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Love, distance, communion

01 Feb 2019

Each of us is convinced that it is impossible to love someone without being close to him or her. The lover, by definition, experiences a continuous tension that pushes him to seek the beloved. The Latin poet Tito Lucrezio Caro, in his De rerum natura, sketches this characteristic of love in a masterly way, referring to the carnal union of the two lovers. In the highest expression of physical love, both seek to “lose themselves in the other body with one’s whole body” (RN IV, 1095). A desire for fusion that cannot be fulfilled and therefore is continually reactivated. On the other hand, even the forms of love that do not find expression in the union of bodies, like the affection that is felt towards parents and friends, require a certain proximity to be able to keep alive. This is where one of the most recurrent objections to the religious life undertaken by the novice arises. An objection that is often put forward by parents: “how can you say you love us, if you have chosen to live a life away from us?”. Such a criticism could be put forward also by dearest friends and by the people met during the apostolic experiences that put us in contact with the young and the poor. Our formation needs do not allow us to establish lasting links with them. And yet it is possible to live a form of communion even in distance. Intercessory prayer fills this distance by filling it with love. The request for concrete benefits in favour of those for whom the prayer is intended does not exhaust its significance. What is more vital than anything else in this type of plea is to perceive upon ourselves and others the merciful grace of the Father who with his embrace of love transforms us into one (Jn 17:20). This prayer helps us to regain unity despite living in dispersion and teaches us the mystery of love between God and us, where love, distance and communion co-exist.

Advent time: so what?

by Fr. Agostino Caletti – Novice Master

Advent: what does it mean? I make a click and I find one of the many definitions: arrival, coming (already announced). In the Christian tradition, it is the time of four weeks that prepares for Christmas, that is, it evokes, through readings and liturgies, the announcement and the waiting for a saviour. But what does all this have to say to us in the time we live? Certainly our greatest expectation seems to be that the virus will be defeated and we can go back to living as before. But perhaps this time has much more to transmit to us; perhaps it can take us to new horizons. In what way?

One day a person tells me that he feels a bit compressed, because he is used to living life as if he were in a moving car. Now we have to park, get out and try to make those usual routes on foot. You can observe so many things when doing small steps. What a different immersion in reality, which you can finally notice, without running through it. Landscapes; people; different routes; the existence of the poor around us…

This is what Advent opens us up to this year! Taking advantage of this forced slowdown, to give space to what we are living with haste and almost without value any more: time to observe; time to reflect; time for a conversation without a watch in hand; time to give. And, why not, time for a simple daily prayer in which to tell the Lord what I have lived through the day; what the expectations and desires of the heart were today. Perhaps no different from the characters I will find, taking the daily readings of Advent time.

Let us not waste these weeks! Let us not make them just an antechamber of Christmas, but an opportunity to let today’s time speak and to remind ourselves that ours is the God with us.

2020-11-29 Fr. Agostino Caletti

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