Evil Will Not Win
Laura shares her experience of following the Fraternity Exercises in the midst of a suffering world
I followed the Fraternity Spiritual Exercises with six dear friends a few weekends ago. The exercises are a retreat open to people interested in the charism of Communion and Liberation as a path to sanctity.
I was struck by the dignity of our gesture together. As Katie wrote,
"Mary, the house and locale was just exquisite.
Amy, Barry, and Mary, thank you for all the tech support!! It was a success!!
Thanks Amy for the music sheets and all the music, a real enrichment of the talks.
Laura, Mary, Amy, Annie, Theresa for the delicious and nutritious food and conversation.
Most of all, we are Companions on the Journey---and I am blessed with your friendship.
I humbly thank you with gratitude and silence!!!"
When I lived in Italy I would attend the same style retreat with 23,000 other people! We would go to the town of Rimini, fill all the hotels and gather in a huge pavilion to listen to the lessons and to classical music while entering the place in silence, and also sing and pray together. A large banner would have an image and the title of the retreat. All parts of the gesture were XXL, American style! Then in total silence we would walk, bus or drive to our hotel. The town, in shock, would look at us as aliens and then grew to love us in time.
The seven of us gathered together a few weekends ago had the same dignity in the sense that all the elements of this retreat were the same elements of the retreat with 23,000 participants.
A cute home in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania...was our pavilion,
a laptop...our screen
a home speaker...our amplifier
a beautiful A4 image of Christ...our banner
thirty minutes of classical music before the lesson, well respected.
Fresh flowers, time for silence, two choirs singing the liturgy of the hours in recto tono, learning foreign songs and following the translation printed out for us, conversing on the notes taken, helping one another...
“When two are gathered in my name, I AM with them”, right?
Yet, while I experience this Beauty, the war in Ukraine and school shootings are happening, again and again. I cry “WHY? How can I do my things without forgetting and with hope?”
Fr. Lepori, who led the Spiritual Exercises, read a letter from a friend in Ukraine. She asked: "How can we live today in a place where even the Father seems to have forgotten the son?" Fr. Lepori responds: "We can't go on without constantly thinking of Ukraine [or a school shooting]. Humanity, humans all over live a tragedy that Saint Paul describes very well in his shipwreck travel. We will not save the ship... Jesus decided to go to the very deep of humanity. Jesus embraces our despair. Ask the One that attracts your life, He is crucified and yet He lives! Christ is the Ukrainian who is raped, abandoned, under the bombs. Beg to see Him in your circumstances, beg to see Him in every Russian or Ukrainian. It is thanks to Him that we will defeat death, evil will be defeated. It happens now. Takashi Nagai goes through the moment of despair after the atomic bomb destroyed everything and everyone. Then Jesus talks to him saying, 'My world will not end' and Nagai decides to live for the ONE who does not die. Yes, to live for the ONE who does not die, evil will not win."
Fr. Lepori also added: "I can't answer to the question of why these tragedies happened, I can only share the way. I cannot live without the cry of our Ukrainian friends!...Christ, life of Life. He is the certainty of a good destiny. This is the only thing we need, we all need…Each of us is loved by the Father to live a life which is more or less long. We are made for Him, to live in communion with Him".
This is my value.
Laura, Boyds, MD