Traces N.5, May 2006

“Everything for Me You Were and Are”

It must have happened to you recently to have heard a mother express her anxieties over her children’s future, or to have heard a businessman complaining about the present economic situation. You must have seen some of the countless statistics that indicate a growing sense of bewilderment regarding the future, and a feeling of insecurity that seems to dominate all sectors of life, expressed especially by the younger generations. It is almost as if every good expectation were destined sooner or later to lead to nothing.
You will have heard these things a thousand times, since insecurity is one of the prevalent traits of our age, poisoning many areas of personal and community life. It seems, moreover, to be a permanent characteristic, above all when you look at young people’s lives. All the same, it is a somewhat paradoxical situation, for although many people are rather decisive over role models and behavior (for example regarding their jobs and their assessments of public life), they are far less sure of themselves when it comes to taking a stand and making choices in the more important areas of personal life.
People are sure that working hard is worthwhile, but rather vague about the reasons for doing so. The same thing happens in the delicate field of affection: they are very firm in laying claim to the need for important relationships, but they harbor grave doubts when it comes to making them stable, or staking their future on them. In a word, there is a kind of schizophrenia in which people devote themselves at times with great sacrifice in pursuit of certain models and certain objectives, but then they are, as it were, paralyzed when it comes to verifying their motives. It is as if the “I” were not there.
An insecure person is a perfect plaything for power of any kind, the ideal prey. He will end up, more or less unconsciously, following the general trend of thing–which is the direction in which the power wants to push things, with the help of its various tools. A person insecure in his judgment and affections will be easy prey to fashions. But since insecurity, as a law, leads to the paralysis of life, in order to live, people prefer to insure themselves against this risk by living “as if all was secure,” which means living less, and with a gnawing suspicion that it is all false. One can even declare that he loves life, saying he is sure of this love, while all the time nurturing a sort of anguished bewilderment.
In this age of insecurity, Christians offer certainty as a way to live. The Pope has a certainty, which he cried out to the whole world over Easter. But this is not like the hateful presumption of those who think they are in the right, and try to impose on others clear ideas on everything, along with rules of behavior.
“Everything for me You were and are,” wrote the Italian poet Ada Negri. The security that puts energy back into life–for work, for affections, for attention to the problems in which we all find ourselves–does not come from a hypocritical ethical consideration of oneself. It comes from the relationship with something greater, which is not a vague dream, but a presence that corresponds to the heart, today.
“You live for love of something happening now” was the title of the Spiritual Exercises of the Fraternity of CL in Rimini, at the end of April. Just as it happened to the disciples of Emmaus, bewildered and deluded, the risen Christ comes up to us, as Fr. Carrón said, to draw us out of the nothingness in which everything seems to end up. It is His presence, His companionship that shows itself victorious, challenging all skepticism and cynicism, and fulfilling the expectations of the heart. It is not a security that comes from the presumption of your own abilities, but the certainty of the existence of a You, of a bond with Christ, who becomes a companion on the way in every instant through “the men and women who reflect his presence” (Benedict XVI).
Insecurity makes people stop short like children at the door of a room they are afraid to enter, reducing the perimeter of their relationship with reality. Faith launches us into an ongoing research, exalts reason and makes it more attentive than ever to reality, and more curious. So, just as uncertainty gives rise to detachment from things and from circumstances, faith launches us into reality again as true protagonists.