Once he said to Jesus: "Master, teach us to pray."4 They, Jews who went to the synagogue, so they knew the psalms by heart, say: "Teach us to pray." Good God, if only each one of us were to say this, had this entreaty within him!

Therefore, everything that happens in us has something to do with the origin of all things, because everything is given to us through Christ. And this is why we must imitate Jesus. The relationship between God and Jesus the man: this is our main road. We go to God, to the Mystery, to the Truth, to the Eternal, we go to That which is, through our imitation of Christ, by watching Christ: "Lord, teach us to pray," which is the same as the more particular question: "Master, should we pay the temple tax? This man is asking us for the temple tax: can we pay it?"; you can find the Gospel references for yourselves!

Last time we said: "Our relationship with Christ, by its very nature, composes the desire which dominates life, the desire for happiness [the totality of the factors of our I can be recognized and observed in an adequate way only by That which gives origin to what we are; and it gives it in every moment. Do you remember The Religious Sense? Above all, the tenth chapter, which, to my mind, is the key to our way of thinking7]. Love for Christ is a judgement of the intelligence which draws along with it all human sensitivity. Otherwise human sensitivity is something mean, petty [petty! Love for Christ, by its very nature, is recognized in its capacity to compose the desire which dominates my life, the desire for happiness. And the judgement which pushes me to this affection for Him, to this fidelity in affection for Him, is my recognizing who this man is. As the apostles did (which is the way we too became aware of it): 'Who is this man?', they asked each other on the boat that evening. 'Who are you?', the scribes and the Pharisees asked him in his last days, ' how long are you going to keep us with bated breath?'. 'You have my name written down, the name of my family in the Bethlehem registers']."8

3. At this point, I have to thank a friend of mine among you who sent me a note which starts with this quote: "Therefore, if one is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things have passed away. Look, new ones have come."9 Write this quote down somewhere so that you can look at it as often as possible, because this is what has happened and what happens. This is the blindingly clear criterion-which is, how can I call it?-presumptuous in the extreme: we who recognize Jesus and follow him as we can... "if one is in Christ, he is a new creature." New: different in the same way that a man is different from a dog because he is a different creature (as Pascal says when he talks of the difference between an action realized by human reason and the same thing done with Christian charity, with faith and Christian charity.)10

"If one is in Christ he is a new creature. The old things have passed away." It doesn't say "passed" in the sense that "they can no longer be," because original sin will exist until we've finished our course, but "the old things have passed away" lies in a judgement: "Look, new things have come." To understand that "new things have come," you need to say that "the old things have passed." If each one of us doesn't do his bit, doesn't try to understand and to love, that is to memorare, to remember Christ, Jesus of Nazareth... Those three companions of ours from the Gruppo Adulto who are in Nazareth live in a house which is near the house where you can find the great formula: Verbum hic caro factum est. Hic: here (and it is one of the most certain indications there.)

"Therefore, if one is in Christ he is a new creature. The old things have passed. Look, new ones have come." Among other things, you immediately understand that you can no longer say: "How is my life useful?" or "What am I doing? What can I do?"-in other words, the unsteadiness in life, which produces the lack of awareness of the usefulness to which you have been called, or of your own capacity to build, in which God has placed you-because we manipulate things like God does, as the 8th psalm says, and freedom is recognizing that "God is all in all" (but what consequences does this have? We'll see).

After the quote from St. Paul, the note goes on: "Dearest Fr. Gius, I'm giving you back the phrase you indicated to me two years ago. It took me two years to begin to understand it, that is, to make it into the beginnings of an experience, an experience of resurrection in the flesh (time, space, work, affection, society,)11 but now it has become a certainty. I've had to suffer to make it incarnate in each of these ambits, so as not to live it just as a phrase to be repeated without really experiencing it; now it is beginning to open up horizons which are so true, fascinating and full of mysterious fulfillment (one example is my friendship with so and so) that it's becoming inconceivable to even be able to think of turning back from this gladness. In the wonder of what happens every day.…" Well, this is someone who has really "entered" the Gruppo Adulto.

They are words which indicate and define something which is born in us with our collaboration, which is ultimately to accept, implying our intelligence and our affection, generating attitudes, even towards money, that would not have been possible for us, generating concepts and a mobilization of our dynamic capacity with cannot be found elsewhere and cannot be repeated by others. There must be something else in our lives! We have to wake up every morning with an aim, and look at the day brandishing this aim: that the day may be glory to Jesus! I didn't even know what this meant when they told me this in the seminary, I didn't realize, but my offering of this or that made it glory to Christ. At seventy, I understood it well: "well": I mean, I understood it seriously. It takes more than one or two days to take up a human attitude of this kind, it comes through faithfulness.

4. I would now like to give three examples which document how if one is in Christ he is a new creature, that is, he has a new way of thinking, a new affection, a new way of loving, of building, of doing everything, absolutely everything!

If his doing is completely new, a few things emerge in the life of the individual which document this. You experience this, and recognize that you have changed when you can add: "I don't know how I did that", when you wonder at the fact that you are different.

Here are the three things that emerge and that, in my opinion, really cover our horizon.

A. First of all, justice. In the first place, the big question is justice, because if we are systematically treated unjustly, then they change our mentality-not for the better, for the worse-, they enclose us in invisible prisons. I don't want to draw this out, but justice as it is lived, as we see it lived, sustained, is a reflection of a socialist conception of law which now pursues the hypothesis of the conquest of power all over Europe.

I've been given a quote from Nietzsche, from his Thus spoke Zarathustra: "I don't like your cold justice and in your judges' eyes I can always see the gleam of the executioner with his ice-cold sword. You say: where can I find a justice which is love and has eyes to see with [you can't accuse if you don't see, if you haven't seen, if you can't demonstrate something]? Invent for me, then, a love which carries on its back [This is beautiful! I mean: a genius is always a prophet, a genius always has something inexorably Christian in him, always (he can't get rid of it!)] not only all the sorrows, but all the blame too [forgiveness: the idea of Christ, the reality of Christ]."12

In this decade our magistrates have plundered these observations which filled Nietzsche's mind and soul (and he was Nietzsche!)

Not justice, but love. But this is not yet the truth of the observation: when justice is love, it cannot be without charity, in anyone, because the State law cannot substitute or cover the whole relationship which society and the individual who reflects it (that is, the magistrate) may have with the accused. If that were the case, the Pope would have been wrong to ask the governor of Missouri to spare that man's life.13
"I don't like your cold justice [they're all like that, cold]. And in your judges' eyes I can always see the gleam of the executioner [the executioner is not necessarily someone who cuts off your head, but he wounds you with his freezing sword, without thinking about it]. You say: where can I find a justice which is love and has eyes to see with? [It is love, but not insofar as it is without reason].... love which carries on its back not only the sorrows, but all the blame too."

Anyway, this is the first thing which emerges, which we must become aware of. Talk about it amongst yourselves the next few times that you, or we, meet up.

B. The second thing that emerges is the relationship between man and woman.
I would like to read part of a letter which was sent to me from somewhere far away. "The thing which I wanted to ask regards my relationship with so and so [who is also in the Gruppo Adulto]; I am finding out that to live you must live for an Other [to live: what is living? Eating, sleeping... loving: I think that living is also loving! So that includes love between man and woman too!]. My question is: I think you know very well how the two of us are friends and how I need to be his friend, because in that relationship I have discovered that I have a heart and I am discovering that in order to live you need to live for an Other. My question to you is therefore if you can help me go deeper into this relationship with him: his heart fascinates me and I would like to be one with him."

Does this go against my exposition of the problem of love? Is it in contradiction? The advantages and values expressed in this letter are true: or rather, it is all true, but ambiguous. And man, since original sin, must remember that what he does is ambiguous, when he takes the risk of not obeying (obedience: this is the other thing that we need to take a good look at. Obedience, that is, paying the price of our being in a certain company, without which we wouldn't have known anything, in which we have opened up the whole world, for which many of us have already sacrificed their homeland, father and mother, and have risked what they now live.)

I'm quoting this letter in my second point, the emergence of the relationship between man and woman, in so far as the emergence of the relationship between man and woman is not definable by these criteria, because the man-woman relationship, instinctively felt (instinctively: that means, with original sin hiding within it) cannot but become something petty, something closed. This is why we have always said that love is firstly-above all, anything else-the sense of the other's destiny: what is the other's destiny? Where does the other's vocation end up?

Whereas I'm used to hearing those who are tempted to leave (or have already decided to leave before asking me) say: "Well, theoretically I understand what you say, but I'm going where my heart takes me." The heart... such a heart lacks judgement, and what differentiates animals from man is judgement. A dog's affection, or fidelity-which everyone finds moving: they describe it in such a moving way!-, a dog's affection for his master is "slightly" different from that of his master: in his master, affection is born of a judgement, whereas in a dog it's a physiological situation he finds himself in.

When the relationship between a man and a woman does not steer clear of this definition, when it does not strive to avoid comparison with the relationships between animals, then it really defines life in all its pettiness or in its impotence or its incapacity to correspond to what the heart has felt. Indeed, if this "girl" has waited till this friendship to feel that she has a heart, then she is perverting the concept of the heart, because is not the heart the place where one's ultimate needs lie? Is the religious sense not the comparison of everything with the needs of one's heart?

"I haven't lost you. You have remained, in the depths of being. It's you, yet you are another: more beautiful." Go and read this again in Le mie letture, because this poem by Ada Negri, written when she was 70, is something out of this world, which for all our Christian erudition, we haven't been able to discover. But we must make this effort, in order to take this step, as we can (like in gymnastics, for instance, you may not have the proper muscle development, you may not be able to bend yourself properly. If they've never taught you all your life and you get to seventy, it's pretty tough teaching it to you at that stage!)

I always quote this poem because it is the most powerful and surprising expression of the truth of what we say, of what our way of conceiving of the reality of the Church says to us. "I haven't lost you. You have remained, in the depths of being. It's you, yet you are another: more beautiful: you love, and yet do not demand to be loved in return. At every flower that buds or fruit that ripens or child that is born, you give thanks in your heart to the God of the fields and the peoples." Not because you pick the fruit and eat it, savoring its juice, but you look at it and you're moved as you become aware of the gesture that makes it; which makes all things, and makes you. If you see a child you are full of life, not because it's yours, but because it exists.

This grace, this absolute gratuitousness is essential to the love of man and woman: whoever is without it becomes violent, because by marginalising the Christian path to becoming merely values in life, he makes life subjugated to the empire of power, therefore making life more violent. The problem, then, is undoubtedly the sacrifice which is inherent in this thing!

Thank you, Ada Negri! And thank you God for having let me find her and read her like that!

These things which emerge provide supreme documentation of the new man Christ brings. But when does this new man begin? This new man-in whom knowledge is without preconceptions, like in a child; in whom affection is not made or brought about by calculating what comes to you-when does he begin? With Baptism. As God entered the world on that day, Christ entered our lives taking our lives as part of his mysterious body (or-we would say using a certain image-15 as part of his garment, of his tunic: we, small children, cannot see his face, but we are in contact, in touch with this garment of his-this garment which, more rightly, St. Paul calls the mysterious body of Christ-16). In our lives, quite apart from what we say about vocation, it is an inexorable fact: at the end, we will be condemned or exalted before of Being because of the sincerity and the faithfulness, the constancy with which we look at ourselves as new beings.

C. I've given the examples of justice and the man-woman relationship. And now I want to consider a third value, so that it may be easier for you to think about these things. The third example is work: the phenomenon, the fact of work.

Jesus defined the Mystery with a phrase: Pater meus usquemodo operatur, [My Father is constantly working] the mystery of my Father-who had me drawn into the relationship with Him and made me his Son, his real Son (whereas it is different for all of us who follow him, our relationship is specified differently; we say that we are adoptive children)-is constantly working.

The last time we met we said that work is the moment in which love for Christ becomes most concrete, most potent but toughest. But work-I now want to add to that which we have already said, I want you to underline these points-, what work is (both as love and justice,) it is by looking at Jesus that I understand it: it is from Jesus that I sense its content. When he says: "My Father is constantly working. My Father is the eternal worker," he means something out of this world-and in fact He is in the other world!-: it means that work is of the essence of being (of intelligent, conscious being-of course!-, but everything, all creation "is subjected to" or feels this aim inherent to all the moves it makes, to its whole dynamics.)

Work is the essence of Being, therefore work-although we cannot see it-is the activity which the Mystery carries out. The Father generates the Son and from them proceeds the Holy Spirit: it is a mystery in which the dynamic aspect is called work. That which defines work is the mystery of the Trinity.

Tell me, out of 100,000 Christians who go to work, who went to work this morning, who can think of these things? And without the awareness of these things we are enthralled by fine words, we tend towards a formal belonging to an association, but we are devoid of reasons.

The life of the Trinity is work, as is a mother who generates a son (this second image is more easily considered work by everyone, but not the first one.…) The life of the Trinity is work, the work.

Since God is all in all, but the man who understood this and lived it through and through is Jesus (which is why "Christ is everything in everyone",) we too must become like that. And this involves an enormous transformation in terms of brains and affectivity. This transformation is at the origin of all the incandescence and passion with which we have always said that the instant, in all the circumstances which bend it and define it, has value insofar as it is a relationship with the eternal, it has an eternal value (merit); and it is at the origin of freedom in grasping the limitless imagination God had in creating man. Because He created another self: Being entered nothingness (so to speak) and he alone could do this (so to speak: all the words are inappropriate!), but he wanted to create man who gathers the whole cosmos into his self-awareness. Thus man discovers that his freedom is in adhering to God and therefore that the supreme nature of freedom is recognizing that God is all in all.

Anyway, not only is the nature of the dynamics of the Trinity work, but it is also identical to the other concept in St. John, which is that God is love. Because work is love, in that it demands a relationship to which one can dedicate himself. To affirm the other so that he may be helped to walk towards his destiny, all the way to his fulfillment: this is love. And this completely sets aside, far away, all the equivocation and ambiguity of the attempts that we would make in the flesh (and none of us can deny this accusation.)

As a psalm says: "Truth will spring from the earth and justice will look down from heaven." Truth is the affirmation of what is, of reality. Christ is present in reality, and reality flows totally from God ("God is all in all".) Justice comes from heaven; but justice like that of God-real justice, the justice of Being-is love.

If love is shared, if it is "echoed", if it finds an answer, and is accepted, then the phenomenon of friendship happens. In this sense love, friendship and work are three terms which swim around, which lose themselves in the greatness of the Mystery.

But Christ understood and lived these things, so much so that the apostles hardly ever talked with him: they listened, and looked. The whole Gospel is full of these looks, which are not suspicious but full of wonder. To have a man like that among us! (They would kill him immediately, because everyone would go to his house!)

The nature of Being as love exists as friendship, and Jesus-I said-lived it like that. We must imitate Jesus.

So what must we do? Firstly, we must understand that work is the expression of a person who is conscious, aware, in the relationship with any other being: with himself, with his soul, his body, his father, mother and children. Whatever we do is either violence or love, but from morning to night, from when you wake up to when you go to bed, it is work: there is nothing that is not work.

Work must therefore be born as friendship with the Mystery. And friendship with the Mystery means a relationship with Jesus. If at night we go to bed without having thought of Jesus, without him coming into our mind at all... it may have been a terrible day, but let Jesus come to mind at least when you get into bed! We can't let a day go by without memory. Work is born as friendship with God and develops as the definition of the lovingness with which we enter a relationship with anything: the way we treat a field of corn, or the factory we work in, or the house we live in. I'm sorry that I can't take more time over this, but I mean all the relationships we have, all of them! And when it's a question of people, the relationship of friendship lies first of all in one thing: passion for the other's destiny. It's easy to equivocate on this, in the name of carnal instinct.

If work doesn't imply our destiny, that is, the Mystery, as its destination, as the ultimate definition of its wearying dynamics, it is imposture, falsehood. So much so that everyone tends to demolish, to be discontent with the way work is organized, with the timetable...; they stay at home on the slightest pretext. In other words, nothing is treated with loyalty, nothing; we're no longer ourselves. And the more we advance in age, in time, the more this becomes so evident, so urgent, that you realize that you're not capable of reaching this point. It's exactly what we say at Night Prayer: "Into your hands, o Lord, I commend my spirit."21

In this way, there is no situation-however mundane or grandiose-that can dissuade you from contributing to the well-being of man, in God's creation, in the mystery of the Father, or from being an instrument of the mystery of the Father for people and things. It would be an even more useless conception of self. Because: either we accept these things which Christ has inspired in us or else we take refuge in certain invasive philosophies so as to be sure that when we die we'll enter nothingness (so, as the Anglo-Saxons sustain in particular, the elimination of the person could be used to check overpopulation: it's quite normal!)

If worldly criteria prevail in justice, in the generative relationship of man (and therefore in history,) and in the reality of work, then our relationships with others are laden with presumption or indifference; relationships with other people are not without the executioner's ice-cold sword, as Nietzsche said, because man fools himself into thinking he can talk about justice.

In any case, to conceive of Jesus Christ as a worker, he would break the bank even at Fiat! Just think, it's incredible to think of someone who lives with this awareness constantly! He was a real man! Jesus is what makes life human, makes it more human. We've been called to a greatness which is greatness whatever the circumstances: to this no objection can be made. You too will become old, and then you will understand that you'd like to make many objections but they melt before your very eyes, because you can't object to God.

So, keep in mind that work is the whole-the whole!-of life: every relationship, any relationship. Therefore the relationship with Jesus, with God is also work; rather, this is the supreme work. But your house is work too, as is the community you are in: you're not respecting your vocation if you don't have this desire and you don't help each other to live memory in the environment you're in. It's like another world!

Now I want to read two comforting witnesses.

"How I would love my colleagues to be able to meet and know Christ. One of my colleagues, with whom I've worked a lot (practically night and day over the last 6 months), wrote me a note at Christmas in which he told me that these last months have been the most beautiful period of collaboration in his whole life as a scientist and that he is really happy to have a friend and adviser like me. Then he told me personally that I've really helped him in the relationship with his wife and that she has finally accepted to have a child." It's obvious that the influence of the relationship between our friend and her colleague has already had an effect.

And, lastly, I'm going to read you this note that someone else sent me, because I want you to hear this evidence of the fact that it is really possible to bring about what we have said in one's own life. In fact, if you're here...!

"I'm not 'just saying it' when, after morning prayer, I say 'Hi' to Jesus; it means perceiving that within these faces [the faces of those in the house with her], within these walls Jesus is here in person, and the faces of the things and the people surrounding me are his physiognomy. In the instant, even when he can't be seen, or felt, and, above all, when I seem to be foreign to that place, it is really in these moments that my yes to Jesus, and therefore to the charism, is even stronger. I say yes to you, I belong to the charism as you bring it about in the Church, not because everything naturally suits me, but because the charism, as it presents itself, is a sacramental sign of Christ, of Jesus. The charism makes the fullness of my humanity conceivable, the meaning of everything I do. If I say yes to Christ, I therefore say yes to everything that weaves the face of my existence as the charism explains it.…"