Only Love has won

Publish date 29-07-2016

by Rosanna Tabasso

The Arsenale did not appear for us one morning, like a mushroom, in the heart of old Turin, accompanied by extraordinary signs: this is not what we mean by a miracle. Love - we like to call him who guided us, because love truly unites all men of good will - did not want us to find a home easily; before letting us open our eyes, he left us for so long in the dark, to desire, to struggle, to dream, sometimes despairing of obtaining. He introduced us into a desert of purification, just like on the path to the Promised Land and it is there that, between infidelity and misery, the true miracle made its way: the beginning of a conversion; the expectation of a heart of flesh, the desire to mirror the face of Love on our face ...


As we walked through a thousand obstacles, the paths of the desert, the desire to remain faithful grew in us. Our four years of waiting have been forty years of desert on the way to the Promised Land.

Here is the true, humble, extraordinary miracle: the will to take Love seriously and let itself be transformed in the heart according to the promise made to those who believe: "I will give you a new heart". The miracle is that for us normal people, for us poor people of the twentieth century, the time of the "new heart" has come and we have realized it thanks to this house.

The Arsenal is a miracle of conversion.
Over the months, years of waiting, we often said to each other: the Arsenale is a gift of Love ... It will come when we are truly available to it, when we are ready to welcome it.
A house is not four walls ... A house is a family that knows how to welcome: because it knows how to love. How many revisions, how many self-criticisms about our being still too hard in the heart! And how many resistances to let ourselves be taken completely by the claims of Love!
But in the end, even in the most reluctant, the desire to respond with a total yes, without conditions, to the proposals made by the Love that once accepted, no longer leaves you calm.

The Arsenal is a miracle of faith. "If you had as much faith as a mustard seed ..." I don't know if our faith is already so great ... but certainly by saying yes to the Arsenale we took a leap into the dark, trusting only in Love. How many times have we repeated in our hearts the words of Mary: "How is it possible?". How is it possible that the Arsenal becomes our home?
How is it possible that we, poor as we are and with strength and capacity, can achieve so much? How is it possible? And as you have heard the challenge of faith emerge in us: "Nothing is impossible for God".
Finally like Mary we replied, one by one: "Here I am, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me." These words began to resonate in us precisely because we felt we believed the Word, feeling it pronounced for us, welcoming it as a promise of life.


And the Word still confirmed us in faith: to believe, without seeing; to believe sometimes without understanding; to believe also in the time of the aridity of the heart; to believe despite the inability to give meaningful answers to incomprehensible facts.
The Word has nourished in us the certainty of being surrounded by Love; invited us to accept the evidence for long and painful it was. Until then we did not know that we already had a path to follow ... discovering it meant for some people to leave everything totally trusting this announced Love, for others to question themselves, for still others to turn their lives upside down.
The Word educated us to pray: to ask with faith and unceasingly, with the humility of the poor, with the simplicity of the little ones; thank always and for everything: positive signs that strengthen hope and negative messages that teach us humility and remind us that we are useless servants; seek silence of the heart, or be in the presence of Love.

The Arsenal is a miracle of Hope.
We are not optimists by nature, we do not see the whole pink world ...
We are immersed - like everyone else - in everyday problems, among people in difficulty. We know the harshness of life, injustices make us suffer because we have in the eyes the desperate faces of men, women, and boys, whose tears and rashes we have collected.
Hope is not a talisman against all this, as if saying the word exorcises what is difficult to accept: "But, let's hope ...".
Hope is trust in Love that does not abandon but is still a risk that one accepts to take. Our house is called Arsenale - Casa della Speranza ... because we have chosen to become men, women, boys who live hope and communicate it simply in the face-to-face meeting, working and praying together, or in a silent exchange.
We have not yet reached that point, but we are not even still ... We know that before we can write on the door of the Arsenale "House of Hope", we ourselves must become a house of hope.


The Arsenal is a miracle of peace. The same love unites us to many men of good will who believe in peace and work with strength and purity for the good of man. Here is another miracle born thanks to the Arsenale: being able to walk together with men who are different from us, but who like us have been able to take the risk of loving seriously.
The fruit of love is peace, the deepest peace that man can experience. Those who jumped like this, headlong, found peace of heart. Our dream is that whoever enters this house, which once called the war, can breathe peace ... finding a fraternity of welcome, human warmth, availability ... We know that this miracle of peace is like a small seed just thrown, if we continue to believe it, it will grow and be a barrier to the violence that spreads in our city and in the world.

The Arsenal is the miracle of a community ...
We were a handful of people, different, who did "things" together ... Thanks to the Arsenale we have known the reality of communion, a deep bond that makes us "one heart, one soul".
We almost didn't want it ... we had a serious fear of losing our freedom ... the experience of common life convinced us with all the difficulties it produces, but also with the great joy of being together: it is more what you earns what you lose. Thinking about how different we were, we do not find a greater miracle than this: feeling one, feeling that we love each other, but really.
We have made our talents available to the community, welcoming insights that have changed the lives of many as radically as possible. The Arsenal is the miracle of people who have accepted the risk of love that has made its way in us, but not only for us: «He will rebuild his temple in you with joy, to cheer all the deportees in you, to to make happy all the unfortunate in you, for all generations of centuries "(Tb 13).
The miracle that we await every day is to be able to extend to others the fraternity that Love has given us ... to always involve new friends in the adventure of Love. This is the only certainty for the future ... while we are waiting for other signs to guide us.
We don't feel like winners, we too, like everyone else, have been won.
Only Love has won.


from Progetto, January 1984

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