Traces N.8, September 2005

Fascinated by Christ

The 26th edition of the Meeting of Rimini was a success: participants numbering well beyond expectations, presentations of the highest quality, cutting-edge cultural and social debates, considerable media attention, and, above all, myriad encounters, relationships just beginning, or friendships strengthened, among people of every kind: Afghan and Iraqi ministers, journalists and bishops, figures of the left-wing who love freedom, scholars of Islam, government ministers and the government opposition, poets and bankers. A success. But, what happened there, among the pavilions of the Convention Center in this colorful seaside city?

The title of the Meeting, launching a provocation on the theme of freedom, indicated that the meaning of the important words of the human experience merits perennial re-acquisition. The nature of the Meeting proposes a method for such a rediscovery: a companionship guided toward destiny and the open dialogue of comparison with everything that concerns life. In the days immediately following, speaking with 800 responsibles of Communion and Liberation from more than 70 countries, Fr. Carrón said, “Jesus Christ founded a Church, not a university.” The Meeting and the life that expresses itself in it, in innumerable ways and according to thousands of talents, are not the result of an academic inquiry. An assembly of intellectuals wasn’t what gave life and substance to the gathering in Rimini. At its origin, there is the experience of a man–Fr. Giussani–committed to discovering the meaning of his own existence, and thus to verifying the extraordinary proposal encountered with Christ. Giussani was a man for whom the words of Benedict XVI in Cologne were real“Let yourselves be fascinated by Christ!” and whose “fever for life” brought forth a people whose members engaged their own freedom in their friendship with him and now, unworthily but gladly, carry on his legacy.

The Meeting expressed a “strange” faith in man. Today’s world seems overwhelmed by reasons for saying that, deep down, life is a useless chaos; that there is nothing to be certain about, nothing with which one can be familiar. Thus, words like freedom, justice, beauty, and truth seem condemned to indicate something vague and unattainable, and all of existence seems, in the words of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Instead, in the personal experience lived in a people, it is possible to comprehend the vastness and the greatness of human life, and to face reality according to the dramatic breadth of its unfolding and the depth of its mystery.

Christianity proposes itself as the realization of the adventure of life. Faith is not a matter of soothing one’s anxieties or choosing a God to whom you can lift up prayers, or fists of rage. Rather, it is the heart’s renewal every morning, and openness to the real. At the La Thuile gathering of Movement responsibles, it was said that speaking as a friend or loved one, saying “You” to the secret of all things, opening one’s heart, ready and available to existence, all seems impossible. But this is the experience shown by many, many examples of Christian life throughout the world, and in all kinds of circumstances. The “success” of the Meeting was not so much in its positive outcome, extraordinary though it may have been in a panorama dominated by controversy, deadening dailiness, or empty diatribe. Rather, it was in the fact of being a visible, emerging point of a reality that has become a people and a history, truly useful to the human companionship.