Traces N.7, July/August 2010

The One True Need

At a certain point in your work, you want to stop a moment and look back–to see how much you have grown, what steps you have taken. And, usually, if you think about it, the best moment for doing this is the summer, when the “social year” slows down and there is more time, even for reflecting. It can help us judge. Let’s try, then, to look at the past months and a path that, for those who put themselves into play, was truly strewn with challenges–different circumstances, but all dense, rich with opportunities to test the “pertinence of the faith to the needs of life.” There are many examples, such as the pedophilia drama and the ensuing cry for justice, which remains desperate, until it is embraced seriously and deeply, as only Christ can do. Or May 16th, with the invitation to go to Saint Peter’s Square not just to support the Pope, “but for us to be supported in the faith, in our experience of faith,” as Julián Carrón reminded us. Looking at these facts is the best way to bring out the foundations of the education to the faith. Freedom is the key factor–because before a fact you are forced to say “yes” or “no” and follow that with a judgment, the fire to grasp and make these facts your own, as experience.

Here, the simplicity of Christianity emerges in all its power, because if you look well at such issues, like many others that worry us, the foundational judgment is one, and simple. It is the judgment to which Benedict XVI himself has been continually calling us, in a series of talks that, re-read with an eye to the pattern that emerges, express one single need: our conversion. “Keep your gaze fixed on Christ,” always, in every circumstance, even those that open wounds in the very body of the Church. It was almost surprising to scan the news in recent days and see, next to commentaries attacking the Church, the realism of the Pope’s words to priests, who–like everyone else–are marked by trials and temptations: “Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we must always ‘abide with Him.’” The Pope not only condemned the thirst for power and the evils that assail the faith from within, but offered a perspective, a line of sight that opens out wide: “Follow Him,” because “God is waiting for our yes”–in a word, conversion. This is what is asked of us, first of all and within everything.

That is the judgment, the only true need. It concerns everyone, us first of all, as explained in the “Page One” section of this issue. The beautiful thing is that it is not a generic call. It is worked out in the particulars. You see in the instant, in the circumstance you have before you, where you look, who you look at.
Conversion is a continual newness. The discovery of Christ in the reality you have before you takes different forms, and reaches the point of clarifying the criteria with which you engage in culture and in society, or battle to defend humanity and the Church. But it also clarifies the way you look at your spouse, children, and friends–and even your vacation because this, too, is an opportunity. Every instant, from the most apparently distracted to the most intense, has within it the great opportunity: “Abide with Him.” Follow Him–which means, conversion.