Father Luigi Giussani

Full of Gratitude

Here are some excerpts from the homilies of the Archbishop of Boston, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Primate of Ireland, the Archbishop of Milan, and the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
Sean Cardinal O'Malley

Five years after his dies natalis (February 22, 2005), the Church and the communities throughout the world went back to Fr. Giussani “with their hearts,” with celebrations in more than 240 towns (the list can be found on the website www.clonline.org). Here are some excerpts from the homilies of the Archbishop of Boston, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Primate of Ireland, the Archbishop of Milan, and the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

Fr. Giussani’s charism was to help so many young people discover Christ in their lives. It is in the Church, in communion, that we have the best opportunity to experience Christ and his friendship. The poison of our contemporary culture is the extreme individualism of the age. (...) Fewer people participate in Church and community. Fewer people get married. Discipleship means being part of a family that is walking on the same road toward Jerusalem. To be a disciple is to be mentored in the faith. We learn to be disciples by being part of a community. It’s like learning a language. We learn a language by being part of a community that speaks that language.

The corrosive power of secularism is so clearly seen in Europe. We read that in Spain only 15% of the Catholics practice their faith, and 80% of those are involved in the ecclesial movements. Serious faith formation, the support of a community, and a shared spiritual energy to evangelize are the gifts that these new communities have brought to the Church. The ecclesial communities also help lead people to a deeper conversion.

I urge all of you to be faithful to the charism you have received. Be faithful to the School of Community, to develop a deeper sense of your own vocation in Communion and Liberation. Help promote the initiatives of our local Church of evangelization. Help people to discover the answer to that question: “Who do you say that I am?” Your presence is to be a leaven, a light that will help others discover God’s presence, His Love and His Beauty so that you can share that with the whole community. We are so grateful for the life and the legacy of Fr. Giussani. We hold him up in prayer knowing that he is surely praying for us.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
He challenged every one of us

Once again we come together as a group of friends to remember the life and work of Msgr. Luigi Giussani, who died five years ago. We come as a group of friends, some of whom knew Msgr. Giussani directly and whose lives have been shaped and changed by that personal contact and by the inspiration of his message. Others have not had that direct experience, but feel inspired by the path of life that Don Giussani proposed. As I was writing this short reflection. I spent some time trying to change that word “proposed” but could not find a suitable word.
I was afraid that some might interpret that word as if Don Giussani proposed a pre-packed message for life. That was not his style. He challenged each one of us to shape our lives, to understand our lives, to construct our lives on a very personal encounter with the Lord, who is present and active in our world and within the cultures and the realities of this world. Don Giussani was not simply one who proposed, but one who led people personally into the mystery of Christ and indeed of the mystery of their own lives. Giussani’s message is not one of simple acceptance of the world and its culture but neither is it one which simply rejects modern culture. The challenge for each of our lives is to be able to discern, as the history of our world evolves, what is good in that evolution but also to discern what in that emerging culture has taken a wrong turn and is inevitably going to lead to failure and almost irreparable damage of what is truly good and truthful and honest. Giussani challenge us to carry out this dual discernment: not just to run with the flavor of the day, in modern thought, but neither just to criticize and run away into a protective environment.

Father Luigi Giussani

Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi
We call ourselves his children

We are remembering, returning with our hearts, to the figure of Fr. Giussani as a man, a Christian, a priest, a teacher, an educator, and a master of Christian life in the Church and in society, a friend and father. (…) It is up to us–and not only to us–to continue the blossoming and the maturation in time of Fr. Giussani’s ecclesial charism, by preserving what he said, wrote, and did, and above all by letting ourselves be inspired and stimulated–and in some way transformed as regards the new situations of the Church and society. (…)
Let each one of us say, with certain hope and overflowing joy, “Where sin abounded, the grace of the Lord abounded even more!” Yes, because for us mercy is not a simple, vague feeling, a moral disposition, but the living flesh of Christ, human and crucified flesh! In this, too, and above all, we can call ourselves “children of Fr. Giussani.” (…) We only need to remember his testimony in St. Peter’s Square on May 9, 1998, at John Paul II’s Meeting with the Ecclesial Movements and the New Communities: “The Mystery as mercy remains the last word even on all the awful possibilities of history. The real protagonist of history is the beggar: Christ who begs for man’s heart, and man’s heart that begs for Christ.” (…)

Thus, the Christian event finds among its fundamental structures the mystery of the Incarnation and that of the Resurrection of the body. It is upon this interpretation of the central nucleus of the Christian experience that the spirituality that Fr. Giussani lived, and which he spread amongst his disciples and friends, was always rooted and powerfully and lucidly developed. Christianity is not a mere theory, nor a generic moralism or an attempt at human self-realization, but the most personal encounter of Christ with each one of us. (…) This is the encounter that changes life–firstly, in one’s way of looking, watching, valuing, interpreting, and judging reality, every reality, in personal, social, and cosmic history, a way that refers to intelligence or human reason’s “inseparable ally” of the Christian faith. Yes, a reason that is bold enough to approach the threshold of the mystery so as to sense it as a concrete possibility and a faith that, before the gratuitous revelation of the mystery, demands reason, honors it, confirms it in its capacities. (…)

Christian judgment on reality and the formation of conscience according to the Christian faith are the basis and strength of that educational commitment which is, without doubt, as the Holy Father often repeats, one of the Church’s present pastoral priorities. (…) I think that the teaching, life, and works of Fr. Giussani have much to offer our communities in this regard. (…) The encounter with Christ changes life: in judgments and in works. Christian discernment on social reality flows from its interior dynamism into action; it becomes an inevitable appeal to the greatest gift God gave us, the gift of freedom, called to bear fruit responsibly in attitudes and behavior, in lifestyle and in concrete actions, in initiatives and works of the most varied kind, but always coherent with Christ’ style of action.

Dear friends, if I have repeated some convictions that, for you of Communion and Liberation, are more than normal, it is precisely because I find in them the human and Christian reasons for the ever more mature realization of that fraternal communion and that universal missionary drive that are among the most precious gifts and the strongest commitments that the Church receives daily from Christ, her Spouse and Savior.

José Saraiva Cardinal Martins
Passion for Christ and for the Church

In his personal life, Fr. Luigi Giussani had a very deep sense of effective communion with the visible Church through communion with his own Bishop and with the Pope. “This is the ‘form’ of every true Christian community, the factor that guarantees authenticity, integration in the mystery of Christ, and therefore the sharing in its redemptive power,” he wrote in one of his first books. He lived this communion increasingly with devout obedience to all his bishops in Milan. This communion was also his main concern as regards all the popes with whom he had relationships of devout obedience and of convinced sequela, from Paul VI to John Paul II.
Over the whole course of his life, Fr. Giussani insisted on two priorities: “The Christian community in a given ambit constitutes the presence of Jesus and the power of God which makes possible the birth and the spread of His Kingdom in so far as it is sustained by the authority, (…) in so far as it is mission and a lived mission. (…) The second element on which he equally insisted is unity, as tangibly expressed in conscious participation in the Church’s life and in the sacraments, which “tend to generate a whole communitarian structure of life (…) from the way of conceiving one’s own existence and the world’s existence to the way of evaluating events, planning for the future, approaching one’s work, manipulating reality, and, in particular, the use of one’s own means.”(…) Fr. Giussani was therefore above all a convinced son of the Church. It is precisely from here that the fruitfulness of his missionary charism arose, along with his remarkable educative commitment. The missionary and ecumenical spirit always moved Fr. Giussani, from the earliest years of his seminary formation, in an openness toward every place and every person where he could meet a manifestation of the Mystery of God as Truth and Beauty. This passion for Christ and for His Church is revealed in the ecclesial fecundity of so many works. (...)

The method he proposed for the Christian announcement rests on two pivots: the determined awareness that the contents of faith need to be embraced consciously and the need to verify this proposal in action. Everything is judged in the light of elementary experience–in other words, in that complex of evidences and needs that constitute the original structure of every man. (…)

Thus, the announcement of Christ, the totalizing event for human life and the center of history, proposed to people’s freedom in the encounter with the Christian community, becomes a proposal of life. (…)

Here is born the acknowledgment of Christ and adherence to His presence in the Church’s life and, therefore, as tension toward holiness. The more Christ takes possession of his life, the more man becomes aware of the urgency to give Him his whole self, albeit within his frail humanity: it is Peter’s emotive “yes” to the Lord’s threefold question.

Fr. Carrón’s Salutation to Cardinal Tettamanzi
Your Eminence,
I want to thank you in the name of all of us for your fatherly participation in this Holy Mass on the fifth anniversary of Fr. Giussani’s birth in heaven.

We are full of gratitude to the Lord for his life, and for this reality that was born from him that is still alive and commits us to identify more and more with his charism. The more time passes, the more we realize that it is the adequate response to the circumstances in which we are living. We note with gratitude that, as we follow him, Fr. Giussani becomes more and more a father to us, he generates us more and more. I see it when I visit our communities throughout the world and here in Italy. It is striking how he continues to be present and continues to accompany us with all he has left us and with all that he is working in us and for us in the present.

His paternity makes possible in our life that experience of Christ that your Eminence described so well: “The relationship between Jesus and us is not a generic indistinct relationship… but a personal, a most personal relationship. It is up to each one of us in his own uniqueness and unrepeatableness [Homily on the Solemnity of St. Ambrose, December 7, 2009]. From this experience blossoms that openness of life, recalled by the Holy Father in his message for this Lent: “Thanks to Christ’s action, we may enter into the ‘greatest’ justice, which is that of love (cf. Rom 13, 8-10), the justice that recognizes itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected.” It is this infinite gratitude for the Lord and for the grace of Fr. Giussani’s charism that makes us consign our existence to your person as Pastor, in readiness to serve the Church of St. Ambrose and St. Charles, which generated Fr. Giussani’s priesthood and enjoyed and enjoys his fecundity, for the good of our brothers in the faith and of all men of goodwill who sincerely seek, in the struggle of existence, a full meaning for their lives. Thank you, your Eminence!