Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Mystery of Holy Saturday: Luigi Giussani and Pope Francis

The "Meditation of the Day" in Magnificat for Holy Saturday is from Luigi Giussani, the founder of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation. I am sure that it was chosen before the election of Pope Francis but, given Francis association with the movement, its choice seems fortuitous.

I have not been able to read fully the text of the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires when he presented the Spanish edition of Luigi Giussani's book The Religious Sense, the book that offers the first insights into the charism and method of Communion and Liberation; but the quick read that I did have suggests that Jorge Bergoglio has been profoundly influenced by that charism and method. The text published in the magazine Traces can be downloaded from here: The Gratitude of Buenos Aires. Indeed, I am currently speculating that Pope Francis' anxiety for a Church that moves out to the peripheries, to the margins, can be traced at least in part to the methodology of verification of the Christian claim in the existential experience of human life that belongs to Communion and Liberation. One might also find there the wish for a community life that lies behind Pope Francis arrangement of living in the Casa Santa Marta rather than the Apostolic Palace. Is the key to understanding some of Pope Francis' more challenging (and, in the view of some, self-centred) actions since his election to see him as trying to live something of this charism as Successor of Peter in the same way that he tried to live it as Archbishop of Buenos Aires?

The meditation in Magnificat is extracted from notes written to accompany a CD of Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral work, and comments particularly on his Russian Easter Festival overture. Luigi Giussani's full Italian text can be found on Google books here - but you might need to scroll down a bit to find it among other contributions. The more familiar you are with the ethos and history of Communion and Liberation and other ecclesial movements, the less obscure the language of the meditation is!
If we stifle the Mystery as a dimension of our relationship with people and things, all reality become like a game: it falls to pieces - looks and hands split it into parts that have no connection with each other ...

The alternative in life is between the response to the Mystery which we are called to give, and living according to a rule of "whatever I like". The task that has been give to us is for us and, as an example, for the world; this task is for the world. Christ, alone, died to call the world back to the fact of the Father; thus, no matter how few we are, we are called to this task to call the world back. There is no middle ground between the task and "whatever I please".

During the night of Holy Saturday, the fact occurred that saves human existence from the confused tremble to which it could seem destined and lifts it up towards a festive task ...

Reality is already in the hands of the one who conquered it, who won it back to himself. All of reality is his creation, to the point that the meaning of all of reality is his person. In him everything consists. To us falls the task to show it to everyone, to declare it, because it is something that is....

Everything is ordered towards a purpose, a beauty, so in our lives what gives meaning and purpose to everything, what recreates harmony, has entered in.

It is a companionship that, above all, opens up this perspective. It is a companionship for the world, a companionship that opens up, adopting the same perspectives as Christ's, that is to say, the redemption of the world, the salvation of the world, to shout the truth to the world, to shout the happiness the world is waiting for, to shout what the world is made of and to shout the world's destiny ... that little by little invades and determines everything.
If one has been attentive to the words and actions of Pope Francis during the first days of his mission as Successor of Peter one cannot read this meditation (taken from a radically different kind of context) without finding in it echoes of what has been offered by Pope Francis as a teaching for the Church and for the world.

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