The "de corpore insepulto" Mass for Jesús Carrascosa (Photo: Lupe de la Vallina)

"The new life born of Christ"

Javier Prades' homily at the"de corpore insepulto" Mass for Jesús Carrascosa on January 11, and the message of the Apostolic Nuncio in Spain, Monsignor Bernardito Cleopas Auza.
Javier Prades

We have gathered this evening to celebrate the Eucharist as thanksgiving and offering for Jesús Carrascosa, known as Carras to most of us, Carrascón... We continue to accompany and watch over his mortal remains with affection and faith until tomorrow when they will be laid in the ground. If we want to fully understand what we have experienced during so many years of friendship with Carras, what we are currently experiencing, we must allow ourselves to be illuminated by the truest gaze there is, that which the Mystery itself offers us through its Word.

The first evidence is that Carras' life was true, is true and will be true forever: a life inseparable from that of Jone, with whom he recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.

It has been a very fruitful life, one that has transmitted the gusto for life, the meaning of life, to tens and hundreds of people. That is why it is right to acknowledge what so many of you have said in recent days: he has been a father, with that paternity that is born of the Christian encounter and which in turn is nourished by having been a son. This is why, in order to understand the fruitfulness of Carras' life, we must speak at the same time of his paternity and his sonship: he was a father because he was a son, and he continued to be a father until the age of 84.

The historical form of this fruitfulness is the new life born of Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit, which he received with the unique accent of Fr. Giussani's charism. This encounter changed Carras' life and he then transmitted this fruitfulness in the very life of the movement for the whole Church. An ecclesial fruitfulness that is immediately recognisable in the superabundance with which he treated us. It is exactly the opposite of the widespread idea that what is Christian belittles life and the gusto for it, in all its expressions, as if the sign of recognition of being Christian were that one lives less humanly precisely because one is Christian.

Carras’ was a rich and intense humanity, recognisable to anyone. And what he experienced over so many decades is proof of this: from his family origins in Gijón, to the years of formation in the novitiate of the Society of Jesus, to the intense and turbulent years of militancy in the HOAC, and his experience of social commitment in the post-conciliar years, together with his dear friends José Miguel and Carmina. Limiting ourselves to the years when they were already in Madrid, they lived in the Palomeras slum, then in a flat assigned to them by the public administration in the working-class neighbourhood of Vallecas, then in a house in the Puente de Vallecas area, and then in various residences in Rome, until the last beautiful house in Via Aurelia, in the last years when Jone assisted Popes St John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.

Read also - The message of the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Auza

If we focus on his commitment, perhaps the most obvious thing to say is that he was an educator of generations of students, especially high school students, and that he accompanied hundreds of university students, young and adult couples, the elderly, people with the most diverse needs, along with Jone, in his understanding of physiotherapy and the social dimension of this work that is so valuable to those in need...

But merely describing these facts does not suffice to grasp the origin of his fruitfulness, which matured to his last period in Spain, where at the age of 82 he experienced a new beginning, until his last breath, with a serene and joyful spirit and with an even greater impact than his astonishing pace of visits and travels in recent years to different communities and groups. The concrete, conscious and beloved root of this was his 'yes' to Christ, through obedience to Fr. Giussani and the Movement in all its leaders, which led him to do what he would not have done if he had not followed the obedience of faith (the vocation): to be a cleaner, sell books, be a religion teacher, deal with public relations with high ecclesiastical and civil authorities – these are all humble jobs –, as well as assume positions of responsibility and even give them up when it was appropriate. His experience helps us understand what Paul says to the Ephesians: "That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts; that being rooted and founded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge.”

Read also - Davide Prosperi's message

If there is an unmistakable feature of the lives of Carras and Jone, it is their uninterrupted and truly immeasurable hospitality. This is why the sign to which the prophet Isaiah relates the time of the Lord's final consolation, his victory over evil and death, is so clear to us: "The Lord of hosts will make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” We know very well that this is not a metaphor! Nor do we need much explanation to realise that those banquets were a sign of something more, always something more, that their concern for each of us was, in some way, at the service of the salvation of all, as appears in St. Luke's account of the Eucharist that we have just heard: “They went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. And when the hour came, he reclined at the table, and the apostles with him… For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table. Yet I am among you as the One who serves.” Few statements in the synoptic Gospels have such density in identifying the mystery of Christ as these phrases do. Even the overflowing hospitality and service of Carras, whom we have seen countless times with his kitchen apron on, had no other purpose than to collaborate for the good and salvation of the people, and it was so until the end. We have seen what St. Bernard says: “The measure of loving God is to love him without measure” (De diligendo Deo 16, 41).

Carras loved to focus on phrases from the School of Community that he repeated as pedagogical formulas, some wonderful, which have proven their effectiveness as we remember them: “He who embraces the strongest wins.” This is pure Carras. Others were jokes, as he admitted, laughing at himself. I remember a very beautiful phrase. He repeated that “the proof that the Church is a continuity of Christ is that it is one, holy, catholic and apostolic; the Church is comprehensive and inclusive, and these are humanly impossible traits.” A mature conscience, says Fr. Gius, becomes unity in order to understand and include everything. The lives of Carras and Jone give us many clues of this being 'comprehensive and inclusive', of this humanly impossible harmony. For example, that living tenderness and emotional intimacy between them until their last breath, through which they enjoyed their being together in that space that was just for them, and which they lived together with both their tireless availability for the mission entrusted to them through their service to the Movement.

Carras was also able to overcome, for example, the "public school-private school" dialectic, so widespread in Spain. Many of you here met Carras in private schools in the north of Madrid and your lives have change because of a religion teacher who taught in schools in this wealthy area. But many of you are here also from the Vallecas and your lives have changed because you met a religion teacher in the high schools of this working-class neighborhood. He went beyond these contrasts which humanly seem insurmountable. He was a friend to both rich and poor, lived in poverty and lived in wonderful homes. He accompanied spouses and families, from the first couples who got married in Spain, to adult families; he had an infinite esteem for the consecrated lay people, the Memores Domini, with whom he shared this last period; and he cared about the priests and always took care of them. He went beyond the contradictions that divide and impoverish the Church.

Is it possible to imitate such a life? Perhaps not. Probably, if any of us wanted to reproduce the traits of his humanity by following a pattern, we would come out with an image, a sort of caricatured, grotesque model. But we can follow what allowed Carras' humanity to be like that. We can all follow and learn from the story that he lived in the Church, that many of us here live in the movement, until faith informs our lives. Faith in Jesus Christ informed Carras' humanity, which was his own, but the faith is the same and the fruit of faith that informs life flourishes in the ways that God wills in the lives of each of us.

The last word I heard Carras say in this life was on Sunday, at the end of the Eucharistic celebration, in a whisper: “Thank you.” It is a beautiful word to end with. Since more of my words would not suffice, and perhaps those of others would not suffice either, let us give thanks to God for the present and future life of Carras, in the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians: “To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Madrid, Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
January 11, 2024