Sharon discovers a deeper sense of dependence in the simple gesture of collecting intentions for a pilgrimage.
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Massachusetts CL communities, along with friends from Vermont and Connecticut, went on pilgrimage to St. Anne’s Shrine in Fiskdale. At an assembly at St. Clement’s in Medford the week before, Monica reminded everyone about the pilgrimage and mentioned that intentions would be collected for the Mass to be celebrated on that day. I went to speak to Monica after the assembly to ask her if she could add my husband to the intentions. She said, “You want to be in charge of collecting the intentions? That would be great!” That wasn’t really what I was asking, but I told Monica I would be happy to help.
A few days before Thanksgiving, Monica sent an email to the communities asking everyone to send their intentions to me. We also have a WhatsApp group called New England Moms, and we often pray novenas to Fr. Giussani together for intentions suggested by the moms in the group. We planned to add these intentions to any other intentions that were sent to me.
I began to receive intentions and prepare the document for the Mass, and after the first draft, I had twenty-two intentions. I emailed them to Monica, Fr. Paolo, and Fr. Luca. Fr. Paolo added a few names to the list, and Monica also sent me a few intentions. She emailed a reminder to the communities and more people responded. I also asked three people to come to the pilgrimage: my mom; Sandi, a friend from work; and a woman from Rhode Island who came to a few events and who is participating in the Risk of Education calls with Fr. José. None of them could come, but they all sent me their intentions for the Mass. In a message to our School of Community, I also reminded people to send me their intentions, and several people responded.
The final draft for the Mass contained thirty-five intentions!
I was moved by the desire and the willingness of my friends to share the great needs of their hearts with the entire community, and I thought about something I read recently in the Risk of Education. In the last paragraphs of the book, Fr. Giussani says we can only notice and recognize correspondence between the Mystery and our humanity when we “nurture a present and alive acceptance of our basic dependency, our essential ‘having been made'.” He also says poverty of spirit is a condition for this acceptance, and the drama of our freedom is played out in this poverty of spirit.
The intentions of my friends were for me a concrete sign of the acceptance of their dependence on Christ. In one of the emails I received, a friend said she is in need of so many prayers she didn’t know how to start. I told her she already started by recognizing her great need for Him. Another friend who was unable to come because he was out of town visiting family sent me his intentions and said, “I am very happy that I can trust that my prayers will be carried by my friends.” Even those who were not present had a great desire to bring their needs to Christ through the prayers of the community.
And those who do not really follow the Movement were also quick to respond when asked for intentions. It is clear what Fr. Giussani says is true. All people have the same heart with the same basic needs--love, truth, beauty--and it doesn’t matter whether they belong to CL or not, but their heart is a human heart that thirsts for God and searches for Him just as we do.
I am grateful that I was asked to do this simple task of collecting intentions, and I amazed by the beauty I have seen and the awareness it has generated in me in these days.
Sharon, New Bedford, Massachusetts