Monday, January 14, 2008

Coming to America

Two months before Papa Ratzi touches down in New York, one of his closest confidants is making his first high-profile appearance this weekend in the Big Apple.

At a Sunday conference hosted by NYU, the president of Communion and Liberation Fr Julian Carron will speak on the topic "Can Faith Broaden Reason?" In 2005, the 57 year-old Spaniard succeeded the iconic Msgr Luigi Giussani as head of the movement that, by Joseph Ratzinger's own admission, "changed [his] life." (Giussani and Carron are shown above in an undated photo.)

As papal legate, the then-CDF prefect presided at "Don Gius'" funeral in Milan's cathedral, and it's been said that, as it revealed a "human" side of Ratzinger, his homily (preached before a crowd of 40,000 and broadcast on Italian state television) helped pave the way for his election to the papacy seven weeks later.

Widely thought to view the CL as the "ideal" among the New Movements that've sprung up in the wake of the council, Benedict brought a community of the Memores Domini -- its branch of consecrated laity -- to the Apostolic Palace with him following his election. Led by one of the four laywomen (or, on occasion, by Carron himself), the Pope and his two priest-secretaries take part in the weekly "School of Community" held in the papal apartment. Last year's annual Rimini mega-conference of the cielini was opened by Bertone as B16's legate and, outside the senior officials of the Roman Curia, Don Julian is one of a small handful of favorites received regularly in private audience. In 2007, Benedict also named a member of the movement's community of priests, Italian Fr Paolo Pezzi, to the politically-sensitive archbishopric of Moscow -- the global post where, given his all-out push for better relations with Orthodoxy, the pontiff had most wanted his own man.

Citing the "living encounter with Christ" that stands at the core of his own theology, the Pope received a mass-group of cielini last year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the movement's formal recognition by the Holy See.

In his address to the specially-held outdoor audience, B16 offered his blessing thus:
My first thought goes to your Founder, Mons. Luigi Giussani, to whom many memories bind me and who became a true friend of mine. Our last meeting, as Mons. Carrón mentioned, took place at the Cathedral in Milan, in February about two years ago, when our beloved John Paul II sent me to preside at his solemn funeral. Through him, the Holy Spirit raised in the Church a Movement, yours, that would witness to the beauty of being Christian in an age when the opinion was spreading that Christianity is a difficult and oppressive way to live. Fr Giussani then committed himself to awaken in youth the love for Christ, "Way, Truth and Life", repeating that only he is the way towards the fulfilment of the deepest desires of the human heart, and that Christ does not save us regardless of our humanity, but through it. As I was able to recall in his funeral homily, this courageous priest, who grew up in a home poor in bread but rich in music, as he himself liked to say, from the beginning was touched, or rather wounded, by the desire for beauty, though not any sort of beauty. He sought Beauty itself, the infinite Beauty which is found in Christ. In addition, how can I fail to recall the many encounters and contacts of Fr Giussani with my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II? On an anniversary dear to you, the Pope still wants yet again to repeat that the original pedagogical intuition of Communion and Liberation lies in reproposing the Christian event within contemporary culture in a fascinating and harmonious way, perceived as a font of new values and able to orient one's entire existence.

The event that changed the life of the Founder has also "wounded" a great many of his spiritual sons and daughters, and has given way to multiple religious and ecclesial experiences which form the history of your vast and well-organized spiritual Family. Communion and Liberation is a community experience of faith, born in the Church not by the will of an organized hierarchy but originating from a renewed encounter with Christ and thus, we can say, by an impulse derived ultimately from the Holy Spirit. Still today, it offers a profound way of life and it actualizes the Christian faith, both in a total fidelity and communion with the Successor of Peter and with the Pastors who assure the governing of the Church and through spontaneity and freedom that permit new and prophetic, apostolic and missionary achievements....

In the Message to the World Congress of Ecclesial Movements, 27 May 1998, the Servant of God John Paul II had this to say: that there is no conflict or opposition in the Church between the institutional and the charismatic dimensions, of which the Movements are a significant expression. Both are co-essential to the divine constitution of the People of God. In the Church the essential institutions are also charismatic and indeed the charisms must, in one way or another, be institutionalized to have coherency and continuity.

Hence, both dimensions originate from the same Holy Spirit for the same Body of Christ, and together they concur to make present the mystery and the salvific work of Christ in the world.

This explains the attention with which the Pope and the Pastors look upon the richness of the charismatic gifts in the contemporary age. In regard to this, during a recent meeting with the clergy and the parish priests of Rome, recalling the invitation that St Paul addressed in the First Letter to the Thessalonians not to extinguish the charisms, I said that if the Lord gives us new gifts, we must be grateful, even if sometimes they may be uncomfortable. At the same time, since the Church is one, if the Movements are really gifts of the Holy Spirit, they must, naturally, be inserted into the Ecclesial Community and serve it so that, in patient dialogue with the Pastors, they can be elements in the construction of the Church of today and tomorrow.

Dear brothers and sisters, our dearly beloved John Paul II, in another very meaningful circumstance for you, was to entrust you with this mandate: "Go to all the world and bring the truth, the beauty and the peace, which is encountered in Christ the Redeemer". Fr Giussani made those words the program of the whole Movement, and for Communion and Liberation it was the beginning of a missionary season that took you to 80 countries. Today, I invite you to continue along this path, with a deep faith, personalized and solidly rooted in the living Body of Christ, the Church, which guarantees the contemporaneousness of Jesus among us. I close our meeting by turning our thoughts to the Blessed Mother with the recitation of the Angelus. Fr Giussani nourished a great devotion to her, fed by the invocation of the Veni Sancte Spiritus, veni per Mariam and by the recitation of the Hymn to the Virgin by Dante Alighieri that you have also repeated this morning. May the Holy Virgin accompany you and help you to generously pronounce your "yes" to God's will in every circumstance. Dear friends you can count on my constant remembrance in prayer, while I affectionately bless you present here and your entire spiritual Family.
Given all this, Carron's coming is a rather big deal.

* * *
Speaking of the Pope and New York, 1011 reiterates the basics of Friday's PopeTix notice, with an added bit of info for dioceses far afield:

Those living in dioceses outside of the Archdiocese of New York should submit ticket requests for the Mass at Yankee Stadium to their local Bishop, who will receive an allotment of tickets and will distribute them at his discretion. Ordinaries will receive information regarding ticket allocations during the week of Janaury 21, 2008.

SVILUPPO: In addition to the NYU event, Carron will be presiding over the National Diaconia -- the annual national gathering of CL's Stateside branch -- during his Gotham jaunt.

With Archbishop Wuerl of Washington among its participants, last year's plenary was held in San Diego.... Don Julian's talks from the '07 gathering can be found here.

Snip... on the "passion for destiny":
I am very happy to be here with you for these days. I am not saying it in a formal way because when we are together, we are together because we want to journey towards our destiny. It is a word that Don Giussani liked a great deal, the word “destiny”, because when we are together because we want to walk to our destiny, we want life to have a destiny, to have an end, a goal, and that all of us want to walk together in order to arrive at this goal where life is fulfilled. None of us wants life to be lost. Nobody wants life to fall apart in our hands. Everyone wants our lives to be great, to be full, to be happy. It is already a miracle that we are together because life interests us, because we do not want to let it go as if it were a song, or a rock tossed about in the current. Instead we want each of us to be able to take the steps necessary for life to be fulfilled. And so it is a grace to encounter people who want to walk towards destiny like we do. When there are so many people who do not care about destiny, the fact that the Lord has awakened this desire, this love for destiny, in our lives is what unites us. None of us has selected himself to be here. Each one of us has been awakened to this interest toward his destiny in a mysterious way. If each of us was to look at the face of the person that we have next to us, we could not avoid being moved at thinking that he wants to walk to the same place that I do, that he has been touched just like I have been touched by this passion for destiny, that in him this passion for destiny has been awakened. We haven’t chosen ourselves; it is not us who choose our traveling companions. We mysteriously find ourselves together. We find that someone else has awakened the interest in our life in us; because interest in destiny is nothing other than interest in life, passion for life, tenderness for ourselves. When we see so many people that do not even have an instant of this tenderness toward themselves, the fact that this tenderness has been awakened in us is truly moving. Because this does happen, and the surprising thing about it is that it happens in the midst of the confusion in which each of us lives. It is as if all the confusion that surrounds us cannot avoid the fact that this passion for life has been awakened in us. I describe it often in the following way: any person who has born in any of our cities of today and who wishes to clarify the meaning of life for himself, who desires that his life not be lost, and wants to know how to live life so that life not be lost and not vanish into thin air, if he were to go to any newsstand, any bookstore, any supermarket, he would be so confused and perplexed in front of so many things that he would not know where to go in order to clarify things. Or if that person were to watch TV for 24 hours straight, what would he learn in order to live? Despite all this and despite the fact that each one of us lives in this context, no confusion has been able to hinder the fact that we are here with all our love for destiny. And this is the first thing that should already start to surprise us. Do not take it for granted, because this indicates to us, something greater than all the confusion; none of the confusion there is can hinder it or eliminate it. It is more resistant than all of the confusion. We can sum it up with the word we are using so often lately: “heart”. We find ourselves with this desire, this need to live, this need for happiness and beauty.