La Thuile, Italy. Wikimedia Commons

Labor Day (The Labor of Life)

The Washington community at the beginning of its year. A list of questions faxed to Fr. Giussani, and his answers. A first step toward going more deeply into the themes that emerged at the International Assembly of responsibles in August.

On Labor Day (the American workers' holiday), Monday, September 6th, the Washington community had an assembly. It all started with the desire to share the positive experiences of the International Assembly of CL Responsibles in La Thuile, Italy. Those of us who had been able to be there recounted their personal experience and read the notes taken from the lessons given by Fr. Julián Carrón and from the final summation. Fr. Michael Carvill, a priest in the Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo, baptized four of the group's children, making the day even more special.

The Labor Day encounter was just the beginning: within the next three weeks we met in small groups to reflect on what we had heard in La Thuile. Naturally, numerous questions came up, which we gathered together and faxed to Fr. Giussani. On September 23rd, in another assembly held with Giorgio Vittadini, we read our questions and the answers Fr. Giussani had sent us. As they don't belong only to us, we want to share them with everyone, in the certainty that they can help everyone to understand more intensely and personally the experience of these past months, in America as well as elsewhere in the world.

The friends in Washington.

1. What does it mean that knowledge is affective?
That knowledge is affective means to affirm that the Creator has made man beautifully attuned to every other creature. This can be seen in the curiosity that man has toward everything, so that knowledge is the first characteristic of the human "I." It is the ability to realize, that is, to see the reality with which God puts us in touch. Hence, man begins by looking at all things in a positive way, he feels sympathy for them, that is, for reality.

If the capability to know is given together with a capability for sympathy, man's knowledge thrusts itself on all the things that come from the same Creator, with a capability to love, a possibility of love. Thus, without an affective openness it is not even possible to know things.

2. What does it mean that the relationship with Christ comes before the companionship? How can I live personally the relationship with Christ Himself?
The relationship with Christ comes before the companionship because Christ is the fulfillment of the total meaning of all things. Things are made for man, and so the companionship is the phenomenon that Christ has created, willed, and determined for those who are willing to follow Him. Thus, this companionship is for every man the existence of some chosen, elected people whom the Lord of history has established for man's sake. These people together are called the Church, and she lives in direct proportion to the vitality of the people who find themselves together on this path, having been put in the same place by Christ.

You can live personally the relationship with Christ Himself by belonging to the Church, that is, sharing in her mentality, and loving her affirmation in every instance of society. Indeed, one serves Christ in a community of friends who serve Christ with every work.

3. Carrón describes how young people are "in ruins" (disarray, fragility) However, it seems to me that the young people that I work with have a great career, that they feel all right, self-assured and that they have no need to believe in God. This is what it looks like. What is this "ruin" then?

The "ruin" that Carron talks about is true, real and tragic: because in every instance of life, whatever they do, they are, first, at their roots, completely insecure in everything and, second, they are "slaves" of the powers that be, as St. Paul says.

4. Can you better explain what it means to be fathers and what it means to be sons?
To be fathers means to give life to another according to his nature. His nature is expressed and fulfilled in happiness, which is in the total fulfillment of one's exigencies.

5. What does it mean to live one's engagement in reality with irony?
To live one's engagement with reality with irony means to grasp, whether you understand it or not, the great gap between your imperfection and the great present ideal that Jesus is, who embraces as His even those who betray Him.

6. What does it mean to be missionary?
To be missionary means that one has understood that everything in us is given by Jesus, Man-God, and that for this reason every relationship with reality cannot be true without the desire and the purpose to witness to others what Christ is.