Traces N.9, October 2017

A Radical Difference

This month, you could read the entire message of Traces in just one sidebar. You can find it on page 14 with the story of Catalonia preparing to face the post-referendum chaos. The vote took place before this issue went to press, but we don’t know what direction things will have taken by the time you read this magazine; there is no question that the situation is serious and tenuous. The words of the sidebar, and the article it accompanies, contain something precious. It’s the story of a group of students who participated in an assembly just hours before October 1st, and of a girl who found herself again accepted and embraced at the heart of who she is, beyond any differences of background, worldview, or political position. It’s the story of a friendship that stubbornly contradicts the tides of the general climate, awash in bitter resentment.

It was a fact. A tiny one, one that at first glance is absolutely insignificant amidst the tempest that has enveloped Spain and, with it, all of Europe, where the push toward “everyone against everyone” is ever more apparent. But it’s decisive, because it indicates a road to follow. It carries within it a seed from which everything can blossom or be reborn involving people who are alive. Young people who ask each other questions, take an interest in what’s happening around them, enter into relationships with adults to be able to face their problems, their wounds, and their desires, who help and correct each other. And who, because of this, aren’t ensnared in the framework of opposition, of “what side are you on?”

People who are alive, and facts–things that happen in places and in ways you’d never expect, because the current is pulling in the opposite direction. You’ll find these people and facts at the root of the “Close Up” section dedicated, once again, to the topic of work–though we focused on it at length just a few months ago–because it’s a real crisis. And also in other places in this issue of Traces. These people who are alive don’t offer formulas or solutions to the problems of work, of sickness, or of the burdens of daily life. But they do point us toward a radical difference, simply because certain facts happen. These people show that within those burdens, something other is present. Not beyond reality, but within it.

What is this “something other?” What is its nature and its origin? Where do facts and people like this come from? We have to answer these questions if we don’t want to lose sight of that new and different outlook we have seen opening up, that joy we have seen unfold where it seemed impossible.

At its core, this is the theme of Page One this month, the notes from the CL Beginning Day. It’s a help for us to look back on our history, including our personal histories, as well as the arc of events happening now. We need to compare this history with our desires, our aspirations, our hearts, and with what we see happening around us. Because we need to know, now more than ever, the truth of the promise that Christ brought into the world that Julián Carrón, quoting Fr. Giussani, summarized by saying, “It is in the relationship with Him that we can experience the hundredfold: ‘One hundred times the humanity that you have inside will blossom, will blossom one hundred times more than in others, and nothing will make you fall apart, nothing will perturb you to the point of frightening you, you will fear nothing,’ while instead, everything falls apart and upsets us as soon as we separate ourselves from Him.”