Relying on Mary to continue welcoming...
In the nine days that preceded the naming of the Arsenale at Casa di Maria, we prepared ourselves by retracing each evening a part of the history of the Sermig that we lived with Maria: the waiting and the beginning of the Arsenal, the pilgrimages, the 'going on a mission, presence in Brazil and Jordan, young people in first place, the dimension of spirituality, the choice to stay in the Church ...
It was an opportunity for me to also remember my personal relationship with Mary
. Hers was a constant presence in my world as a child. From an early age, the adults and the elderly who populated my life passed it on to me with their faith. In their belief they had more confidence with Our Lady than with the Lord and their prayer was made more of the Rosary than of the Gospel. I remember the whispering of the elderly who, morning and evening, accompanied the first and last steps of the day in prayer. Life was intertwined with festivals and memories related to the Madonna and we children were always involved. If I look back now I reflect that Our Lady kept the Gospel alive in those generations, communicating the essentials of Jesus' life to simple people who had no other nourishment from Scripture than Sunday Mass. The mysteries of the life of Jesus that make up the Rosary were the miniature Gospel that people were able to keep with them always, in their homes, at work, in joys, in sorrows… But then I didn't understand.
In the 70s, like every young man of my age, I wanted to find the reasons for my faith alone, I rejected the religious mentality I had inherited because it was all devotion and it almost seemed to me that she considered Our Lady more than Jesus and more the Rosary of the Gospel . For me, on the other hand, the center of the day and of prayer had become the Gospel which made me know the human-divine traits of Jesus, also grafted my life into the history of salvation, gave meaning and fulfillment to every situation I lived. It was the essentials that I always carried with me. In fact I have filed the Madonna in my childhood memories with all the devotions related to her. I needed to find the essential, the heart of my belief. After having "filed" her in the drawer of memories, it was the Gospel that gave me back Mary, with the few essential features of her cleansed of the devotions of the past: the yes without conditions, always serving, being with Jesus and above all a new trait of she, when twice in the same chapter (2,19 and 51), Luke portrays Mary meditating on the facts of her life and the life of Jesus: "Mary (...) kept all these things, pondering them in her heart ...".
At the end of the 1970s, parallel to my vocation, the desire to create "a small fraternity of common life" - as Ernesto wrote at the time - was born in Sermig to live the Gospel, to help us to be Christians in the Church. And the search for a home began, a place where only God could guide us because we wanted it from him. Who could help us “touch” God's heart? Who could have moved him so that he would agree to tie his star to our chariot and join our desire to his? Mary, who at Cana says to the servants "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5), could also intercede for us. We naturally re-appropriated the Rosary to remind Mary of our dream and receive from God the sign that He was walking with us. And so it was for me. We recited it every day alone where we were, in small groups at the Consolata or in front of the closed doors of the Arsenale, which seemed to us the best place to house the Fraternity. On 2 August 1983 the door opened wide on the ancient arches of this former arms factory that could be transformed and become a metropolitan monastery. There could not be a greater disproportion: a few ants in front of a giant. How would we do it? We have never stopped holding the Rosary in our hand and repeating “Hail Mary…” in our hearts.
The years have followed one another but the disproportion has never diminished and our strength has never been enough without the tow of that Star to which we have linked our actions. Breaking old walls, digging, repairing roofs, young people helping us in unsafe environments, often dangerous jobs we did without too much competence… It wasn't a challenge to common sense, it was a dream that wanted to give wings. We prayed tirelessly to Mary to help us, to protect us, to indicate the best choices. The Rosary was the only prayer that came out of my lips when I felt and felt precariousness and danger. Ernesto often stopped us during work to invite us to say a Hail Mary ". It was important because we all tuned in and he recovered more united and more attentive. We always tell ourselves that the greatest miracle that Mary did for us, in those years of dangerous work, is that no one was seriously hurt.
Maria accompanied the transformation of the Arsenal, of the Sermig and also of my life. In addition to the Arsenale, which has become Mary's House, I can say that Mary has found a home in me too. I share everything with her: the trepidation for the most difficult choices, the worries of every day, the moments of pain, the joy that makes me thank, the small and big decisions. I constantly entrust to her the people who approach me with their needs. An incessant dialogue that made her a constant and sure presence as a Woman, Friend, Sister and Mother. Whether or not she holds the Rosary in her hands, it continues to be for me now the first and last to whom I entrust myself.