Dear brothers and sisters,
We prayed and hoped. Thousands of people prayed and hoped. From the darkest moments, at the beginning of the sickness, immediately after Christmas, to more recent times, full of miraculous wonder, we prayed, “Lord, heal our Anas, if this is your will”. We asked for a miracle and, it must be said, a miracle was granted: a multitude of people gathering virtually to pray together every evening, as a sign of extraordinary affection, giving voice to the imploring faith of an entire people.
Many of us were provoked by Anas’ sickness. We knew of his service as a discrete guide for hundreds and hundreds of young people, his dedication as a priest to the youth in Grosseto, in the seminary in Rome, in Fuenlabrada, in Spain, and in Milan as a university chaplain. The multiform personality of Anas cannot be put into a specific box, so to speak, but certainly his passion was for young people. To reveal Christ to young people was the continuous longing of his life. Spiritually, Anas played the long game. He might not strike you when you first met him, but he did not leave you and wouldn ever you; throughout your life, you found him at your side, as a father, a friend, a wise counselor, a precious collaborator.
I think the primary characteristic of Anas was his meekness. He was one of the meek about whom Jesus speaks in the Gospel. Anas one of those souls which are both meek and great, that know how to bear dramatic situations and divisions, capable of tracing within hearts the beautiful paths of friendship and fidelity.
To think about the person and the life of Anas fills me with gratitude to God. In less than thirty years of priesthood, he had generated a myriad of spiritual children, who owed to him the discovery of the meaning of life, the openness to love, to poetry, to music, and to God. For all of these young people, the friendship with Anas was an awakening to consciousness and truth in front of existence. How often have all of us been accompanied by his songs, his verses, his reflections, his books! In all these things, Anas showed himself to be a true son of Fr. Giussani. Although his character was very different from that of don Gius, he had inherited the heart of the charism: Who follows me will have the hundredfold and eternal life.
For eight years, he was at my side as vice rector and then rector of the seminary of the Fraternity. Those were beautiful and tremendous years that I cannot summarize. Anas is in the hearts of all those whom he accompanied to priestly ordination. They could share stories, together with others in Grosseto, Fuenlabrada and Milan. Time will reveal the significance of all of those years.
Once again, the Fraternity of St. Charles is visited by our sister corporal death. After the passing of Maffucci and Anas, I definitely feel closer to the completion, the essential, more certain now of protection from Heaven because of the many friends who are already living there. An important part of our own selves is already in eternity.
I must thank God for having seen such great and fulfilled lives on earth. Anas, for example, wrote wonderfully, and spoke about God and Christ in a fascinating way. The furrow he traced remains as a seed of fecundity.
From him, we can learn to emulate that meek radicality with which he let his mind and heart be formed by Christ, the One whom he loved through the life of the Movement and the Fraternity of St. Charles.
And I cannot fail to mention one of the most important characteristics of his person, which is important for all of us: in his life, Anas had learned how to alleviate tensions, divisions, and arguments. He sought conciliation and unity, even at times in exaggerated ways. But he didn’t waste time; he always went to the heart of the matter.
Today, handing over the life of Anas to God, we ask this gift of the Father of every grace: to love everything that binds us to Christ and despise everything that distances us from him.
Homily at the funeral Mass for Fr. Antonio Anastasio
Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio – Milan, 11 March 2021