Homily preached at Mass celebrated
to mark the seventh anniversary
of the death of Fr. Luigi Giussani.
Twelve months ago, on this anniversary of the arrival of Fr. Luigi Giussani at the “door of the Father’s house”, we gathered in this chapel to offer Mass for the happy respose of his soul. We gathered in faith and in friendship. Later we dispersed to our homes and workplaces. Within a few hours everything had changed in Canterbury as the earthquake struck causing tragic loss of life and destruction. Now, twelve months on, the aftershocks continue in every form. The circumstances of our lives have changed drastically. Some of us, and many of our families and friends are still without homes and workplaces. How appropriate today in marking this seventh anniversary of the death of Fr. Giussani, that we will pray in the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer: “For your faithful people Lord, Life is changed, not ended.” So often change does look like ending. In these weeks we notice the first hint of autumn as green leaves begin to turn. Are the trees dying? No, our experience of past winters turning to spring has taught us well. We have nothing to fear. Winter is nothing more than the journey to the new life of spring.
The ashes of this Ash Wednesday look like death, but for us who are marked with the ash sign of the cross, life is changed, not ended.
The greater challenge is to know this truth in the pattern of human experience: the stuff of our own lives. The forward of our text for this year “At the Origin of the Christian Claim”, opens quoting Pope John Paul II: “the basic human drama is the failure to perceive the meaning of life, to live without a meaning.”
And this fact is at the heart of the gift that the memory of Luigi Giussani continues to give to the Church and to humanity: the meaning of human life is not an optional addition to human existence that is found in ‘something other’.
Instead the purpose of human life is planted in the life-blood, breath and body of every human person. The desire and longing that seems to point to what we lack, instead reveals in reality He whom we already have: Jesus Christ who is our life. The charism that is at the heart of the gift of Luigi Giussani for the Church, is the vibrant and vivid challenge of knowing that the Christian faith is not a guide-book or a belief system. Instead faith is a life that is encountered in the living person of Jesus, God-with-us. Christian faith is a lively, all-pervading and passionate relationship with Jesus. In this relationship life has meaning: Again with Pope John Paul: “the basic human drama is the failure to perceive the meaning of life…” As Cardinal Ratzinger reflected at the funeral of Don Luigi Giussani (two months before his own election as Benedict XVI): “He [Giussani] always kept the eyes of his life and of his heart fixed on Christ. In this way, he understood that Christianity is not an intellectual system, a packet of dogmas, a moralism, Christianity is rather an encounter, a love story; it is an event.
As Pope Benedict concluded his homily at Fr. Giussani’s funeral: “Now your dear friend Fr Giussani has reached the other world, and we are convinced that the door of the Father’s house has opened, we are convinced that now this word is fully realized: they rejoiced to see Jesus. He is rejoicing with a joy that no one can take from him. In this moment we wish to thank the Lord for the great gift of this priest, of this faithful servant of the Gospel, of this father. We entrust his soul to the goodness of his Lord and ours.”
Youtube video below of Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete
speaking about Giussani and Communion and Liberation: