Catechisms of Fr. Stefano Aragno
I have asked the Holy Spirit to make me a poor and fragile instrument in his hands, in order to transmit to all of you what he desires to say, and I am very happy for the Holy Spirit has answered my question. Actually, without even being aware of it, Elvira has already said something that I have been wishing to say from the bottom of my heart, i.e. the Holy Spirit is the new creation and the origin of a beautiful love story, which is our life. I am very happy to be able to announce this to all of you, because I am sure that this is what God wants to say to us today. Two days ago, I woke up with a thought in my mind and I said to myself: “ Stefano, go and read again what the Pope said in Rome to the thousands and thousands of people that showed up to pray with him at the Pentecost Vigil. At that time in Rome there was also a small group from the Community, representing a small, new and joyful Community in the Church, which is what we are. So I went to read again what the Pope had said, which for us is like the words of a father to his family. Our Community is not a place of recovery for addicts, nor is it a social service. It is a Church, a place where we encounter the love of God. It is not a community that gives Methadone, a place where you bring a desperate child and they hand you a pamphlet so that you can learn the affects of the drugs he/she is taking. No, the Community is the family of God. As Elvira says, the Community is a place where we all arrive destructed and suffering at first: On this hill there lie 23 years of crosses, of pain, of blood and loss…whoever arrives at this gate finds God and his Mercy, not a doctor nor a psychiatrist. During the Bishops Synod in Rome Elvira said that there is no pill that can give you the joy of living, no methadone to give you the hope of a new life. A medical cure doesn’t exist, by itself, that can finally make you embrace your life, and see it as a gift from God. The first thing that I want to tell you is simple, but really true. The Pope put it this way, which is special for us: Our Community is not called Cenacolo by chance. None of us is named by accident, because in a name there lies the identity of a person; If the Holy Spirit has inspired Elvira to name our Community Cenacolo, it is an evident sign that the Holy Spirit is alive and present, where there is Mary there is a New Nazareth…God enters into the story. Wherever Mary is with the Church, there is also the Holy Spirit, who transforms our lives. The Pope said: “The Pentecost, Mary with the Apostles, is not only the origin of the Church, but it is also a feast of the creation”. It is a world, transformed by the Holy Spirit who cleans out all of the filthiness accumulated in our lives. It is the celebration of a new creation. The Cenacolo Community is the celebration of a reborn life. It is the feast of a creation that after having become loss, anger, tears, vengeance and guilt, through the Mercy of God has become smile, joy, light; the light that we have in our eyes today, after just some months of Community, the light which your families are experimenting after years of darkness; you look inside yourselves and you feel that finally there is a new creation that is starting to live again. It makes me think of Gilberto’s song. Gilberto is a guy who had discovered the new creation here in Community Cenacolo, after 25 years of drugs. Speaking of this song, which is about the life that he had found again, he writes: “Here in the Cenacolo Community, my life has become like that of a child who opens his eyes to the world”. Behold the Feast of a new creation: it means to become a kid again; as written in the song, finally the fog is taken away from your eyes and a new creation appears all around you and inside of you. Your eyes are opened to the world again, you come back to life, you discover the beauty of feeling like a child, reborn, resurrected, and alive. I am always astonished by the discovery of the life that you can see in a child. Kids put something in their mouth because they want to know what it is. Then there is the time of questioning. The astonishment of a discovery lives inside of us. We need this because inside of everyone of us we carry the image of God, which is the beauty of creation, which we slowly discover while we grow, see, observe, and ask. One day, I was in our missions in Brazil, and one of the Uncles was inspired to let the children watch a film. It was a Christian film on how life was born. There were real images of things that we don’t see or know. We know how babies grow inside, how life begins, and these children of our missions, that were on the streets, abandoned and orphaned, betrayed and unloved, looking at this miracle of life, were able to understand that also their lives are miracles, even though they were abandoned by their parents. We saw the race of male spermatozoon in the female uterus (the concept of being the first to win the race in order to enter and fertilize the ovule, and create new life). After seeing this miracle of life , one child in particular ran out of the room, and with his eyes full of light, as one who just opens his eyes to the world, exclaimed: “Uncle, I am a winner! I am the son of victory in the race of life!” Yes, he had understood that he is the fruit of just one seed, that created him individual and unrepeatable. We are all individual and unrepeatable, among thousands and thousands, you are the only you! “I am a child of God that runs, and gives life”. This is the astonishment of creation. We are all children of love, children of the victory of life. Listen to what the Pope has to say to everyone of us: “…We have contemplated the splendor of creation, but during our lives, God’s good creation has been covered by a massive layer of filth, which makes it difficult to discover in its being, the reflection of our Creator”. It is so true! All this makes it almost impossible to see the precious gift of life. Looking at my life and that of the others, I am always amazed by what Elvira says, i.e. from the moment of conception until the age of 6 or 7, we are like a child who is discovering the world, and during that period of time, we can discover it in its beauty or remain disappointed. I am shocked at how many profound wounds begin since the level of creation. Which wounds are these? Let’s imagine ourselves as babies, as little children…we are discovering the world, we trust those people who are our parents, and the world keeps spinning. As a baby I trust in the world, because when I come into the light, I am clean and transparent; what happens at a certain point? The people whom you saw as the reflection of God’s good creation, disappoint you, hurt you. So you are wounded, alone, abandoned, sad. These are wounds that make us bleed a lot inside. When we listen to your children, we see that they are the confirmation of just how decisive God’s good creation is during the first years of life, because every time they tell us their stories they start from the time they were babies, little children…and not just off the top of their heads. How many wounds there are in a child who discovers, after being conceived, that he is not the fruit of a true love; During the first months of the pregnancy, that child has felt unwanted, unloved, and is afraid of being refused. Wounds come from a violence sometimes used from those people who should have revealed you the appearance of God’s good creation. Or sometimes wound originate for the absence of these people, for the absence of parents. Instead of asking questions to your mother or father, you asked all of your questions to a wall, a bed, or to your dolls…because your parents weren’t there. Or also there exists the very profound wound of a child that feels to be the cause of violence and division in the family: and this wound is a load that a child carries everywhere. This provokes a break in our lives, an abyss. The loss of trust in those references which were God’s good creation. So it happens that you refuse your life, reject your body. How many young people today reject their actual bodies. They don’t love or respect themselves because they reject life. They reject the story, the blood, the body, because they blame themselves. They blame creation and those who have created them, In the end they blame God: “Why did you give me life if life is just a disgusting misery?”, and so what happens next? escape and anger. You escape, you run away from home, like the Prodigal Son. You go because that place called “home” has betrayed you. You, who have come out of your mothers womb to discover the beauty of life, have been wounded…and so you escape. You go and throw your life into all of the filthiness that the world has to offer. You escape from a suffering and you jump into the mud, which makes you even more filthy. You are angry with yourself, you hate yourself, you want to hurt yourself, you even want to kill yourself. And through all this, taking revenge on those people who deep down didn’t know to love you the way that you desired. We escape God’s good creation. We escape obedience. You don’t want to listen to anyone anymore and you think that since your parents weren’t reliable, neither is God, and so you go. You no longer trust anyone or anything, and you want to live your “freedom” and to decide everything for your life. Listen to something else the Pope said that day just for us: “When you want to take possession of your life, when you believe that you are becoming free by becoming the “owner” of your life, this is when life just becomes emptier, poorer”. Let’s think of ourselves: always emptier and poorer. We easily end by finding our refuge in the drug, the grand illusion. Evil waits for you at the opening, like it waited for Adam and Eve, who were doubtful about God’s good creation. Evil is always ready to deceive us and make us collapse, fall deeper into the grand illusion: “…Take it and everything will pass”. In a flash you’re back to your artificial paradise, you don’t suffer anymore, you don’t feel anything anymore, you are dazed, you “travel” from here to there, you no longer feel your body or the weight of life, you are “free”... No, actually you’re in a big soap bubble, and as soon as it pops…it makes you feel naked, it makes you crawl on the ground like a worm: you disgust yourself! Listen to something else the Pope has to say: “ In the very moment you fall into the grand illusion, what happens? The doubts emerge from your hearts, about whether or not living is really a good thing…evil places you in suspicion”. Life is an honor… Its not worth living like this and you ask yourself: “Why do I exist if I have to live like this?”. You doubt that life is really what it seemed to be when you were a child…the astonishment, when you touched everything, put things in your mouth…the discovery ect. Your life has turned against you and has wounded you. The good creation has become a dagger in your heart. It would seem that we are anguished! What happens? What do we do? Think about when you first discovered that your daughter or son was taking drugs. When everything crumbled you felt like falling to the ground. You parents have also asked “Life, why? Mine as a parent, his as a child? Why?” There seems to be no hope after the creation has been corrupted and wounded, when the great escape begins into the grand illusion…but it’s not like this. For us it has not ended like this, because our God does not come up short for the good creation. Our God is the God of Life. The Pope said something else during the Pentecost Vigil: “ The Spirit of the Creator comes and helps us once again”. Boys and girls…parents…if we are still here, if we are still alive today, it is because the Spirit of the Creator has come to be a great help to us. The Pope says: “ He enters again into the story, and He speaks to us in a new way”. Do you know what the new way is in which God speaks to us? It is a life that was born into Mary’s womb. A new creation, a race of the seeds of God, which first fertilized the ovule in Mary’s womb, then, right there in that moment…God’s heart began to beat. The Holy Spirit enters into our story, making himself the life of our lives. He becomes flesh on the cross for entering into our plagues, which have made our creation filthy, which have wounded us, which have crowned us with thorns and made us bleed from when we are children to adulthood. Our God speaks to us by becoming man. This is the strength of the Christian faith, the only faith of such a huge strength. God becomes man, God comes to us, God becomes a Son, God becomes our life, our story, our wounds, God becomes our salvation. So this is God’s promise. The same God whom you have all accused, pointed your fingers at, you have all said many times: “You threw me into this world and then went and washed you hands clean! They told me the life was a gift, but it’s a misery. Where are you God! What kind of a Father are you!”. This God by becoming man enters into your story…as Love, as a life that begins to beat. The great joy that our couples have when they discover that they are expecting a baby, is not in seeing the photo of the baby, but in the wonder of hearing and feeling the heartbeat of the baby. That little baby in Mary’s womb, God’s heart that is beating. The child in your womb, is a beating heart, he is not a mass of dead cells, he is a life that is beating, a heart that is living, the sign of God that enters into the story, with the strength of life. It’s not important if he corrupts it later, because God has entered into his life, and he makes our life clean again, today. Listen to the words that the Pope uses to explain the entrance of God into the story: “The mysterious God, the same God who you have blamed, as if he threw you into life one day without asking you the permission to live, as if he just left you there and went away. That mysterious God is not an infinite solitude,… he is an event of Love. The Holy Spirit enters and fertilizes that young girl of Nazareth. The Holy Spirit is Love that becomes Life, so that you can relive the new creation”. Also you, Like Gilberto after 25 years of drugs, by encountering the Holy Spirit who becomes Life, who is called Jesus of Nazareth, by looking him in the eyes, not by learning and knowing with your head, but by letting your heart beat through the prayer and knowing him in a relationship of Love, you go back to being that child who rediscovers the beauty of life. This is the experience that we have: You notice, after just one month of Community, that there is a boy, who gets out of bed in the morning and starts to hum. You find him at the window looking out at the miracle of the sunrise, and he is astonished. For years he never even took recognition of the new creation, he had lost it. By encountering the Love of God, which he still doesn’t know, but rather feels through the love of this Community who believes in the God of Life, this young boy starts to see Life, he starts to see creation. For us, this is the day that we return home. We have escaped from our home, from the good creation, we have judged our Father, our Mother, our Brothers and Sisters. God says to you today: “Finally, you have come back home. You have come back to rest your ear on the heart of your true Father”. One day while I was walking along the streets in Mexico, a little boy (who lived under the bridges with many others) came towards me, and he hugged me…for about 2 or 3 minutes like this, leaning his head on my chest with his ear on my heart. He hugged me like this to listen to my heartbeat. During my trip back from Mexico, I discovered something new while reading a magazine, in an article written by a doctor: When babies first come to light, they cry, but it’s not because they just put their heads out and discover the world, they cry because they can’t perceive the Mother’s heartbeat anymore. After coming out, they no longer hear the heartbeat that has accompanied them for 9 months, and they feel lost, so they cry. But then, when they lay the baby on the mother’s breast, he curls up there and begins to eat, and he hears the beating of his Mother’s heart, which he had lost for a moment. Losing God’s Heartbeat…means: to cry, to lose life, to be alone in a world that hurts you. The Cenacolo Community is the beginning of a new creation. You don’t realize it at first, you don’t know when you enter …but this is a part of God’s Heart that is beating. Lean your ear on the heart of your Father, who has given you life as a miracle of Love. Lean on him, in Adoration, in the Sacrament of Confession, in the Eucharist. Return there, and you will feel loved, embraced, at home.