Repair my church
Publish date 14-11-2021
When the unexpected arrives, it doesn't ask for permission, it doesn't wait for the right moment, it doesn't look if it's midsummer, if it's vacation time. It arrives and for us who are used to planning everything, it is a great nuisance. If we can we avoid it, if we can we move it and if it is something inevitable, we torment ourselves, we get angry, we rebel. We always think we can decide on everything about our life as if our plans were always sacrosanct. Opposing events, what we cannot control, what we do not know and what we are afraid of still makes us restless, while experience teaches us that looking for a new interpretation, knowing the unexpected, welcoming what was not in our plans it is the best way to face the challenges of a life that we cannot claim to know fully.
In the life of the Arsenal and of the Fraternity we understood this soon and after the first resistance we realized that learning to welcome the unexpected was the key to growth. Starting from the eighties from the letter of Claudio Carbone (political prisoner who together with his companions sought dialogue with a small Catholic community just established at the Arsenale della Pace to get out of the isolation after terrorism) to the pointed finger and the uncomfortable question of a young immigrant: "Where are you sleeping tonight?" was a succession of unforeseen events, which we did not look for but which came to meet us, forced us to interrupt our programs, disturbed us, shook us. But each time, in retrospect, rereading our history we have realized that each of those moments contributed to giving us a shape, revealed important traits of the road ahead, made us know where the Spirit wanted to take us. How can God speak to us if not like this? By confronting ourselves with something we do not know little by little we enter into an ever wider knowledge of the truth, of God, of his kingdom.
The graces of the Lord are not finished, his mercies are not exhausted (Lam 3:22) and after so many manifestations of the Lord in the unforeseen events of our life, in these summer months we return to feel visited by God in an unexpected way. In the year of isolation due to the pandemic, we felt pushed to keep hope alive through meetings, moments of prayer, streaming comparisons, through the use of every social channel; in May we felt we could go out again, like Noah from the ark after the flood and we set off following the Giro d'Italia, from north to south, to meet people, young people, friends and once again to draw out hope from the pain experienced.
Now, in early summer, we still hear a knock on our door. This time the unexpected seems to come from the Church, at the beginning of the synod from below wanted by the Pope, as if the Church were also looking in us to help her heal her wounds, to return to being the light of the world, the salt of earth, leaven in the dough and go back to being a "city on the mountain" so that wounded humanity may find its own direction in its turn. We have always felt that we are part of the Church and we have never failed to be faithful to her, always available to respond to her call, as a part of the Church at the service of the world. In this season of our history we feel that the unexpected knock is the invitation that Jesus had already addressed to St. Francis: "Francis repairs my Church". Not the walls, but the relationships with men and women, with children and young people, with the elderly and with minorities ... poor, capable of giving an account of the hope that is in them, attentive to the signs of the times, faithful to prayer and to the spiritual life. We answered yes and we are aware that a new season is starting for us.
Soon it will be 2 August, the feast of the pardon of Assisi, wanted by St. Francis to seal that invitation "repair my church". For us it is the day of entry to the Arsenale della Pace in 1983 and for some years it has been the feast of Mary Mother of the Young. But we feel that August 2nd of this year will be a new beginning for us.
NP June / July 2021