Traces N.8, September 2017

Sharpen Your Sight

There was a moment in this year’s Meeting of Rimini that gave form to everything, and thanks be to God, it came right away, at the beginning. It was the message from Pope Francis, sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, who also gave a talk on the last day of the Meeting. You will find the full text further on in this issue. There is a simple reason for the power of this message. Not only is it the key for understanding the days in Rimini, but it also indicates an ever-valid method, a compass to check constantly, in order to avoid “the disease that can strike the baptized” at any moment: “spiritual Alzheimer’s,” the forgetfulness of our personal relationship with God.

This is the source of the existential fear and uncertainty that often knock the breath out of us and cut our legs out from under us. “If we become ‘forgetful’ of our encounter with the Lord, we are no longer sure of anything.” Salvation passes through “one road: actualize the beginnings, the ‘first Love,’ which is not a discourse or abstract thought, but a Person.” It is necessary to “return to [...] that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me.”

It is not a matter of memories, a dive into a past that must be regained, but something present, now, “blazing,” like a fire that burns, living, like the Love for a Person who is here. Deep down, this love is the true contribution we Christians can give the world.

At the Meeting we saw very well this hand-to-hand struggle between the past and present, between the risk of transforming our patrimony into ashes and the chance to live it now. It was seen in the key moments (the talk by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the words of Parolin, and many other encounters), in many places (just think of the exhibits), but also in the way certain themes were faced (work, geopolitics, science) that only at first glance were more “marginal” than the Pope’s words.

However, there was another invitation in that message, an explicit one to those who experienced the Meeting: “to sharpen your sight in order to catch the many more or less explicit signs of the need for God as the ultimate meaning of existence, so that you can offer people a living response to the great questions of the human heart.”

This issue of Traces you hold in your hands tries to do this, by setting forth some of the many things that happened in the days in Rimini, to which the Close-Up is dedicated, and also by recounting events like the recent International Assembly of CL Leaders in Corvara, and like the story of Paul Mariani, an American poet and critic, struck by the encounter with a reality like CL, and in many other big and small happenings that you will find in these pages. Enjoy your reading, and your search.