Preparing EncuentroSevilla

Seville: the first Encuentro

Hundreds of friends, over eighty volunteers. Intense dialogues on suffering, education, social media, charitable work. And then music, exhibitions... And a single theme: 'To truly live'. A chronicle of the three days in Seville.
María Serrano

"EncuentroSevilla was born from the provocation of Archbishop José Ángel Saiz in his presentation of the pastoral plan. He emphasized four fundamental points: culture, youth, social networks and charitable work. It was immediately clear to me that we had to delve deeper into them, and a group of friends decided to join us in this adventure, which was also born out of a healthy envy at seeing initiatives such as EncuentroMadrid, EncuentroCastellón or Punt Barcelona,” explains Manuel Valdivia, president of EncuentroSevilla.

Over the course of three days, from 20 to 22 October, and thanks to the hospitality of the Archbishopric that offered us the space of the San Isidoro Faculty of Theology in Seville, different faces helped us to deepen a common judgment. Friday opened with a welcome from the president and the team of volunteers, and then with the first , very urgent question: can one truly live suffering? The desire to take life head-on, to have new and exciting experiences, for which one is willing to go to extremes, comes up against two major obstacles: routine and suffering. The first is dominated by the absence of dopamine highs, that inner drug to which today's world is addicted; the second is that undeserved setback of fate, always unfair, in which we face the big questions about our existence. José Manuel Roás, father of five children including Pablo, who has West syndrome, and Mar Mayoral, a nurse, dialogued, starting from their personal perspectives and experiences, trying to give an answer.

The exhibition on Fr. Giussani

To educate is to accompany. On Saturday we embarked on "The Path to Truth," together with three educators: Juan Ramón de la Serna, director of the J.H. Newman International School and the Nicoli International School; Andrés González Becerra, a Salesian priest who offers his life every day in Seville’s neighbourhood of "Las Tres Mil Viviendas"; and Juan Jurado, Vice-President of the San Pablo Andalusia CEU Foundation and the Fernando III CEU University Foundation. "Educating means accompanying the other to discover themselves. It means making them grow, so that they reach their fullness. It means bringing out the best in a person so that they can become themselves,” concluded De la Serna.

Experiencing suffering and being educated is the key to existing and being whole at work, a world that has changed and is changing at a dizzying pace. But only those who are able to recover the meaning of their work and look for the way to do it can move towards a future that does not inevitably lead to decadence, as Iván Navas and José Ángel Pérez testified in an intense dialogue on the value of the person also in the professional sphere.

During a talk

And in a world dominated today by the screens of technology, by those “parallel but different worlds” of which Zygmunt Bauman speaks, what does it really mean to live? The web is a resource of our time and represents a source of knowledge and relationships that was unimaginable until recently. But because of the profound transformations that technology has brought about in the logic of production, circulation and use of content, experts point to the risks that threaten a hyper-connected life. Professor and writer Isidro Catela and priest and influencer Antonio Guzmán testified that reality is always stronger and more attractive than the virtual world.

In this online world that traps us, we also find realities that 'bring' us back to real life with a proposal, a path, an open question and even a method. And one of these is music, which supports us in this 'truly living'. It is much more than a distraction or mere entertainment, it is a way to understand the inestimable questions of the human as explained by the philosopher Chema Alejos, who guided us in listening to various modern songs, from Billie Eilish to Florence + the Machine, via Rosalía, María Arnal or the electronic music of The Blaze. Because none of these artists are content to 'get by'.

The 'Living, a great adventure' concert

Truly living, living with joy. “It was great to be able to share this joy with the communities of Osuna, Seville, Córdoba, Málaga and Granada and with all those who wanted to come and really live with us,” Valdivia continues. EncuentroSevilla was above all a meeting of friends, where we also shared with joy moments during meals or the journey through this 'truly living' thanks to a concert offered by Bea Ares and her friends. "Many of the songs we listen to every day are about a cry for life, some show us that this cry hides the beginning of a great adventure," said the artist, with whom we sang songs by Amaral or Avicii, but also Salve Rociera.

Miguel de Haro and Julián Aguilar, on the other hand, presented their experiences of charitable work, making us realise how we can feel within ourselves all the desire for the other, whoever he or she may be, out of love for their destiny. "To the man who suffers, God does not give a reason that explains everything, but offers his response in the form of a presence that accompanies.” The Pope says that God "wanted to share this path with us," in the scandalously simple fact of a story of goodness that "opens a passage of light" in all suffering. The need to respond to the need of the other, so original that we are hardly aware of it, and to develop it in all its dignity and power, opens it wide to the purpose, to what gives meaning to this aspiration and fulfils it. "Christ has revealed the deepest why, the meaning of everything, revealing to us that the supreme law of being and life is charity." A God who "loving us, did not send us his riches – as he could have done, revolutionising our situation – but made himself miserable like us, 'shared' our nothingness."

The closing meeting

The concluding event was entitled ‘The truth will set you free', because in order to 'truly live' it is important to understand the implications of this 'truly'. Monsignor Valdivia, Auxiliary Bishop of Seville, and José Luis Restán, President of Ábside Media, testified how the search for truth is one of the needs that runs through the human heart. "Reason, affection and freedom proceed in parallel, even if we sometimes get distracted in this search. But what does it really mean to live, what are we talking about when we talk about the 'truth' that makes freedom grow?" was the question posed by Restán. Monsignor Valdivia said: “To truly live means to accept that life is not given to us by ourselves; it is to live knowing that life is a vocation, it is a response to a call from One who loves us. In this way, life is full of meaning: it is responding to a Love.”

Read also - Russia: An unpredictable unity

A dozen lectures and round tables were intertwined with two exhibitions: an exhibition on the life of Fr. Luigi Giussani and the screening of the documentary El sí de Marcos, dedicated to Marcos Pou, a seminarian who died suddenly after beginning his journey of dedication to God. Both are witnesses of this great life, of this possibility and desire for a true life, in all circumstances. And that life changes in the encounter with Christ.