Last year in Taipei, at the University of Fu Jen, there was the official presentation of the Chinese translation of the Religious Sense. On that occasion, our community set up an exhibit, organized a roundtable with different speakers and programmed two workshops on charitable work and on teaching. After a little while, our university proposed to us to guide an in-depth reading of this book of Fr. Giussani with some Catholic professors who were interested. And just like that, on Tuesday every two weeks, during our lunch break, we began to work with them.
During the first week I introduced the content of the book going through the index and introducing the figure of don Giussani. During the successive meetings, we spoke of the first and second chapters. One of the professors that participate in the meetings is the boss of the service of religious consultation that the university offers. She is, perhaps, the person who has taken these moments most seriously: you can see this from the comments she makes, from her questions and from the fact that she is prepared every time she comes. Something she said during our first meeting struck me: “I was convinced that, in order to speak on a certain argument, one must first collect all that had been said on that argument by illustrious thinkers, summarize all of their thought and then draw my own conclusions. But this book tells me the opposite. In order to make a judgment about a particular human experience, love or destiny, first of all, I must question myself. Only after this, I will be able to see what the others have said about the same experience without becoming alienated.” She hit the mark right away.
During the weeks between the second and third appointment, while I was on a trip with some parishioners, I witnessed a curious fact: three kids were playing with the water of a fountain and one of them, the smallest, all of a sudden slipped, drenching herself and her clothes. Naturally, she burst into tears. The adults arrived and, instead of yelling at her, like our elders would have done when we were little, they consoled her until she stopped crying.
A little bit later, I saw that the three children had begun to play the same game. I call the older ones: “Haven’t you learned anything from your experience?” They stared up at me, perplexed. And so I asked them, “What is experience?” And I was shocked to hear one of them respond, “Experience is something that happened in the past.” “Yes! And what just happened? Playing near the fountain your little sister slipped. In order to avoid it happening again, experience should teach us to not play near the water, right?” The children nodded and went away. A little bit later, I saw them beginning to play yet again, but this time under the attentive watch of their mother.
At the third meeting on the Religious Sense, I brought this example to my colleagues to show how what don Giussani says has to do with life and with the way we deal with things: in order to not be like children who do not treasure their experience, we need to be continually recalled by someone older than us and to be sustained by a companionship that helps us up when we fall, that calls us back to the truth.
Recently there has been much discussion about a law that, by changing the definition of marriage, would concretely open the possibility for homosexuals to get married. There are many Taiwanese contrary to the hypothesis that one can change the definition of the family, but there are many others who think by now of marriage between persons of the same sex as a right, which they hope will soon be respected. How can we get across to our students and our young people, who are so steeped in this mentality based on the right to auto-determination? The original evidences, those that do not need to be demonstrated – the love of a mother for her child is a good thing, killing an innocent is a bad thing – seem to be crumbling. That many no longer hear the voice of the heart is a sign of the gravity of the times we are living in.
This is why we are here: to help those we meet regain a correct use of their reason, to indicate the heart as the root of their and our humanity, all the while ready to embrace those who fall. Everything can be of use, even a simple course in a university in Taipei.
In the image, the church of Our Lady of Wu Fong Ci, in Taiwan.