Traces N.2, February 2007

A Free Friendship

The recognition obtained by the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation twenty-five years ago from the Holy See meant for Fr. Giussani–and for the Movement–a confirmation of paternity and an indication of a direction. He spoke of it many times. In the documents, stories, and interviews we present in this issue, all this is shown. The emergence of groups of adults, freely formed and freely bound to each other, who gather and share judgments and steps of life, is a phenomenon rooted in a desire: that the faith count in the present, that the desired familiarity with Jesus Christ be a determining factor in daily things. In this sense, the Fraternity is a fact of freedom.
Precisely during the years when much of the dominant thinking–which also infiltrated the Church–seemed to entrust its hope for the future in organizational ability and the creation of functional and impeccable structures and organisms, Fr. Giussani wagered once again on freedom. Toward the end of the 1970s, he showed those who had grown up with him and were by now adults the only way to react to the “demoralization” of the faith that can happen with the passage of time and the difficulties of life: a loyalty to one’s heart and a free friendship that help keep our eyes raised to the gift of the presence of Christ, to recognize Him when His traces are encountered.
The Fraternity has a counter-current genius. It goes against the commonplace that says time and the vicissitudes of life wear away the enthusiasm of the beginning. It was easy then, as it is now, to think that the ardor of faith is kept burning through heavy engagement in civil, cultural, and social concerns. It was easy then, as it is now, to hold that Christianity is a strong experience because of Christian discourses or the outcome of one’s own efforts, and to understand the presence of the Church only as an organized force for dialoguing with the world. Just as in the beginning of Christianity and in various periods of crisis and trial, when the faith was testified to by groups of people who gathered in homes, monasteries, and confraternities that became fulcrums of charity, free judgment, and valorization of all good things, so today, in the same way, faith realizes its positive influence in the life of peoples.
Supporting every adult commitment in the civic and occupational sphere, the Fraternity is the way each of us can keep alive the quest for familiarity with Christ, the same quest of those who first followed Him; it is the very way Christ showed them–“Wherever two or three gather in my name…”–the same simple quest to stay with Him, because in that Presence is the hope and gladness of life. A Movement that, then as now, is judged and esteemed, as in the words of Cardinal Bertone in the Traces interview, for the intense capacity for involvement with every aspect of reality, finds in the experience of the Fraternity its central focus, its most mature image, as if to say that everything, two thousand years ago as well as today, depends on the relationship that each of us has with Christ and the destiny revealed in Him.
No organizational structure, no well-crafted discourse, can substitute for the personal experience of faith. This is demonstrated in the many stories of the experience of Fraternity that these pages recount. There are stories of every kind, from every latitude.