Category Archives: Communion & Liberation

Father Julián Carrón writes to Communion & Liberation

Fraternity CL Logo.JPGMilan, November 3, 2008


Dear friends,


Taking part in the Synod of Bishops, which, as you well know, had as its theme “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” gave me a keener grasp of our responsibility in the Church and in the world. First of all, through what emerged during the work of the Synod: that the word of God is an “event”-Jesus Christ-who goes on being present in history through the Church’s life. Therefore the relationship with the living tradition of the Church assimilates us with the novelty witnessed by the Biblical text and makes us share the same experience as those who met Jesus himself. So, as the Pope said at the beginning of the Synod, all our fellow men can discover “the present in the past, the Holy Spirit who speaks to us today in the words of the past.” The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation will point the way for our faith and as such we are all waiting for it.


Precisely in virtue of the Spirit’s action in his Holy Church, we all need a greater awareness. I lived the fact of being appointed by Benedict XVI as a Synod Father as a sign of esteem for our Movement, but above all as a call to give our contribution to the Church’s life. This call was then confirmed by my election as a relator: this meant being the spokesman for the Spanish language group and it implied above all greater involvement in the work of the Synod, collaborating directly with the relator general in giving form to the final Propositions. Many came to me during the days spent together, moved by an interest in or by fondness for our experience.


All this aroused in me the desire to write to you so as to share the experience I had with you–because it concerns you, too–, since it has made me look back over our history to discover the step that I believe we are asked to take. I identify very concisely three phases in our history:


1st phase: the beginning. The birth of the Movement can be characterized by the same dynamics that occur whenever the Spirit breaks into history and arouses a charism for the good of the Church. Like every initiative of the Spirit, our charism, too, was welcomed not without misunderstandings and even hostility, because it could not in any way be confined within preconceived schemes. Not all the suffering of those years was, however, due to the natural resistance that the Spirit’s novelty always meets. It was also due to our immaturity, which only Fr. Giussani’s educative force enabled us to correct and overcome. The Church’s patience in our regard was a sign of her motherhood.


2nd phase: the recognition. The end of Paul VI’s pontificate and the pontificate of John Paul II meant for our Movement authoritative recognition and full acceptance in the life of the Church. The unforgettable expression of this was the meeting in St. Peter’s Square with Benedict XVI, on March 24, 2007. We find an ulterior confirmation in the esteem and interest shown by many at the Synod. So we are called to deepen further our own awareness of our experience.


3rd phase: the charism for the Church and for the world. Today we are called to become more aware of the aim for which the Spirit gave a charism to Fr. Giussani: to contribute along with all the baptized to the building up and renewal of the Church for the good of the world. Following His usual method, God gives grace to one person so that through him it may reach everyone. We shall be unfaithful to the nature of our charism if the gift we have received is not shared with everyone, inside and outside the Church.


So each one of us must find out in his own circumstances how best he can contribute to the good of the Church. There are many ambits in which many of us are making Christ present with astonishing freedom and boldness. This presence of ours in real places where man’s life goes on must not fall short. At the same time, though, we are asked at times to collaborate inside the Church, too. Many of you have been giving this contribution for some time–as catechists in the parish, by charity work and other forms of collaboration– and we must be found more and more available where our presence is asked for and welcomed. This contribution cannot but be in accordance with the nature of our charism, which finds its complete expression in witness.


I am convinced that this step that the Spirit is asking of us will bring us closer and closer to the heart of the mystery of Christ, in such a way as to be able to witness anywhere at all, even through our frailty.


Together in the adventure,


Fr. Julián Carrón

Communion and Liberation Community Day

CL Community Day


Saturday, November 8, 2008


Jesus’ call always entails entrusting yourselves to a community

(L. Giussani, Is it Possible to Live This Way).



We will meet at 10:15 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint James to participate in the
Nicholas DiMarzio.jpg annual event of the Ecclesial Movements in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Bishop DiMarzio is bringing together the ecclesial movements for prayer, fraternity and diocesan unity.

After the diocesan event Communion & Liberation will then move to Saint Patrick’s Church in Bay Ridge for lunch, singing, witnesses and an assembly.


Location & times:


9:30 a.m., Holy Hour

10:15 a.m., Mass


Cath St James.jpgThe Cathedral Basilica of Saint James

Jay Street & Cathedral Place (one block south of Tiliary Street)

Brooklyn NY 11201


Saint Patrick Church

9511 Fourth Avenue

Brooklyn (Bay Ridge) NY 11209


Bring your own lunch and a little something to share. Bring the song book.

What is Luigi Giussani’s Contribution To Theology? Part II: Nothing less than the Infinite

[Part I]


Man wants happiness by nature. I want happiness. So I go out and buy a car.  The car
Luigi Giussani3.jpggives me a taste of happiness but does not fully satisfy the desire. So my desire becomes a question: “What will make me truly and fully happy?” Or perhaps, after I have bought the car and am still enjoying the taste of partial happiness that it gives me, I get into an accident and wreck my beautiful new possession. My simple desire finds itself full of questions: “Why was I not able to hold onto that thing and the satisfaction it gave me?  Why do I lose things?  Why is life so fragile, and is there something that won’t let me down?”


The more we take our own selves and our actions seriously, the more we perceive the mysteriousness and also the urgency of these questions, the fact that we cannot really avoid them’, they are necessarily at the root of everything we do.  This is because it is the nature of the human being to expect something, to look for fulfillment in everything he does.  And where is the limit to this desire to be fulfilled?  There is no limit. It is unlimited.  Every achievement, every possession opens up on a further possibility, a depth that remains to be explored, a sense of incompleteness, a yearning for more.  We are like hikers in the mountains (an analogy Giussani is fond of): we see a peak and we climb to the top.  When we arrive there, we have a new view, and in the distance we see a higher peak promising a still greater vista. 


In the novel The Second Coming by Walker Percy, the character of Allie–a mentally ill woman living alone in a greenhouse–expresses the mysterious depths of human desire through her difficulties in figuring out what to do at four o’clock in the afternoon: “If time is to be filled or spent by working, sleeping, eating, what do you do when you finish and there is time left over?”


Giacomo Leopardi.jpgGiussani quotes the great 19th century Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi–who is speaking here in the persona of a shepherd watching his flock by night, conversing with the moon:


And when I gaze upon you,

Who mutely stand above the desert plains

Which heaven with its far circle but confines,

Or often, when I see you

Following step by step my flock and me,

Or watch the stars that shine there in the sky,

Musing, I say within me:

“Wherefore those many lights,

That boundless atmosphere,

And infinite calm sky?  And what the meaning

Of this vast solitude?  And what am I? 


There are a couple of points about this striking poetic excerpt that are worth mentioning as illustrative of central themes in Giussani. The first point is this: note that the shepherd’s questions are so poignantly expressed “from the heart” (Musing, I say within me).  They are “personal” questions we might say; that is, they are questions that seem deeply important to the shepherd’s own life, that emerge from the shepherd’s solitude as he watches the flocks by night and gazes at the moon.  And yet, the questions themselves are really “philosophical” questions: “metaphysical” questions which ask about the relationship of the universe to its mysterious Source, and “anthropological” questions about the nature of the world, of man, of the self.  Let us note these things only to emphasize that Giussani’s evaluation of the dynamic of the human heart is not exclusively concerned with the pursuit of external objects and the way in which these objects lead “beyond” themselves the acting person who engages them. Giussani stresses that the need for truth is inscribed on the human heart; the need to see the meaning of things is fundamental to man.  Hence the “objectivity” required for addressing philosophical and scientific questions does not imply that these questions are detached from the “heart” of the person who deals with them.  When the scientist scans that infinite, calm sky and that vast solitude with his telescope, he must record what he sees, not what he wishes he would have seen.  In this sense, he must be “objective,” and his questions and methodology must be detached from his own particular interests.  But what puts him behind that telescope in the first place is his own personal need for truth and this need grows and articulates itself more and more as questions emerge in the light of his discoveries.  All of this could be applied by analogy to the researches carried out by a true philosopher. 


The second point is this: Leopardi’s poem conveys with imaginative force the inexhaustibility of human desire and the questions through which it is expressed, or at least tends to be expressed insofar as man is willing to live in a way that is true to himself (several chapters of Giussani’s book are devoted to the various ways in which man is capable of distracting himself or ignoring the dynamic of the religious sense, or anesthetizing himself against its felt urgency).  Even more importantly, he indicates that the unlimited character of man’s most fundamental questions points toward an Infinite Mystery, a mystery that man continually stands in front of with fascination and existential hunger but also with questions, because he is ultimately unable by his own power to unveil its secrets. 


The experience of life teaches man, if he is willing to pay attention to it, that what he is truly seeking, in every circumstance is the unfathomable mystery which alone corresponds to the depths of his soul.  Offer to man anything less than the Infinite and you will frustrate him, whether he admits it or not.  Yet at the same time man is not able to grasp the Infinite by his own power.  Man’s power is limited, and anything it attains it finitizes, reducing it to the measure of itself.  The desire of man as a person, however, is unlimited, which means that man does not have the power to completely satisfy himself; anything that he makes is going to be less than the Infinite. 


Here we begin to see clearly why Giussani holds that the ultimate questions regarding the meaning, the value, and the purpose of life have a religious character; and how it is that these questions are asked by everyone within the ordinary, non-theoretical reasoning process which he terms “the religious sense.” The human heart is, in fact, a great, burning question, a plea, an insatiable hunger, a fascination and a desire for the unfathomable mystery that underlies reality and that gives life its meaning and value. This mystery is something Other than any of the limited things that we can perceive or produce; indeed it is their fundamental Source.  Therefore, the all-encompassing and limitless search that constitutes the human heart and shapes our approach to everything is a religious search. It is indeed, as we shall see in a moment, a search for “God.”


We seek an infinite fulfillment, an infinite coherence, an infinite interpenetration of unity between persons, an infinite wisdom and comprehension, an infinite love, an infinite perfection.  But we do not have the capacity to achieve any of these things by our own
infinity.jpgpower.  Yet, in spite of this incapacity, in spite of the fact that the mystery of life–the mystery of happiness–seems always one step beyond us, our natural inclination is not one of despair, but rather one of dogged persistence and constant hope. Giussani insists that this hope and expectation is what most profoundly shapes the self; when I say the word “I,” I express this center of hope and expectation of infinite perfection and happiness that is coextensive with myself, that “is” myself, my heart.  And when I say the word “you,” truly and with love, then I am acknowledging that same undying hope that shapes your self. 


The human person walks on the roads of life with his hands outstretched toward the mystery of existence, constantly pleading for the fulfillment he seeks–not in despair but

outstretched_hands.jpgwith hope– because the circumstances and events of life contain a promise, they whisper continually that happiness is possible.  This is what gives the human spirit the strength to carry on even in the midst of the greatest difficulties. 


Let us note two further points.  First of all: I cannot answer the ultimate questions about the meaning of my life, and yet every fiber of my being seeks that answer and expects it.  There must be Another who does correspond to my heart, who can fill the need that I am.  To deny the possibility of an answer is to uproot the very foundation of the human being and to render everything meaningless.  As Macbeth says, it would be as if life is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” There must be an answer; and a human being cannot live without seeking that answer.  Giussani says that a human being cannot live five minutes without affirming something, consciously or unconsciously, that makes those five minutes worthwhile.  This is the basic structure of human reason at its root.  “Just as an eye, upon opening, discovers shapes and colors, so human reason–by engaging the problems and interests of life–seeks and affirms some ultimate” value and significance which gives meaning to everything. But if we are honest, if we realize that we cannot fulfill ourselves, if we face the fact that the answer to the question of the meaning of life is not something we can discover among our possessions, or measure or dominate or make with our own hands, then we begin to recognize that our need for happiness points to Someone Else, to an Infinite Someone who alone can give us what we seek.


Second: this longing of my heart, this seeking of the Infinite is not something I made up or chose for myself.  It is not my idea or my project or my particular quirk.  It corresponds to the way I am, to the way I “find myself independent of any of my personal preferences or decisions.  It is at the root of me.  It is at the root of every person.  It is in fact given to me, and to every person–this desire for the Mystery that is at the origin of everything that I am and do.  In the depths of my own self there is this hidden, insatiable hunger and thirst, this “heart that says of You, ‘seek His face!'” (Psalm 27:8), this need for an Other that suggests His presence at the origin of my being.  He gives me my being; He is “nearer to me than I am to myself as St. Augustine says.  And He has made me for Himself, He has placed within each of us a desire that goes through all the world in search of signs of His presence.  In the depths of our being, we are not alone.  We are made by Another and for Another. “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You,” says St. Augustine.


Dome.JPGThus, Giussani teaches that the Mystery of God is the only reality that corresponds to the “heart” of man: to the fundamental questions of human reason and the fundamental desire of the human freedom.  It is this Infinite Mystery that the human person seeks in every circumstance of life.  In our work, our loves, our friendships, our leisure time, our eating and drinking, our living and dying–in all of these activities we seek the face of the unfathomable Mystery that we refer to with poor words like “happiness” or “fulfillment” or “perfection.”


St. Thomas Aquinas says that God is happiness by His Essence, and we are called to participate in His happiness by being united to Him who is Infinite Goodness.  We are made for happiness.  By our very nature we seek happiness.  To be religious, then, is to recognize that God alone can make us happy.  It is to recognize the mysterious existential reflection of God’s infinite truth, goodness, and beauty that radiates from every creature, that lights up the circumstances of our lives, and calls out to us through all the opportunities that life presents to us. 


In this sketch of Giussani’s understanding of what he calls “the religious sense,” we can see the profound reflections that underlie his great apostolate: his effort to teach his students that religion cannot be relegated to the fringes of life. Giussani insisted to his students that religion was not to be simply delineated as one aspect of life: a comfort for our sentiments, a list of ethical rules, a foundation for the stability of human social life (even though it entails such things as various consequences that follow from what it is in itself).  Rather, the realm of the religious is coextensive with our happiness. The proper position of the human being is to live each moment asking for God to give him the happiness he seeks but cannot attain by his own power.  Asking for true happiness–this is the true position of man in front of everything. Giussani often points out that “structurally” (that is, by nature), man is a “beggar” in front of the mystery of Being. 


This brings us to the final chapters of The Religious Sense, in which Giussani analyses the dramatic character of this truth about man, both in terms of the very nature of this position of “being a beggar” and in terms of how this truth has played itself out in the great drama of human history.  We could all too easily allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep by all of this lovely language about desiring the Infinite Mystery, and end up missing the point.  The image of the beggar ought not to be romanticized in our imaginations. Generally people don’t like to be beggars, and they don’t have much respect for beggars. We should be able to attain what we need by our own efforts; is this not a basic aspect of man’s sense of his own dignity?  And yet the very thing we need most is something that we do not have the power to attain, something we must beg for.  This is the true human position, and yet it is not as easy to swallow as it may at first appear. 


We are beggars in front of our own destiny because the Infinite One for whom our hearts have been made is always beyond the things of this world that point toward Him but do not allow us to extract His fullness from them by our own power.  This fact causes a great tension in the experience of the human person–a “vertigo,” a dizziness, Giussani calls it –and there results the inevitable temptation to shrink the scope of our destiny, to attempt to be satisfied with something within our power, something we are capable of controlling and manipulating.  This, says Giussani, is the essence of idolatry.  Instead of allowing ourselves to be “aimed” by the beauty of things toward a position of poverty and begging in front of the Beauty who is “ever beyond” them, the Mystery of Infinite Splendor who sustains them all–who holds them in the palm of his hand–we try instead to grasp these finite things and make them the answer to our need for the Infinite. 


This great tension at the heart of man’s religious sense– and the historical tragedy of man’s failure to live truly according the historical tragedy of man’s failure to live truly according to the religious sense–generates within the heart of man the longing for salvation.  Corresponding to this longing, Giussani says, is the recognition of the possibility of revelation.  Might not the Infinite Mystery make Himself manifest in history, create a way within history for me to reach Him?  Might not the Infinite Mystery who constitutes my happiness approach me, condescend to my weakness, guide my steps toward Him?  This possibility–the possibility of Divine Revelation–is profoundly “congenial” to the human person, because man feels profoundly his need for “help” in achieving his mysterious destiny. 


The Religious Sense concludes on this note: the possibility of revelation.  Here the ground is laid for the second book in what might be called Giussani’s catechesis of Christian anthropology: The Origin of the Christian Claim.  In this book, Giussani will propose that Christ is the revelation of God in history, the Mystery drawn close to man’s life–walking alongside the human person.  Christ is the great Divine help to the human person on the path to true happiness. 


This an excerpt of the essay, Man in the Presence of Mystery. The author, John  Janaro, professor of theology at Christendom College, delivered this paper in 1998.

What is Luigi Giussani’s Contribution To Catholic Theology?

The preceding account [see who is Luigi Giussani] might lead one to believe that the
Luigi Giussani5.jpgsignificance of Luigi Giussani is primarily that of a teacher and spiritual leader.  It would be an unfortunate mistake, however, to view him in this way if it led one to dismiss Giussani’s vast literary output, and its contribution to the intellectual life of the Church and our times.  In this essay, we want to give a brief outline of the central thesis of the book by Giussani that has recently been published in a scholarly edition in English, entitled The Religious Sense.  Here, we hope, it will become clear that Giussani’s thought presents a profound theological analysis of human “psychology” (in the classical sense of this term); indeed, it represents a tremendous resource toward the development of a fully adequate Catholic theological anthropology. 


Giussani proposes what he calls “the religious sense” as the foundation of the human person’s awareness of himself and his concrete engagement of life.  The term “religious sense” does not imply that Giussani thinks that man’s need for religion is part of the organic structure of his bodily senses, nor does he mean that religion is to be defined as a mere emotional sensibility or a vague kind of feeling.  Rather, Giussani uses the term “sense” here in the same way that we refer to “common sense” or the way that John Henry Newman sought to identify what he called the “illative sense.”  “Sense” refers to a dynamic spiritual process within man; an approach to reality in which man’s intelligence is fully engaged, but not according to those categories of formal analysis that we call “scientific.” Giussani’s understanding of the “religious sense” in man has a certain kinship to Jacques Maritain’s view that man can come to a “pre-philosophical” or “pre-scientific” awareness of the existence of God, in that both positions insist that reason is profoundly involved in the approach to God for every human being–not just for philosophers. What is distinctive about Giussani’s approach, however, is his effort to present a descriptive analysis of the very core of reason, the wellspring from which the human person, through action, enters into relationship with reality.  Needless to say, “action” in the Giussanian sense is not simply to be identified with an external “activism,” but involves also and primarily what Maritain would call the supremely vital act by which man seeks to behold and embrace truth, goodness, and beauty–those interrelated transcendental perfections inherent in all things which Giussani refers to by a disarmingly simple term: meaning.


Luigi Giussani4.jpgGiussani proposes that we observe ourselves “in action,” and investigate seriously the fundamental dispositions and expectations that shape the way we approach every circumstance in life.  In so doing, we will discover that the “motor” that generates our activity and places us in front of things with a real interest in them is something within ourselves that is both reasonable and mysterious.  It is something so clear and obvious that a child can name it, and yet it is something so mysterious that no one can really define what it is: it is the search for happiness.  The human heart–in the biblical sense, as the center of the person, the foundation of intelligence and freedom, and not merely the seat of infrarational emotions and sentiments–seeks happiness in all of its actions.  Here, of course, Giussani is saying the same thing as St. Thomas Aquinas.  Giussani opens up new vistas on this classical position, however, by engaging in an existentially attentive analysis of the characteristics of this “search.”  Giussani emphasizes the dramatic, arduous, and mysterious character of the need for happiness as man actually experiences it.  He says that if we really analyze our desires and expectations, even in the most ordinary and mundane circumstances, what we will find is not some kind of desire for happiness that we can easily obtain, package, and possess through our activity.  Rather we will see that genuine human action aims at “happiness” by being the enacted expression of certain fundamental, mysterious, and seemingly open-ended questions.  The heart, the self, when acting–when the person is working, playing, eating, drinking, rising in the morning, or dying–is full of the desire for something and the search for something that it does not possess, that it cannot give to itself, and that it does not even fully understand, although the heart is aware that this Object is there, and its attainment is a real possibility. 


existence.jpgGiussani claims that religiosity coincides with these fundamental questions:

The religious factor represents the nature of our “I” in as much as it expresses itself in certain questions: “What is the ultimate meaning of existence?” or “Why is there pain and death, and why, in the end, is life worth living?”  Or, from another point of view: “What does reality consist of and what is it made for?”  Thus, the religious sense lies within the reality of our self at the level of these questions.


This means that, according to Giussani, man becomes authentically religious to the extent that he develops and articulates in the face of the circumstances of life the basic natural complex of questions or “needs” that are identified in the first chapter of the book as constitutive of the human heart: the need for truth, justice, goodness, happiness, beauty. 


This complex of “needs” which constitutes the human heart by nature, will become more and more explicit and urgent as the person lives life and pursues the things that attract him, if he is truly honest with himself.


This an excerpt of the essay, Man in the Presence of Mystery. The author, John Janaro, professor of theology at Christendom College, delivered this paper in 1998. 

Who Is Luigi Giussani?

Most English language readers know little about the person and work of Luigi Giussani.
Luigi Giussani2.jpg  His vast publications have been virtually unknown in the philosophical or theological academy here in North America.  The general public who are well read on religious topics have perhaps heard his name and associate it with a large Catholic lay movement known as “CL.”  It would be useful, therefore, to begin with a general introduction to Luigi Giussani: the man, the priest, the professor, and the vibrant leader of a great apostolic movement in the Catholic Church today. 


Luigi Giussani has devoted his life and priestly ministry to the evangelization and catechesis of young people for nearly 50 years.  In the early days of his priesthood, while serving as seminary professor in the diocese of Milan in 1952, Giussani encountered some Italian High School students while on a train trip.  At this time, many in the Church took it for granted that the Catholic faith was still firmly rooted in the mentality of the Italian people, and that its transmission to the next generation was no great cause for concern.  Based on his brief conversation with a group of teenagers, however, Giussani intuited a profound problem which would soon manifest itself to the world in the intellectual and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.  What he saw was this: not only did these young people have a poor grasp of the basic truths of the Catholic faith; they were unable to conceive the relationship between this Faith–which they still openly professed at that time–and their way of looking at the world, their way of making judgments about circumstances and events, their way of evaluating (i.e., assessing the real value) of the situations they had to deal with in life.  The student might profess to be Catholic, recite the creed, and perhaps even know parts of his Catechism (or even more, if he was bright).  But when it came to making judgments and decisions about things that he viewed as truly important to his life, his ideals and hopes for happiness were shaped by a secularized mentality; a mentality in which Christ and His Church were largely absent, or at best relegated to a dusty corner.  Giussani saw that many of the young people in Italy in the early 1950s who would have described themselves as “Catholic” did not in fact seek to judge the realities of the world and the significance of their own lives according to a Christian mentality; that is, the “transformed and renewed mind” that St. Paul says is the basis for viewing the world in union with Christ and according to the wisdom of God’s plan (see Rom. 12:2).2  Rather, the mentality of these “young Catholics” was being shaped by all the contradictory emphases of the so-called “modern” era: the absolute sufficiency of “scientific” human reason on the one hand, and the exaltation of subjectivism on the other; the emphasis on a deontological ethics of duty divorced from the good of the person on the one hand, and the enthrallment with the spontaneity of mere instinct and emotional individualism on the other.


Giussani perceived the need for young people to receive an integral catechesis that would
Luigi Giussani4.jpghelp them to realize–both existentially and intellectually–that Christ is the center of all of life, and that because of this their experience of life in union with Christ in His Church should shape their entire outlook and invest all of their daily activity with an evangelical energy.  Giussani therefore requested and received from his bishop permission to leave seminary teaching and inaugurate an educational apostolate for youth: first at the Berchet High School in Milan, and then for many years as Professor of religion at the Catholic University of Milan. 


Giussani’s teaching method was to challenge the oppressive secularism that dominated the mentality of his students by inspiring them to conduct a rigorous examination of themselves, the fundamental experiences that characterize man’s life and aspirations, and the radical incapacity of modern secular culture to do justice to the deep mystery of the human heart.  This examination–carried out within an existentially vital ecclesial context in which Christ is encountered through a friendship with those who follow Him–leads to a rediscovery of man’s “religious sense,” that is, the fundamentally religious character of the questions and desires that are inscribed on his heart.  Man has been made for God, and the only way that he can realize the truth of himself (and thus be happy) is by recognizing God and adhering to Him wholeheartedly.  Giussani then sought to lead his students to understand and appreciate in a deeper way the fact that God has made this adherence to Himself concretely possible, attractive, and beautiful by becoming man and perpetuating His incarnate presence in the world through His Church. 


Soon after he began teaching young people, Giussani founded an Italian Catholic student organization, Gioventu Studentesca.  During the turmoil of the late 1960s, when almost all the Italian universities were taken over by Marxism or other radical left ideologies, Giussani’s students published a manifesto entitled Comunione e Liberazione, in which they declared that man can truly be free only if he lives in communion with Christ and the Church.  Thus the group came to be known as “CL.”  And when these students graduated from the university, they began to bring the educational methods of Giussani into the
CL B16.jpgvarious places where they worked and lived their adult lives, continuing to learn from and to retain contact with one another and with their great teacher.  By means of this friendship guided by Giussani’s particular pedagogical approach, a “movement”– a style of living the Catholic faith–took form.  This “movement” gained the attention of other Italian bishops, priests, and people throughout the Church and even outside the Church.  In this way, CL–while retaining its fundamentally theological and pedagogical character–moved far beyond the walls of the University of Milan.  In 1982, Pope John Paul II called upon the members of CL to “Go into all the world and bring the truth, the beauty, and the peace which are found in Christ the Redeemer…


This is the charge I leave with you today.”  The Pope made it clear that it was his desire that CL become an instrument of the new evangelization not only in Italy, but throughout the world.  Following this desire of the Pope, numerous missionary initiatives were taken, and a more profound and stable presence of CL has since been established in Africa, the Americas, and other parts of Europe. 


Today, CL is one of the largest “Ecclesial Movements” in the Church, counting among its 100,000 members around the world not only university students, but also bishops, priests, and lay people engaged in a variety of professions and cultural activities.



This an excerpt of the essay, Man in the Presence of Mystery. The author, John Janaro, professor of theology at Christendom College, delivered this paper in 1998. 

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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