Traces N. 1, January 2019

The True Difference

If there is one thing we cannot allow ourselves in the situation of widespread malaise in which we are immersed, it is a failure to perceived facts that point in the opposite direction. We have these facts right in front of us, at times even enormous ones (how do you describe a food collection for the poor that all over Italy in one day mobilizes 150,000 volunteers and five million donors?), and yet we risk not seeing their importance, which lies not so much in their numbers, but in the method they imply. If we follow the thread of those facts, if we stop to look at them carefully, all the way to their source, it is clear that they emerge from the extemporaneousness of a “lovely initiative” and indicate a road, one which surely goes against the flow of the prevailing diffidence and rancor, but is real and open to everyone. This is the most urgent reality in front of us today.

For this reason, it is crucial to go back and look attentively at the Food Drive held in Italy and in other countries, as well as other gestures that fill daily life, even though they more often remain hidden. If you explore more deeply you find something more than solidarity and volunteerism. You find the wellspring at the origin of many rivulets and streams of good that often flow into works that challenge time. This is called charity, the heart of a way of living and sharing that Christ brought to the world, He Himself a “gift of self, moved” to women and men, to use Fr. Giussani’s words, Who makes it possible and desirable for us to imitate Him.

Charity is the strongest mark of Christianity in history, the true difference, capable of thriving in dark circumstances, eras, and moments, and of building, of generating a different humanity, of attracting those who no longer expect anything from a faith reduced to doctrine and morality. All this happens as long as one condition is met: not losing sight of the origin.

It is no coincidence that before the Food Drive at the end of November and the World Day of the Poor proposed by Pope Francis, Fr. Julián Carrón invited members of the Movement of CL to participate in these and other gestures, primarily as an opportunity to verify the faith, or in other words, an opportunity to pursue more deeply their bond with Christ and together to understand better what this bond can offer today’s wounded world. Does this mean a simple “pat on the back,” some flash of good and goodness here and there, or instead something more solid, perhaps even crucial? This issue of Traces is a small step on this journey of verification, which begins with events and personal testimonies and shifts to society and politics, because charity changes these realities also.