Conversation on Christianity and the future (7 December 2018 (Festa di Sant’Ambrogio).


In 1977 Jean Delumeau published an essay entitled Christianity is about to die? Closer to us, René Rémeond: “Christianity suffers today of a kind of discredit”. I would say that in a certain sense this situation is due to the very nature of the historical covering of Jesus’ message and its transmission over time: its founder dies on the cross; the first apostles were neither thinkers nor strategists; the Church has known heresies, divisions, scandals. It is therefore inevitable that a sensible observer asks the question of the existence and duration of such a religious group. How many times has the Church been buried: Nietzsche has declared that “the time of the religions is finished, God is dead”. The totalitarianisms of the last century have not said anything else. In France, a hundred years ago, Jules Ferry, at the question of Jaurès on the deep objective of his policy, replied: “My goal is to organize humanity without God”. Sociologists and some thinkers were pleased to describe the Christianity of tomorrow without youth, divided, undermined by the withdrawal of identity, which succumbed under the blows of a ram of the new accommodating religions or old and new forms of disbelief and atheism.

It is also inevitable to note that the heart of Christianity has gradually moved from the north to the south. Some forecasts envisage for the year 2025 – assuming that the conversion rate does not vary substantially – 2 billion 600 million Christians, of which 663 million in Africa, 640 in Latin America, 555 in Europe, 460 in Asia (Europe is in third position). In 2050 one fifth of the three billion Christians will be made up of non-Hispanic colored people.

There is no doubt that so few young Westerners have regular contact with the Churches: a large number of children grow up without ever opening a Bible, without knowing the Christian rites, without knowing that we can pray to God. We should also mention the decrease the number of priests, the decline in religious practice, the difficulty of transmitting the faith in a more accessible language, etc.

Yet, the religious phenomenon is far from disappearing. Christians have not given up their task. This Christianity, some of which foresaw the disappearance – I think of that courageous municipal official of Valence who, after having found, on 29 August 1799, the death “of the said Giannangelo Braschi, who practiced the profession of Pope (Pius VI)”, sent the his report in Paris, announcing that the newly-dead Pope was surely the last in history – yes, this dying Christianity shows a surprising vitality and reserves many surprises. One evening in October 1978 he was the archbishop of Krakow, in the heart of “marxist” central Europe who was called to occupy the chair of Peter! In truth, Christianity still has much to say. Our word is expected even if it is not taken as a point of reference. Our testimony challenges us. It is impressive to note that at the center of this new world that we see unfolding, without knowing what it will be, all – believers and non-believers, optimists and pessimists – we are forced to ask the fundamental questions, we are condemned to ask the essential questions. It is the grace of our time! In an article in the magazine “Esprit”, dated February 1966, entitled Prospective et Utopias, Prévision économique et choix éthique, Paul Ricoeur observed that modern man faced four questions, those of autonomy, of desire, of power and of non-sense. : today’s man does not want to be accountable to anyone, he refuses to be a creature, he is the triumph of individualism; to the extent that all his basic needs are met (for the lucky ones!), he enters the world of caprice and arbitrariness: “I want everything and I want it now!”, it is craving; the conflict between nations, having only rights without any duty, make the most arrogant, the strongest, impose its law; “more, immediately” yes, but to what end? Can one live without reference points or goals? Everything seems to become insignificant: work, sexuality, leisure. Any priest who receives the confidences of his companions in humanity knows the extent of this “disenchantment”: one dreamed of being free and one awakens slaves. Christianity offers answers: justice, charity and solidarity, sobriety as a style of life, the infinite as the continuity of history.

Here is a world that organizes itself and projects itself without God. Well, with Karl Rahner we say that “man does not exist as a man except when, at least as a question that he denies and is denied, he says” God “” (Basic course on Wedding ring).

What worries me is to know if Christians they are aware of the treasure that represents their faith, if their pastors offer them the appropriate means to be able to give an account of the hope that is in them (cf. First Letter of Peter 3, 15), if they have the courage to affirm themselves different .

Well, the articles published by “La Croix” inform us well about the efforts made by Catholics, faithful and pastors, so that the Church that we are is a sign (sacrament) of He who “came for men to have life and have it in abundance “(John 10, 10). The concern of prayer and theological formation, the efforts made in view of a more incisive catechesis, a more refined sense of the Church, are all elements that lead us to think that the need for a certain interiority is being rediscovered. On the other hand, only in Christianity are many volunteers working to alleviate situations of hardship. Having said that, taking up the expression of a British sociologist (Grace Davie), I have the impression that European Christians are part of those believers who live certain aspects of faith, outside of any connection with their Church (believing without belonging). : believe without belonging to the community).

So, how should we look to the future? With serenity, since it is our future. Of course, we are a minority, but an operating minority and Christian values ​​underlie numerous secular “convictions”: the dignity of the human person, freedom, solidarity, respect for nature, all values ​​that have their roots in Christian humus.

Christianity is also creative: new communities, schools of faith, initiatives of all kinds to serve others. We must not forget that the Catholic Church is the only institution capable of convening and gathering so many young people. This will mean something!

The liturgy, well prepared and celebrated, is undoubtedly the most visible manifestation of the presence of God at the center of society: the church-building itself already reminds us that man does not live by bread alone. The real city, said Giorgio La Pira is “the one in which men have their home and in which God has his home”. A world that was only the world of work and production and that was not also the world of liturgy would be unlivable.

I would like to quote the letter to Sila di Silvano Fausti:

Being with him with the heart: prayer

Be with him first of all with the heart, firmly fixed in him. Where your treasure is, let your heart be also (Lk 12.34).

Your first occupation is perseverance in prayer, as the apostles always did, before and after Pentecost (Acts 1: 14, 6: 4). Prayer is the breath of faith. Cultivate it as a first thing. The desire of it always remains; but it also translates into reality. Otherwise there will remain only an unrealistic and frustrating need. Your prayer may also be difficult, distracted and desolate. This will be because of your sins and your carelessness, which have made you fall down. But go ahead, and come back with confidence and perseverance. You need training. The Lord is near you and encourages you. When you are dry, instead of quitting, spend more time. Do not be angry because the Lord is slow to answer (Lk 18,

Know that prayer is the principal apostolic means. That is why he is always fighting with me in it (Rom 15, 30, Col 4:12). From a night of struggle with the Lord Israel was born (Gn 32). From the nocturnal prayer of Jesus the new Israel was born (Lk 6, 12 ff.). Moreover a single man with his arms raised – Aronne and Cur supported them – can win a whole army of enemies (Ex 17,8 ss)

Be with him with ears and eyes:

reading and contemplation of the Word. Be with him, as well as with the heart, with the ears and the eyes, that go where the heart leads. Love desires to know and to see. The word that tells us the story of Jesus is for us his flesh, the norm of faith and the supreme criterion of spiritual discernment. Otherwise we invent a God made to measure of our religious fantasies (Eph 4:20, 1 Jn 4, 2), and we believe not in him, but in our ideas about him.

We have no image of God and we must not do any of it. We know him through his revelation to Israel and the story of Jesus, in which the fullness of divinity dwells bodily (Col 2: 9).

Therefore, always read the Scriptures, to know the Word of which you are servant to your salvation and to the brothers. It is your specific profession of apostle (Lk 1: 2, Acts 6: 4).

Always read with amazement and thanksgiving. The Word will be light for your eyes, honey for your mouth and joy for your heart (Ps 19, 9.11; 119,103,111). Read and amaze; convert and rejoice; discern and choose, then act.

Being with him with his feet:

follow him in a life that conforms to his. Be with him with his feet, who walk his own way. The desire to walk as he has walked (1 Jn 2: 6) is the hope that moves your life to conform to his. Prefer and choose what he has preferred and chosen, to be closer to him and to resemble him more perfectly. He loves poverty, humiliation and humility, his insignificance, his littleness, his chastity and his obedience. By hating what the world loves and loving what the world hates, you will heal from the perverse judgment that makes you do evil as well and escape from good as if it were bad.

Be with him with your hands:

touch it and join him. God is not the object of your intelligence, which only reflects its image. Instead it is the object of your love, which unites you directly to him.

Love him, and your life will be transformed into his – and you can say that it is no longer you who live, but he who lives in you (Gal 2:20). My dear, the apostolic life presupposes both a cenobitic life, to live in communion with the brothers, and a hermit life, to live in solitude with him. Only after you are qualified to be an apostle, sent to all the brothers in his name. If you can not be with your brothers and you can not be with him, you can not be his apostle.

What future for CSP in the Church?

“A blessed minority, which is invited again to leaven, to rise in tune with what the Holy Spirit has inspired in the hearts of your founders and in the heart of yourselves. This is what it takes today ”

“Go to the borders to meet with the Lord, to renew the mission of the origins, in the Galilee of the first meeting, return to Galilee at the first meeting! And this will do all of us well, it will make us grow, it will make us multitudes. The confusion that our Father Abraham had come to mind now: “Then he led him out and said,” Look at the sky and count the stars if you can count them. ” And he added: “This will be your descendants.” He believed the LORD, who counted this as justice “Genesis 15, (5-7).

The Pauline must look for the crossroads, the places where people pass by. Education, Health, Tourism, Sanctuaries … etc. ..Eucharistic life. Jesus is with us, every day, always available. Is alive! It has risen! In the heart of the Eucharist. Resurrection and the Eucharist will be the center of our spirituality.

The Holy Scripture in the heart.

The presence of Mary in the spirituality of the Society is another force. Where there is Mary, there is always tenderness that helps fragility and grants strength. Mary draws us to the breeze of the Holy Spirit.

The only wealth of the Compagnia di San Paolo is Providence. It concerns the light of God that accompanies us in this difficult time. Only God can give the future.

Signs of catholicity and universality. There is also a challenge in the use of new technologies to evangelize, to put “the Church’s attention and presence in the world.

The Society is a “faithful remnant”, a remnant that is going through a trial in the midst of a great tribulation. Feeling “poor” in the hands of God, feeling the wind of the Spirit that guides.Resume the sobriety and silence of Nazareth. Climb to the top of Tabor to contemplate the light of the Transfiguration, and resume the passion, the enthusiasm of the fishermen of Lake Tiberias.

We must give up the pessimists, those who never choose, the resigned ones who do not expect anything. These are not good for the company. They do not serve the Company. It is necessary to have the courage to take off. “When a person is not convinced he does not convince, he confuses he is away”