Sunday, February 22, 2015

An Encounter, A Love Story, An Event

I am remembering once again with gratitude the Servant of God Luigi Giussani on the tenth anniversary of his death. It's hard to believe that it's been ten years already.

Fr. Giussani passed away on the Feast of the Chair of Peter, 2005.

Thus begins the commemoration within the next few months of a momentous series of events that took place a decade ago.

A little more than a month after Fr. Giussani's death, on April 2, 2005, his friend John Paul II joined him in the Father's house.

In fact, John Paul II had been too ill to preside at Fr. Giussani's funeral, and so he sent his most trusted collaborator, Cardinal Ratzinger, as his personal representative. On February 24, Ratzinger celebrated the funeral mass at Milan Cathedral and preached in front of thousands of people at the church and in the square, and countless others who were watching the funeral on Italian national television.

Many heard for the first time the simplicity and the depth of the preaching of the man who was about to become Pope Benedict XVI.

Here are a few of his words on that occasion.

Only Christ gives meaning to the whole of our life. Fr Giussani always kept the eyes of his life and of his heart fixed on Christ. In this way, he understood that Christianity is not an intellectual system, a packet of dogmas, a moralism, Christianity is rather an encounter, a love story; it is an event. [my emphasis]
This love affair with Christ, this love story which is the whole of his life was however far from every superficial enthusiasm, from every vague romanticism. Really seeing Christ, he knew that to encounter Christ means to follow Christ. This encounter is a road, a journey, a journey that passes also... through the “valley of darkness.”
In the Gospel, we heard of the last darkness of Christ’s suffering, of the apparent absence of God, when the world’s Sun was eclipsed. He knew that to follow is to pass through a “valley of darkness,” to take the way of the cross, and to live all the same in true joy.