Traces N.5, May 2004

The Victory over Nothingness Is the Great Presence of Something Else

“If we eliminate Christ, we kill God,” Nietzsche had declared, and the whole modern era took this terrible affirmation of one of its tragic prophets seriously. He had seen that the idea of God can be so weakened as to have no effect on human life and consciousness. God can remain a confused and inert idea in the background. This made him feel the presence and the claim of Christ as an unacceptable challenge. Jesus brings God back to the foreground, and through His presence as the Risen One is an unbearable scandal for every philosophy, action or ideology that claims victory in the human question. Nietzsche had therefore concluded that, in order to kill God, it is necessary to eliminate Jesus Christ, by banishing Him to a remote past from where He can no longer have any influence on the present, by opposing the proclaimed fruit of His Resurrection, a people that marches through history and that makes history. At the most, His memory can be recalled for the devotion of pious souls, but nothing more. This is why Péguy cried out, “He is here, as on the first day. Eternally, every day.” It sounds like unacceptable madness in an era that has turned its back on the Church.
The writer Oriana Fallaci, in a sally in defense of the West, defines herself a “Christian atheist,” a contradiction in terms, which describes the situation of a large part of present-day mankind. People still accept Christianity’s arsenal of cultural and moral values, but not its claim to be an event in the present of a continuous renewal. The feeling of life is elsewhere. That’s why we can read articles of famous Catholic journalists for whom “it is not important that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” and of equally famous unbelievers who ask themselves whether “it matters or not if there is a cross” on someone’s coffin. What is the difference?
At the end of his intervention at the Spiritual Exercises of the Fraternity of CL (which we publish on page one), Fr Giussani said, “The victory is the victory of Easter and of immortality. Thus, the victory of Easter is the Christian people. This is the victory of Christ over all the ‘victory’ of nothingness.”
The whole of our human adventure pivots around the way we understand the word “destiny,” and it ends up either in defeat or in victory. If destiny is a faraway unknown, it appears as a potential enemy that brings us only troubles, and eventually death. But if it is present, it becomes our main ally in the fight for life: a Mystery that reveals itself as “superabundance” of Being and not as the lack of something, as Julián Carrón said in Rimini during the Spiritual Exercises.
The Church brings visibly into the world a destiny that is present in a reality made of men and women who are changed, the beginning of change for the world itself. Christians are precisely the face with which the Christ event marches through history as the promise of a truer humanity fulfilled. When man refuses this offer and draws away from it, he is forced at once, in order to be coherent, to forget or deny part of what is human, always. If we eliminate the flesh of the Mystery, if we banish it among the clouds, it is as if we were to kill God, destiny, and man along with it.
Christ’s presence is the victory that it is possible today–after two thousand years–to see, to hear and to touch, in the reality of a people. It is an awareness of life that is always positive and a vibration of continuous renewal, of reasonable insistence on the positive. It happened to those who first recognized Christ at Emmaus or on the lakeshore after the morning of the Resurrection. It happens today to the people that is constituted every day by that heritage, by that encounter with the victory that has made the whole of life, even in its dark moments, a morning, always a morning.