Rorate Caeli

ARCHBISHOP LUIGI NEGRI – Our certainty is this: Christ is with us

a lenten meditation

The Lenten journey has to be made by men who have their hearts filled with one certainty. This certainty, which reconciles with everyday existence, is that Christ is with us: in a close embrace, an embrace that no human or supernatural power can ever loosen.

Life then is not an individual running around in search of reality; it is not a determination to express one’s needs and intentions the most adequate way possible. Life is a gift that is given every day by the grace of Christ present in His Church.

Therefore our prime Lenten approach is that of submission to this certainty: living this reality. The reality of life is not that of taking off by ourselves into the world in the effort to conquest goodness knows what;  life is a gift, bestowed on us, which we have to embrace with all the power of understanding and love we have in our hearts. This certainty – that if Christ is with us nobody can be against us – is the intellectual and moral foundation – but I’d like to say even the psychological and emotional foundation – of the Christian life.

The Christian life is a life given over to Christ, submitted to His will, since it is through the will of Christ embraced and loved, that that strength of spirit which  revived the existence of Christ is made manifest in us and will also revive our existence, day after day. Life then is a grace of the faith, precisely in the sense that only the faith allows us to delve into the origins of life and disposes us to live life as a journey with Christ, and following Christ, so that His promises are fulfilled in us.

This certainty and this question shape the precious warp and weft of everyday life in Lenten days; they shape that precious warp and weft which revives or always gives new meaning to pious practices i.e. practices of charity: the capacity to open our lives to our brothers, who form the precious pearls of Christian life, particularly as we journey through Lent.     

We want to see our life of faith spring forth every day; we want to see that our life starts here, that it is revived here, with the recognition that Christ is present. And to receive a purpose, the same purpose that Christ had for His entire life: the mission. To serve the Kingdom. To render it present in the hearts of men, so that, invested in the Kingdom, each man may become for every brother, a witness and communicator of new life.  

New life that is given to us not for instinctive and individualistic pleasure, but that our lives are at the service of the Kingdom of God, which draws near. That Kingdom of God, Iacopone da Todi  refers to, which “satisfies every feast [joy] that the heart has craved.”

Lent therefore, is a journey, a journey with Christ and following Christ, so that newness of life matures in us, transforms our existence, revives our intelligence and hearts disposing us to be part of the great mission of the Church. Our life is not for our self, it is for the Lord.  And it is so for each man who lives alongside us, may it be that through our presence and witness, all our brothers – this is our desire – may be invested by the power of Christ and, with our help and testimony, respond with all their intelligence and liberty.  

It is a good and constructive journey. During the life of Lent, the virtue – homo viator – is condensed; the virtue that renders Christian existence capable of creativity, precisely because it is abandoned to the will of Christ; and the most profound element of this creativity is peace. The Christian who lives a life abandoned to Christ becomes a peace-.maker in the world and this peace dictates the rhythms of new human life and a new society. Upon peace, the countenance of God’s world which becomes our world, is built.  

Monsignor Luigi Negri
 Archbishop Emeritus of  Ferrara-Comacchio

Translation:  Contributor Francesca Romana