Traces N. 6, June 2018

Flower Buds

What newness does faith bring to the world, to this world? We may take this question for granted, ready with answers that risk becoming formulaic based on distinctive values, different life choices, and an understanding of the human person that is radically alternative to many other widespread ideas. Let’s be clear: these are all correct, but they must take on flesh so that they become more than words.

Sometimes we are faced with facts that cannot at all be taken for granted. For example, the leader of a nation in which absolute secularism reigns supreme, in this case French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking of how necessary it is that Christians be present in a society because they “impart an understanding that transcends our present time,” asking that they continue to contribute to the country “three gifts: wisdom, engagement, and freedom.” Or, the fact of an article in the New York Times (which you can find at the new CL website) by David Brooks, expressing his awe at the discovery of a foster home in Italy born from the charism of Fr. Giussani, and describing it as a place of “an embodied philosophy, a belief in beauty expressed in every personal and practical way.” There are many other examples of “non-Christians” who have been surprised by something they encountered and who ask Christians to be themselves to the fullest. Because the world needs us to do this.

We ought to be aware of this so that we can make a true contribution. Christianity is not being asked to provide a “remedy to the soul,” or values, or to re-establish a moral order where nothing has been left standing. But there are facts showing that a different world is possible, places where it is already happening, where newness, like a flower bud, is blossoming. Witnesses who, in the way they live, are introducing others to a new perspective, enabling them to broaden their reason and to breathe more deeply. Thus, the best help we can give is, first and foremost, our conversion, the living out of our faith. “If we do not personally experience Christ as the answer to the in nite longing of our hearts, we will not be able to communicate to others that it is a good for them too,” observes Fr. Julián Carrón in this year’s CL Fraternity Exercises (which have the perceptive title of “See, I am doing something new: do you not perceive it?”).

The “Close-up” is dedicated to this and it is also touched upon throughout the magazine in the letters and other articles, including the one featuring the historic speech by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a speech that is the perfect example of a dialogue that would seem impossible if it were reduced to ideas, but becomes a reality when it takes place among people. Another example is the report from the vacation held in Africa with people from all over the continent. The many testimonies made visible how something has been reborn also there.