The Presence in History

Notes from two talks at the Retreat of the Novices of Memores Domini, La Thuile, Italy, August 9-10, 2003.
Luigi Giussani

Forgive me, but I wanted to leave you with a thought. At the end of days like these, the heart’s willingness is sufficient for everybody. The lines that I like best of all those that the Middle Ages has produced and monastic life has exalted are these:

Oh Jesu mi dulcissime,
spes suspirantis animae,
Te quaerunt piae lacrimae
Et clamor mentis intimae.

O Jesus, my sweet Lord, my companion! In whatever position we are–this has been said in every way possible by our two “commanders-in-chief”–whatever position we start from, the feeling that invades us is this, and there is nothing that we can say more truly, in whatever condition we find ourselves, than this. Oh Jesu mi dulcissime, the hope of a soul that sighs, is a word from Dante in our memories from when the Italian schools still reflected the values of the past: spes suspirantis animae.
Jesus, You are sweet in my life; sweetness characterizes Your presence, because You are the content of hope. You are my hope! And hope is the continual shaping of the original nature of our being, and that is to be expectation, to be entreaty, because entreaty is identical in form to expectation.
Spes suspirantis animae, Te quaerunt piae lacrimae: The anguish, pain, dissatisfaction seek You, in the unhealthy sinews our life takes on.
Te quaerunt piae lacrimae: My tears seek You in their original state–piae, in their original state.
Et clamor mentis intimae: It is the cry, it is the inner cry of my being, of being. And being is an inner cry; it is a cry, it is a total–more than inner–cry, a total cry, a total clamor: Et clamor mentis intimae.
Therefore, everything is sad and everything is good, since hope is a positive affirmation at all costs, at all costs positive for our being.
I wish for you that you may be able to touch these things with your own hands, not in trepidation but young, childlike, infant-like, like newborns, because in every instant we are just born.
All the best! May you be my companions on the journey, just as you have shown yourselves to be for Pino and Carrón.
All the best, so that we may sustain each other.
Thank you!
I believe that the answer to this investigation on “what work is for us, what work represents”–this will be precisely the “work,” in its most evocative aspect, of our whole life. Work becomes the search for the answer to this question.

The word that was used earlier, I believe by Fr Pino, “density,” the word density becomes like the content of the gaze that we bring to bear on things as we travel along and the road disappears into the horizon. But it does not disappear, because it remains. Everything remains, everything stays, and we feel like we are sinking, with an ever more sensationally clear suggestiveness, into the heart of things, because of a density of thought, of welcoming, of feeling, of affection, which no one who has not had this encounter and this companionship will ever be capable of having.

I tell you, I ask you always to start from the presence of Our Lady, this supreme presence in the history of the universe. Imagine Our Lady’s days, Mary’s days with that Mystery, which she feels, perceives, acknowledges, embraces with all her being, inside her. In the passing time, the endless multiplication of the horizon implied in it, what this must have represented for Our Lady! Not only when she thought about it, but always, because for a mother, holding her child, carrying her child, is like loving the presence of everything–it is loving the Presence! So that truly–we have to discover this, help each other discover this–truly it is a love otherwise totally unknown to others, a love because of which everyone else is made just as we are made, a boundless love, like the Father’s attitude toward His Son Jesus.

Let us have the patience of time, not an irritated or scandalized impatience because words do not immediately give, do not immediately express their meaning or, as has been said and quoted, they do not leave us in love with the Infinite. Time as it passes time will make us fall in love with the Infinite, in every finite thing that comes our way!

We have to ask Our Lady for the grace to be a part of her motherhood, because this is what we were made for, and this is the discovery that maybe we have made when we have come together during this year–the discovery that life is given to us, is recalled to us. Life is given to us so that we might be reminded of this great fact: a baby just conceived lies in his mother’s heart. What domination! Something that dominates in a not-proper sense is what makes us forget the rest. If something is thought in the not-proper sense of the word “think,” we lose sight of everything, it does not raise us up as a haven for everybody, all the light, all the movements of the world, of the life of men.
Let’s be patient, let’s help each other! This is why we said to you, “Write” [see the “Letter to the Fraternity” in Traces, July-August 2003, Vol 5 No 7, page 1]. Don’t be unfair with us when you do not receive an answer, at least not as soon as you would like, but let us help each other so that every question we ask, every question you ask will be for me the opportunity for a shining answer.
Everything is temporary, like a step on a journey. Every step of a journey is transitory, but without every step of a given journey, the destiny of that journey is no longer perceived.

I thank you in advance for all the familiarity you will grant me in the consideration of what has become for me the pressure of life, has become very sweet to me: Oh Jesu mi dulcissime, oh my sweet Jesus, friend, brother, companion, it is with You that I shall try to drag all the men I meet, to sweep all of them along with You Lord, so that nothingness will have nothing of us to possess. Thank you!