Four challenges of the Arsenale
Publish date 29-07-2020
On the morning of August 2, 1983, the door of that building of the Military Arsenal that would have been given to Sermig opened for a quick visit. Dilapidated structure in the eyes, majestic in the heart. The interrupted roof of the courtyard - the reconstruction after the bombings of the Second World War had left that space free - attracted the gaze towards the sky. The faint rays of the sun that penetrated from the lateral lunettes of the wall bearing the roof drew on the walls plays of light and shadow that were repeated in succession. Ernesto with his unfailing Bible in his hand contemplated what he already saw.
Twenty years have passed and when I enter the new door, almost entirely made of glass, to communicate both the invitation to enter and the opening to the world of those inside, I am always and still excited and moved. The beauty of the renovated building takes you, the smile of those who welcome you involves, the vitality that grasps you.
Twenty years are not a few. Twenty years of history made up of stories of people, of friends who have now left us and of the many new ones who have become involved; twenty years of meetings, of facts. Of history, in fact, which I like to summarize through four of the great challenges I have witnessed.
The first challenge was to trust Providence. It has materialized through the creativity of architects, the calculations of engineers, the professional work of construction companies and craftsmen, the constant help of volunteers. All people who believed in the importance of transforming a military arsenal into an arsenal of peace and who gave their availability to make this dream of hope come true.
The second challenge that developed within the walls of the Arsenale has developed at an increasing rate and has extended from these walls, the 360 ° opening to the world and emerging issues with a view to solidarity and gratuitousness. If the Arsenal has been able to serve the disadvantaged and to intervene in the world with aid and development projects, to be available for peace actions - 82 countries in which interventions have been carried out - it is because many have matured the belief that what you are and what you have is a gift that must be shared and that the good must be done well.
The third challenge: a today and a tomorrow of hope for young people. The Arsenale has become a reference point for young people who have decided to get involved to achieve great ideals. Not only. Many of them understood that the vocation of their life was to serve the Lord through the 'tool' Arsenal.
But the biggest challenge I have seen at the Arsenale is to see the goodness and docility take over the hearts. When in the face of death, in unspeakable suffering, in anguished situations you see that your friends who are involved in it do not lash out against God, do not give up entrusting themselves to him, they continue to maintain with conviction that he is a good Father and to give him what they have and what I am at that moment, you understand that something great has happened. When you find yourself in front of people whose life choices have led to having a hard heart and rendered incapable of emotion and who, after a journey in contact with the experience of the Arsenal, they become capable of asking, receiving, giving forgiveness, what can you say except that a miracle really happened?
The Arsenale, therefore, is not a structure, but a laboratory of hope from which to draw stimuli to export its life experience and build peace. And the new Arsenals in Brazil and Jordan and those to come become tangible signs of this path.
from Nuovo Progetto, August-September 2003