Traces N.3, March 2009

To the Heart of Reality

An editorial by Cardinal Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice, that was recently published in Avvenire, the Italian Catholic daily newspaper, is well worth a careful reading, and we offer it here for you in this issue of Traces. Scola describes two ever-present temptations in dealing with the faith (the reduction of Christianity to a pure “civil religion, a mere ethical cement,” and the “crypto-diaspora” of those who announce “the pure, naked Cross,” running away from the battles of history), and then indicates another way–perhaps the only way–to live Christianity: “proposing the event of Jesus Christ in all its fullness, irreducible to any human alignment, showing the beauty and fecundity of the faith for everyday life.” Hope, therefore. A desire for worldly hegemony, as some accuse? Hardly!

These issues need to be explored further, certainly not in the few lines of this page, but in the work of the coming weeks, all the more so because they synchronize surprisingly–and movingly–with the educative itinerary we’ve been following in recent months. Here we pick up just one cue from it to sketch out the common theme running through many topics addressed in this issue, from Europe of the “new rights” to the various testimonies. Cardinal Scola’s editorial highlights the nature of Christianity and the dynamic of the faith: the Event, a present Fact, “Something that comes before,” to use Fr. Giussani’s expression that is slowly becoming familiar again to us, and the testimony, the “untiring telling” that “offers everyone hope.” But what does it mean to testify to Christ? And what does it mean to do so today, in a reality that literally seems gone mad, incapable of using reason fully? This is the challenge to which we are called.

In order to affirm values, we can unsheathe and brandish very legitimate arguments, throwing ourselves into the fray armed with correct doctrine to contrast the folly of those who deny even the most obvious evidence. We can do this, and we see it done often these days. It’s a strong temptation for all of us. But this isn’t Christianity. It isn’t that Event that happens, that bursts into our life through witnesses who help us understand what life is. It isn’t that Fact that teaches us matchlessly, because it accompanies us to the depths of reality, in the simplest way, by having us encounter people who live differently, who embrace suffering differently, who establish a family differently, and who, in that “difference” so charged with reasons and attractiveness, because it corresponds to our heart, offer the world limitless hope: His Presence. Without Him, there’s no explanation for that difference. That capacity for living reality would be impossible. But instead, it’s there. “To defend life, Fr. Giussani made our blood throb with a fever for life,” Fr. Julián Carrón reminded a group of CL responsibles some time ago. The witness. It’s a dizzying challenge, but the only one truly worth accepting.