Last May, we participated in a “neighborhood mission.” It was an initiative started in a parish in the outskirts of Rome where Fr. Fillipo Pellini has been serving for almost a year. For the occasion of the consecration of the new church, they decided to extend personal invitations to the residents of the neighborhood. Together with a group of parishioners and nuns, we seminarians also decided to participate in the initiative. We divided up in small groups and we began to go door to door around the entire neighborhood. One crucial element was that we did not go alone, because of our desire to announce the beauty of communion. Most of the time, we were welcomed, mainly by people of faith who invited us to enter into their apartments: they made us feel at home, as if we had been friends forever. It is an experience that I already know, thanks to the movement of Communion and Liberation. It is the same situation that happens every time that you are hosted by people in the community in another city or abroad, the same “homey atmosphere” that you feel among brothers in the faith. But many of the dialogues that I had with people who have been away from the church for years struck me much more. I had very deep conversations with many of them. Kids, young couples going through a rough patch, old people: as soon as they recognized us as people of the Church, they wanted to tell us about themselves, to talk about their difficulties, some which remain unresolved for years now. We had the distinct perception that, in a certain sense, they were expecting us, as if they were waiting at the window for a long time. It was a judgment that we all shared: in many instances, all that man expects is that the Lord be announced to him.
We had the distinct perception that, in a certain sense, they were expecting us, as if they were waiting at the window for a long time.
We also had many refusals. I was struck most by the indifference of those who turned us away: no rancor or prejudice, but a slight annoyance, like when you hang up on a telemarketer offering the latest promotion. Reflecting on this experience in the last couple of days, I have thought about the dramatic indifference that man shows towards God and His patient suffering: I had never considered with regret that Our Lord is used to being continually rejected. After the hundreth rejection, I had a moment of indignation. With a burst of anger, I thought: “If only you knew that you were closing the door on the Lord.” But then I said to myself, “And am I any better? Who knows how many times my indifference has pushed Him aside?”
In the photo, the entrance procession at the consecration of the Church of the Holy Martyrs Mario, Marta and Sons, in Valle Santa, Rome.