“This Day of Our Easter Rejoicing Our Innocence He Will Renew”

The audience with Pope Francis on October 15 was a new beginning and I would like to share my experience with you.

I was sitting on the sagrato of St. Peter’s square and from that vantage point I looked at the square and at the immense crowd of people. It was a huge turnout, filling all of the corners of the square. When the Pope said: “Your movement does not lose its capacity to bring [people] together and to mobilize” I felt powerfully grateful to Fr. Giussani and our people who responded to the invitation of the Pope. We are still a people! The Movement is alive and is a life. I was reminded of how Fr. Giussani said he never thought of founding anything; instead he witnessed the birth of a people. That crowd in the square was that people.

For our School of Community work on the Pope’s words and as we move on to other texts, I want to insist on a focus on experience. Experience is not something that you gain through a deep penetrating analytical process. It is the position of the human heart; it is our simplicity, our capacity to become like a child. The method of experience is the way the child faces reality – it is not a conquest, it is a simplicity of heart. This is the same position of Christ when he came into the world. He was not a Pharisee, he did not get credentials, he did not pre-qualify himself with the authority. Rather, he engaged and he counted on the human heart to be the point of traction upon which he would save the world. The method of experience is the method of beauty. Beauty is the way experience draws.

There was an appeal to us in those two hours spent in St Peter’s square. An appeal to me as a person that is very adequately described by the word “beauty” – that is, the voice of the heart that says that there is Something that grasps and responds to my humanity, that I need not be dominated by fear. We all walk along with this humanity that has this desire, that has this curiosity and desire. The way of the Lord is simple as was the way of John and Andrew and Simon and Philip who began to follow Christ out of this curiosity and desire awakened by a foretaste of the Truth.

For me, the work of the School of Community is that I, as a human being, always live with this desire for beauty. And, in this work, a company comes to join me. This is what the text of the School of Community is – not a Bible, not a law. It is a witness of a great friend who says “I know you want beauty, I know you want for everything you do to be for you.” The work we have to learn again and again is to receive Fr. Giussani’s words in this sense, because to compare to our experience is not an abstract proposal, it is to accept the words of Fr Giussani for what they are: the words as a witness who says to us “look here, look there, consider this” and so helps us to know reality more. This is what creates an “I”. There is no people without an “I”. Community is only rich inasmuch as it is the communion of the “I’s” of the persons who belong to it. This is what the work of School of Community is for: to generate the “I”.

The health of the Movement is first and foremost in the “I’s”, in the support and accompaniment of the “I”, so that the “I” can be free and can grow and engage with reality as a free person. Following October 15 we are alive and I can personally attest to the new freedom in me. I am connected to my own experience in a way that is much more simple. The life of the Movement has no other purpose than to help us to live fully. “I came so that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

The ultimate work after October 15 is this: “Go! Live! Be yourself!” This is what I take as the core of the Pope’s message. The Pope invites us to work with him in service of the life of the Church. Our hearts are alive with the desire to live the charism and to recommit to this life.

Fr. Michael Carvill