Traces N.9, October 2019

The journey to truth

Why is this issue of Traces titled “Come and See”? It refers to an invitation to those who may have found this magazine in their hands for the first time, having received it from a colleague, a friend, or a person they met on the street. It is also the heart of Christianity, which, despite what we may sometimes think, is not a set of ideas, rules, or values. It is first and foremost a life involving events and people. It is about something that happens that, when we notice it, surprises us with its beauty. It awakens a curiosity and calls us to take steps to discover the origin of a newness that is so unforeseen yet so correspondent to our humanity. In that “come and see” spoken by Philip to the skeptical Nathanael–similar to the words “follow me” contained in the Gospel–lies the full power of the only road that can overcome skepticism, both today and 2,000 years ago: experience. This road says to us, “See for yourself, you be the judge. Verify whether this newness that aroused your curiosity is interesting for your life, whether it makes it more intense and more true. See whether it can wholly embrace your longing for meaning and for happiness.”

It moves us to think of the road God has chosen for us to know and love Him. It moves us because the road of our experience is the only way possible for us, the only truly human road. This road defies even our attempts to reduce its significance based on the fact that the word “experience,” while so immediate, is also so often misunderstood. We are all ready to agree that, as Fr. Giussani said, “the journey to truth is an experience.” We can only grow and learn through encounters, events, and things we are told about or happen to us. Anything else seems abstract. Yet – and here is the root of the misunderstanding – “gaining experience” is much more than accumulating things you have done. It requires that you realize the nature of the things that happen to you. And the more unexpectedly extraordinary they are, the more a step of awareness is needed so that they do not slip away, buried by a simplistic sentimental reaction (“how beautiful!”). A fascinating event does not by itself cause us to grow. (The Gospel is full of miracles that do not change anyone.) Recognizing what one is really seeing and the One who is offering it as an opportunity for us: that can change us.

Christ bets everything on this. He does not appeal to rules; he imposes nothing. He submits to the test of our experience, to that simple faithfulness with which we, when struck by a people who lives in a fascinating way, follow through with the questions that emerge: “What is it about them? Who are they?” You will find a related question–“Who is this man?”–presented on the website It is the title of the text from the CL Beginning Day, a proposal of a journey to walk together based on experience. Our hope is that curiosity may be opened wider and wider in those who will read the many stories on the following pages, so that they will never stop growing.