A People Destroyed and Rebuilt
Why does Giussani end a chapter on glory with destruction and renewal? For Nancy, the answer comes in "a tenderness and joy in the normalities of life."
In preparing for the assembly today, I felt a joy in my heart to do this work even though I cannot attend. As I started this work, a question kept coming up, “Why does Father Giussani take the reader through this chapter entitled, A New People in History for the Human Glory of Christ, and end the chapter with destruction and renewal? I did not see the trajectory of what Father Giussani wanted to teach us. When I rephrased the question, a recent experience was already showing an answer. “What does Father Giussani want to teach me by starting with A New Protagonist, and then For the Human Glory, then ending with A People Continually Destroyed and Rebuilt?
My recent experience. . . I stopped by a friend’s house and they, a married couple, are facing very challenging external pressures (not within the marriage). It’s a very difficult situation, one they cannot resolve with time, money, or influence. It’s a difficult situation that they will have to live with for awhile. And yet, I was struck when the husband came home late from work, and the wife had his dinner ready with a gaze of love and tenderness on him. He asks if they had BBQ sauce, thinking they were out. She finds it disgusting and yet she responds joyfully, because her husband likes it. They have it and she gets it for him. He pours the BBQ sauce on the plate and while this is happening the wife is looking at the amount of sauce and says, “come on”--at which he looks at her with a tender smile and takes a bite of chicken.
I share with you these details because they struck me and warmed my heart--this exchange took less than thirty seconds. I am impressed by these two friends, this married couple, because in the middle of difficult and challenging pressures that they cannot eliminate from their life, there is a tenderness and joy in the normalities of life which for me is a sign of His Glory here on earth.
So, what you all might ask, does this experience have to do with my question? Maybe Giussani is trying to teach us that through the trajectory of Chapter Three we can learn who we are, how our joy is His Glory, and when the reality forces us, hits us, hurts us, implies changes we do not want, there are clear moments of rebirth because the seed of faith that has been planted is not lost but actually growing, stabilizing, balancing.
Giussani says, "As we go on maturing, we are a spectacle for ourselves. . . a spectacle of limitation, betrayal, humiliation, and at the same time of inexhaustible certainty in the power of grace that is given us and renewed" (98). And again, quoting Christopher Dawson on page 105, “quietly, patiently, gradually, that often til the work was done, it was not known to be doing.”
It’s not true that challenging circumstances mean all is lost, but instead, with that backdrop, the normality of life and the tenderness we show each other are now aflame as the power of His grace!
Nancy, Los Angeles, California