Bishop Oscar Cantoni

"A truly ecclesial man"

The words of Monsignor Oscar Cantoni, Bishop of Como, during his homily at the Mass for the centenary of Fr. Giussani’s birth. Como Cathedral, Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata, February 21, 2022.
Oscar Cantoni

It has now become a tradition to meet here together, every year, in memory of Fr. Giussani. The celebration of the Eucharist this evening, however, takes on a very special meaning as we want to joyfully remember the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Fr. Giussani, whose life was entirely lived in full service of God, of the Church and of so many friends who lived in the light of his witness and his teaching.
What Saint Paul VI emphasized, that is, that today "modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 41), has been realized.

The figure of Fr. Giussani and his teaching continue to be attractive even today; there is no doubt about the fascination, which is still alive and burning, that he cultivated for the Lord Jesus, the One through whom our personal history acquires total meaning. Fr. Giussani constantly emphasized that Christ, the revealer of the Father, is not an idea, but a real presence that is audible, visible, tangible within a historical phenomenon that is the Church. This is an evocative proposal, such that it can be taken seriously.

"Christ is the life of my life," he said, that is, He has made it fully liveable and fruitful, and it would be nice if each of us could see this, in full truth and humbly, in the course of our own existence. And he went on to say: "Christ ‘bumped into’ my life, my life ‘bumped into’ Christ, precisely so that I should learn to understand that He is the central point of everything, of the whole of my life. In Him is summed up all that I would desire, all that I look for, all that I sacrifice.”

From this emerges the figure of a man, attracted and conquered by Christ and therefore a non-self-centred person, a founder who lived not for himself, in defence of himself and to promote his movement, but who gave his life willingly, and with passion, for the work of Another. He was, therefore, a truly ecclesial man, whose works, as St. James recalls in the first reading, were inspired by meekness and wisdom together.

This is why we consider Fr. Giussani a great gift of God for the Church today, which is so in need of people with a prophetic gaze, who know how to use the Gospel for the people of today, whose answers are capable of deeply satisfying the needs of the heart and making it rejoice.

Tonight we also commemorate the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Fraternity. May all members make love of Christ the measure of everything and the goal of their every action. May they face everything according to the mindset of Christ and act in all circumstances according to His thinking.

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Coming to the Gospel proclaimed this evening, we can identify ourselves with the first disciples Jesus encountered, who asked him privately why they were unable to cast out demons, that is, to deal with the evil that hinders and opposes the Kingdom of God.

In spite of our apostolic commitment, within the society in which we work, the fruit of our common baptismal priesthood, we often experience the prevalence of evil, emptiness and nothingness, so much resistance to the work of grace, and we feel that our efforts seem to be in vain and so do not bear the desired fruits.
The Lord keeps us humble, trusting not in ourselves and in our works, but rooted constantly in Him, who has overcome all resistance by the power of love alone.
May our perseverance in assiduous and daily prayer, the fruit of our faith, which is born as a recognition of reason, allow us to proceed along the path of life, grateful to the Lord who multiplies the good we do and spreads it for the benefit of many, even without our knowledge.