Category Archives: Communion & Liberation

Lorenzo Albacete to present “God at the Ritz: Attraction to Infinity”


GR.jpgGod at the Ritz: Attraction to Infinity: A Priest-Physicist Talks about Science, Sex, Politics and Religion
by Lorenzo Albacete

 

Trained as a physicist and a Roman Catholic priest, Albacete has written a fine book of short reflections on religion, its place in our world, its at-times troubled relationship to its own truth claims, the meaning of suffering, and the experience of pluralism and liberalism. Albacete cites the thought of John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, to be sure, but he also engages with Germaine Greer, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Paul Ricoeur. Albacete’s profound sense of the religious leads him not to dogma but to a series of sensitively framed, sincere questions that should catch the attention and empathy of many readers.


Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, National Director, Communion and Liberation; Chairman, Board of Advisors, Crossroads Cultural Center; former President, Catholic University of Puerto Rico; former Professor of Theology, St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York.

Wednesday, November 12th, 6:00-7:30pm

Columbia University

Davis Auditorium, Schapiro Center (116th & Broadway)

 

RSVP here.

 

Read Christopher West’s review of God at the Ritz

How a Community is Born

Traces November 2008

Traces Oct.jpg

Los Angeles

 

by Paola Bergamini



Work and life in the parish, barbecues on the beach and weddings. Everyday circumstances which, for an Italian transferred to California, became opportunities for meeting people, and for risk. In the capital of the ephemeral, a curious presence emerged.

 

Los Angeles. In the offices of the Disney movie department, the air is heavy. It’s official: the company has decided to shed 300 jobs. Guido is at his desk waiting for his turn to be called by the boss. He is sure that he is on the list to go because he is the last to have arrived. He has been working for Disney for four years, but he has been working in this section for only six months, and only those six months count. At the end of the day, his boss calls him; he is the last. “I’m sorry, Piccarolo, I’m really sorry…,” and his eyes are wet. “I’m sorry, too. Not only do I have to find another job. For me, my work is the expression of what I love most, and here this was possible.” “It could be seen. Working with you was different. That is why I have managed to keep you on for another year [instead of the usual two weeks] and I’d like to give you a hand in finding another job.” The personnel manager, present at the interview, is astonished-nothing of this kind ever happens; at most, there are one or two tears, an expletive, and negotiation about the weeks to be paid. The logic of profit, of power, is unhinged. Another factor has come into play: affection for reality, for the other person, the echo of a greater Love that has embraced you and that changes relationships astonishingly. “It has always been this way for me, since 1994, when I graduated in Economics and Commerce and, at the suggestion of Memores Domini leader Carlo Wolfsgruber, left for New York, where Fr. Marino had asked for the opening of a house of the Memores Domini [the association composed of people of CL who follow a vocation of total dedication to God while living in the world]. I knew nothing, not even the English language. I said ‘yes’ to a look of love towards me.” He told me this at La Thuile, during the CL International Assembly, where we met again after 15 years. As he was speaking, I saw that he had a purer, more likeable look about him.

 

Behind the circumstances

Guido spent two years living with Fr. Marino, and then he got a job in a telecommunications firm “with younger colleagues who bossed you around. But life passed through there, and through the photocopies I had to make, sometimes all day long,” he remembers. After six months, the director called him: “I need a man I can trust in Los Angeles. I’ve seen how you work, I believe in you, but here you have no future. Do you want to go?” There was nothing in Los Angeles: no community, no Memores Domini house. Giudo wrote to Fr. Giussani, asking to go for two reasons: 1) The chance to learn a job; 2) to take along the beauty of the experience he was living. After a few days, the answer came through Giorgio Vittadini: “This is something great. Fr. Giussani thanks you. There will soon be a Memores Domini house.” Every weekend for a month, accompanied by Salvatore, he flew to Los Angeles to look for a house and to find out about the job. Then he set off. The first three months he was alone. “In that period, I always asked for the companionship of Christ for my life, and the simple fact of asking for it means you are not alone. It was not an expectation that blocked life. One day after another proved to be rich with occasions to be beside Him.” It is a new way of approaching reality that can be seen-on the job, in the parish that Guido begins to attend, in everyday relationships. After three months, Carlo came to live with Guido for eight months, to write his thesis, and then Mauro came to stay indefinitely. So Fr. Giussani was right: the Memores house was founded. After one year, Guido changed his job so as to stay in Los Angeles. He worked in a firm that was expanding frenetically. He worked twelve hours a day, including Saturday and Sunday. How did he survive it? He laughs. “It’s not a question of survival, but of living seriously. I never thought, “What interests me is outside; it’s a pity I have so little time to spare.” Being there was total. So, in the evening, when it got late, I would go to get food for everybody, to take my break while talking. And someone would ask about your friends, what you do at home, or what you think of the poor in the Third World, and you answer… that you do charity work Sundays with some kids; you speak of what’s dearest to you. Then you invite him home to eat Italian.” In this way, unexpected relationships sprang up, and this is how the community in Los Angeles was born-without inventing anything, without making speeches.

This was the case with Jennifer. Mauro got to know her at a wedding and he invited her home for lunch. She told him of her difficult situation, being divorced with two children. They offered her company. When he can, Guido crosses the city to help the children with their schoolwork. They invited her to School of Community, but who would stay at home with the kids? She can’t afford a babysitter. They take turns babysitting so that she can go. When the problem of changing schools comes up, and Jennifer cannot afford it, Guido called his friends in the Fraternity in Italy, asking if they could help out. Now there is a bridge linking Milan and Los Angeles. Jennifer writes to Laura, telling her about her children, the School of Community, the difficulties in her job… about her life. Why would you do all this, if not out of recognition of a Presence that touches life’s circumstances? And it changes life. This is also the case with Brenda, whom Mauro got to know at work and invited to School of Community. “She is an astrophysicist who struck our friend Marco Bersanelli in Liege, Belgium, because of the way she approached her work.” [See Traces, Vol. 10, No. 7 (September) 2008.] The parish priest, Fr. Roddy, in contrast, was rather doubtful about these Italians. One day, they threw him an invitation: “Why don’t you come on vacation with us?” He has been with us ever since because, “at the age of 70, the encounter with the Movement helped me rediscover the origin of my vocation.” Then, there is Nancy. “I met her at Disney,” Guido tells us. Another change of job? “In Italy, you are not accustomed to it, but in America this turnover is quite normal. In the case of my firm, they went bankrupt.” Nancy was a Protestant. She and Guido became friends, and after three years she came to a gesture of the Movement, the charitable work. After another year, she attended the School of Community for the first time. Last April, she became a Catholic. “In the past, I thought I was the author of my destiny, but now I live rooted in an Other,” she commented, some days later.

 

From bonfires to surfing

It was the pastor of San Sebastian Parish who invited Claudia. She is from Salvador, and she escaped from there during the ’80s because of the civil war. “There is a group of Italians who get together every Wednesday; why don’t you go to meet them?” Along with her husband, Edwino, she came one Wednesday. These Italians are different: they use words like Mystery, reason, Fr. Giussani. These new friends from Salvador have never left us since: “It was impossible to stay away. The desire to come back to them was to come back to that Presence that was beginning to reveal itself in our lives,” Claudia wrote.

After a few years, there are now two houses of Memores Domini and the encounters have multiplied-with Beth, Paul, Christine, and many others, people you meet at a party, at work, or in a thousand other circumstances of life. “You invite them to eat, to your home, to a bonfire on the beach, or to go surfing. Los Angeles is the city of the ephemeral, of appearances. You can either stop short at a moralistic contempt or you can embrace these appearances in an encounter. Then, since we have the finest beaches in the world, why shouldn’t we enjoy them?” Right you are, Guido!

How did things turn out at Disney? “I quit.” And now? “That is another adventure.” He laughs and even his eyes are smiling-as if embracing the world.

 

Faith and Science: Lorenzo Albacete vs Christopher Hitchens

The John Templeton Foundation sponsored a debate between a priest and an atheist at New York’s Pierre Hotel September 23rd. The pair tried to answer the question “Does science make believe in God obsolete?”

The follow up to the debate can be found here.

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.

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]yahoo.com.
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