Fr. Luigi Giussani with the then Cardinal Montini

Madrid: Fr. Giussani and the Christian announcement today

Over the weekend, a conference was held in the Spanish capital about the Founder of the movement, which involved intellectuals, religious people and those who knew him. Here is the message of Ignacio Carbajosa, head of the CL community in Spain.
Ignacio Carbajosa

Three days of meetings and dialogues, from 30 January to 1 February, on the "protagonists of the contemporary Church" dedicated to the figure of Fr. Luigi Giussani, fifteen years after his death, organized by the publisher Encuentro, the Asociación Católica de Propagandistas and the Asociación para la Investigación y la Docencia "Universitas". Among those present were Cardinal Scola, via video connection, Rouco Varela, Monsignor Argüello, secretary of the Spanish bishops, Javier Prades and Giancarlo Cesana... Here is the message, from the start of the event, of Ignacio Carbajosa, responsible of Communion and Liberation in Spain.

With this greeting I would, first and foremost, like to applaud the initiative of Ediciones Encuentro, the Asociación Católica de Propagandistas and the Asociación para la Investigación y la Docencia "Universitas", who wanted to devote these days to reflect upon the figure and thought of Fr. Luigi Giussani and, above all, to deepen the relevance of his educational proposal for a troubled world like ours.

Fr. Giussani is certainly a theologian, a great thinker. But, above all, he is a great educator, who has generated a large people who, in so many places throughout the world, have made the old trunk of the Church flourish. My brief greeting wants to be a testimony of how his conception of faith and reason, within his educational proposal, brought out of nothing this typical representative of the post-Christian world, who speaks to you now.

Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen I was condemned, like the whole generation born in the sixties in Spain, to agnosticism. My parent’s faith was not a real factor in my family life, while the active factors, those of a liberal school education and those off the street, had inoculated in me (I must say very effectively) the fundamental dogmas of Enlightenment thinking: positivism (reality does not refer to anything, so natural religiosity is castrated) and Kantian denial that a particular fact in history can have a universal value for reason (so Christianity cannot go beyond mere spirituality and ethics: it does not speak of God's entry into the world that today challenges my freedom).

The natural religious restlessness of my sixteen-year-old self was thus tinged with drama. To complement the dogmas mentioned above, Feuerbach took care to remind me that religion was nothing more than the projection of my desires. The casual encounter with Fr. Giussani, within the experience of Communion and Liberation, lifted the stone of the grave in which I stood, a stone that I considered heavier than that of the sepulchre celebrated on Easter morning.

When I met the people that Giussani had generated, I was able to have the same experience as Jesus' disciples: as for them, God entered my life "as a man, with human form, so that man's thought, imagination, and affectivity were, in a way, "blocked", magnetized by him" (L. Giussani, S. Alberto, J. Prades, Generating Traces in the History of the World, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal 2010, p. 17). Reason and affectivity attracted. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. What is this? Who is this? Kantian dogma was beginning to crack by virtue of this experience, which dilated my reason.

But there was still the dogma of positivism, where, for me, reality was nothing more than a backdrop to activity of thought. Following that experience that had conquered me, however, it took me another ten years to free myself from that void in my relationship with reality. I will always be grateful to Julián Carrón, current president of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, for the way he looked, as the spiritual son of Fr. Giussani, at all my difficulties, accountable to that void I was talking about earlier.

In fact, the "keystone of our way of thinking", says Fr. Giussani, is the tenth chapter of his book, The Religious Sense, in which he teaches us to let ourselves be surprised by the simple fact of the existence of things, until we reach the culmination of a lucid reasoning that is to realize that I am not giving myself life in this instant, that I am "You who make me".

This new gaze towards things came to me through Julián Carrón and lifted the veil that separated me from reality. The last dogma had fallen. Reality revealed itself as the first place for religiosity, the first place for religious dialogue. My troubled history, which I had considered a curse, became a paradigmatic path for the post-Christian world. And I became an educator.

One last consideration. We could say accurately that Fr. Giussani already belongs to the authentic Christian tradition. Therefore, either the historical grace that the person and work of Fr. Giussani brought to the Church and to the world is still alive in the present experience of Communion and Liberation, or we will be condemned to repeat my history: I was condemned to agnosticism, like all my generation... Despite the rich Christian tradition behind me, which today would include the words of Fr. Giussani. In reality, those words would not be able to face the new challenges of the change of epoch we are experiencing, without eyes and hands that make them new.

Pope Francis reminded us of this in the audience he granted to the Movement in 2015: "The reference to the legacy that Don Giussani left you cannot be reduced to a museum of records (...) It certainly entails faithfulness to tradition, but faithfulness to tradition, Mahler said "is not to worship the ashes but to pass on the flame". Don Giussani would never forgive you if you lost the liberty and transformed yourselves into museum guides or worshippers of ashes. Pass on the flame of the memory of that first encounter and be free! Like this, centred in Christ and in the Gospel, you can be the arms, hands, feet, mind and heart of a Church “which goes forth”.