Traces N.7, July/August 2011

The Opportunity

Who knows if we will be available to face the challenge, to avoid filing the words that we so often hear at the beginning of summer under "already heard speeches"–clean, correct, and to be quoted by heart but, still, just words. Father Giussani always reminded us that summer "is the time of freedom." Recently, Julián Carrón pointed out that Fr. Giussani was insistent about this because of "a particular esteem for free time," because vacation is when one "discovers what one really wants, by looking at that to which one gives space and time."
What is this time for? What can these circumstances–which, on the surface, might seem less challenging, more simple, and completely at our freedom's disposal–give us? Carrón himself said to a group of university students (see Page One article of this issue): "The verification of faith does not happen just in elections or in preparing for an exam. It is above all in our free time that what we hold dearest emerges. Therefore, this period of vacation will be a stupendous opportunity for us." In other words, even vacation time is a test–and a powerful one. We can take our time looking at ourselves in action, and we can assess where we are, what moves us, and what really attracts us.

If we think about it, though, there is another factor that makes this opportunity so relevant. It is a paradox because, at first glance, it is an absence. We don't live according to the usual, habitual modality. Some of our friends are far away. Some of the common gestures we participate in (our meetings, charitable work, and assemblies) become less frequent, or get concentrated into a few periods. In other words, we are more alone in the face of the challenge of this verification, which therefore can become an opportunity to show more clearly the true urgency of what we are facing–that is, the need for a personal journey, the only indispensable journey to make this experience our own, that is, real. At that same meeting with university students, Carrón also said: "Each of us needs this experience personally; we cannot live just on the experience of another, because I'm the one who has to take the Latin exam; I'm the one who has to stand in front of my girlfriend, not someone else; we're not all together. I'm the one who is there before the drama of living." And I am the one who needs certainties, who needs to walk on this journey.

Our wish is that, at the end of summer, we will meet again on the road, more certain and more curious about grasping the features of this certainty. Comparing what we live with the stories and the witnesses that you will find in this issue (the children in Kampala, and those in Rochester, as well as people at the MGH in Boston, and the letters, for examples). Or maybe exploring the conferences and the exhibits at the Rimini Meeting, which will open on August 21st, and will focus precisely on this challenge, a challenge that is extremely personal, as we mentioned, and at the same time historical, because one can't but notice that it is precisely the lack of certainties that makes today's man and world so confused and skeptical. Be relevant at that level, make the "I" certain, and you will help the world.