I am writing from the United States, where I have passed almost a month. I came to visit the houses of our priests, to spend time with them and to see their life and their work. I found them joyful and very involved, dedicating themselves to the good of those who have been entrusted to them. In their faces, so dear to me, I was able to admire anew the greatness of a life given in response to Christ, the beauty of a vocation that leads us to serve the Church amidst this generous people.
From the first days here I have found myself running up against a difficult social context. Beginning from childhood, individualism and competition are largely proposed as positive values to the people here. I listened to many stories of men and women who have been weakened by this mutual estrangement, and who often have been violated in the most intimate and sacred space of their person, their desire to be loved. Even the announcement of Christ is subtly opposed and many are the Christians conformed to the mentality of the world. I touched with my hand the wounds of a land in which confusion and deceit have been scattered and taken root far and wide. Shortly after the presidential election in November, I was in Boston. As in other zones of this immense country, in Massachusetts, the new theories of freedom and gender have become real and true militancy. “We have arrived to the point in which we can’t bring our children to the public library”, an old high school teacher told me, speaking about his nephews. “There, they would find professionals ready to manipulate and confuse them. They are very organized.” Alone and forced by a continual propaganda to deny reality and to lie about good and evil, the people are always more fragile and insecure. Blocking the truest impulses of the single person, the ideology introduces and diffuses a state of alienation in the society, which weighs down the spirit and removes the taste of living. I perceived in many the fear to reveal openly what they think, a fear of being invasive and intolerant.
In this situation, I believe that Christians may soon be asked great sacrifices.
In the heart of this land is also our presence, together with who knows how many other hidden points where God is building without clamor, small signs that the world does not recognize. This is the surprise: a parish or a community of the movement, a group of families forming a fraternity, a house of priests or sisters, a group of high school students, exerting a strong attraction on those they meet. In these small companionships it is possible to be reborn. One is able to find a place of peace in a world that does not know rest, and to discover that the faith lived recreates relationships and makes them sincere. The recurrence of this miracle surprised me again and again. The experience of communion has the power to redirect to the good, also those who are most worn out or wounded by rebelling from God. Slowly people begin again to hope and love, to live in the truth and even to be joyful.
The strongest image that I have is that of a river, rich with water, that springs from the communion of our houses, from the love that is lived in the Christian families, nourished by the sacraments that we celebrate and receive. It is a water that renovates all that it touches: other houses, other families, other lives, a spring that sanctifies our existence, strengthening that which is healthy and invigorating that which has suffered and been made feeble. “We are fortunate, Father,” I heard repeated continuously. Many gave thanks simply for our existing and being here, next to them. In the eyes of this people I saw again the power and holiness of the work of God. He reveals his humble strength through the changed hearts, through lives healed of solitude and desperation, through a rediscovered gratitude. More than anything else I was struck by the youth. I saw their fresh hearts being opened to a demanding proposal, because they feel that the Christian life is beautiful and joyful. In the end, Christ is victorious over all the conditions to which they are exposed, victorious over their uncertainty and fear. The clear words of a young girl that I met remained imprinted within me: “I feel the nostalgia for Christ, for a concrete relationship with him, growing in me, always stronger. Amongst my classmates in university there are not many who I can speak about these things, but there are a few. And for this reason, I love my real friends so much.”
foto Thomas Hawk – flickr.com