Thursday, June 23, 2011

For too many "the reasons complicate"

In the recently concluded Spiritual Exercises of The Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, "Whoever Is in Christ Is a New Creation," Fr. Julían Carrón spoke not just about the relationship between faith and reason, but both about the necessity of this relationship and about how averse we often are to the necessity of this relationship for our own lives. This is true even within the Movement itself, as we make our way this year through Giussani's The Religious Sense. Carrón says that he is today hearing the question that Don Gius heard back in his days at Berchet High School, which Gius described in his book “Tu” (o dell’amicizia) ("You" (or, On friendship)), where he observed that "people no longer perceive the correspondence between the Christian proposal in its originality, the Christian event, and everyday life." Trying mightily to help them understand, they object, saying, "you’re so complicated!"

Reflecting back on his days at Berchet, referring to the School of Community he would dictate and that his students would write down, he remembers a young man who would visit with another priest and show this priest his notes from School of Community. "This priest," Giussani remembered, "stirred him up against what he read in the notes from my lessons, and told him, ‘See, this complicates, while, instead, religion is simple.’ In other words, ‘the reasons complicate.’" How many still say the same thing, he asks, namely that "the search for the reasons complicates"? On the contrary, Giussani insisted, the search for reasons illuminates! This rejection of the search for reasons, Giussani continues, "is the reason Christ is no longer an authority, but a sentimental object, and God is a boogeyman and not a friend.”

Picking up on these and few other observations of Fr. Giussani, Carrón insists that "[a] Christianity incapable of moving the person, of kindling the human, has caused disinterest in Christianity itself, making it become irrelevant. In many cases, it was not a rebellion against the Christian proposal; in most cases, Christianity simply lost its interest, became irrelevant. This shows that the awakening of the 'I' that is the religious sense is not just a useful step leading to faith: it is decisive in every moment. It is the true verification of faith. Do we think that we will act differently from the others without this verification? Or will we end up like everyone else? Won’t we, too, end up disinterested in the Christian proposal if we do not travel the road Fr. Giussani proposes to us?

"In a concise line, Giussani summarizes the challenge we have before us: 'I came to believe deeply that only a faith arising from life experience and confirmed by it (and, therefore, relevant to life’s needs could be sufficiently strong to survive in a world where everything pointed in the opposite direction….' Here is the decisive point: the need to focus on an experience that can hold up. For this reason, in the passage I have just quoted, Fr. Giussani offers us a triple key for understanding whether we are on the right road: that faith is a present experience (not the story of facts you subsequently stick something on to), a judged experience, not a repetition of formulas or sentences or comments; that faith find confirmation of its usefulness for life in present experience, in experience itself (otherwise we will always need a supplement of certainty 'from outside'); and that faith is able to hold up in a world where everything says the opposite."

I readily admit that reasons can complicate, but the only possible simplification is verification through experience, not shunning complexity (as if that were even possible), what Carrón calls "a judged experience, not a repetition of formulas." Any method that does not take for its starting point your own experience, in addition to likely having little or nothing to do with reality, will lead to disappointment and ultimately to disinterest. Your life is your unique path to destiny. Or, as Morrissey urged us longer ago now than I would care to remember: "Burn down the disco/Hang the blessed DJ/Because the music that they constantly play IT SAYS NOTHING TO ME ABOUT MY LIFE." While in the end it is not all about me, it's not like it has nothing to do with me from start to finish. While we are to die to ourselves for the Lord's sake in the service of others, Christianity, unlike the Eastern religions, is not about the annihilation of the self, but becoming who you are, who God made created, redeemed, and sanctifies you to be.

Another way of stating the matter is that if honestly searching for reasons does not illuminate, then how can the truth liberate you?


  1. I do not get here often enough, I just don't. However, when I do, I am rewarded with such a rich feast. Thank you Scott. I can't comment on every word and post that I have read, but I can tell you that this is one remarkable place, you are one remarkable man. God bless you.

  2. Having read Balthasar's comments on Catholic Action (and having grown up in a movement inspired by Catholic Action), I suspect that the simplicity recommended by Manzu's son's priest took a similar form.... that is: the role of the baptized is to take action in ways determined by experts and the clergy. Although this can be simpler in a sense, it is a reduction of the human and the mission of the Christian in the world.

  3. Scottaye, thanks for the verbal observation of the 'real world' that we all live in. Quoting you, "but becoming who you are" is exactly what I have been trying to tell my educated religious friends that they need to aspire to. I hear all these blatant pre-programmed responses and it kills me!. I'm not sure if I am articulating my thoughts through verbage properly, but my heart tells me that God is not only the most intelligent being in the cosmos, but he is also the most simple (honest) being in existence!?! Anyway, I'm waffling, but I personally think Heavenly Father is just like me and you, but so much more advanced and perfeted, but very personal. Love ya bro, good times man. Hey, by the way, how's Owe's doin? Miss ya bro, ADB


God's love for us is tireless

Readings: Jer 23:1-6; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34 No doubt you've heard the saying, "There's no rest for the wicked...