Christ Pantocrator, Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai

Contributions from the Fraternity Exercises

Some testimonies from friends of our community on what they experienced at the Fraternity Spiritual Exercises entitled "Christ, Life of Life".

I am a graduate student in neuroscience and, for years, have experienced profound dissatisfaction with scientific work and a desire to be more directly serving others. But through the School of Community and certain friendships, I am slowly discovering that my joy is in obeying to the circumstance in which He has placed me. Right before the Exercises, however, I received an offer of a job in academia after my doctorate. I had a sense the Lord was asking this of me - that amid a world torn by violence and need, His plan was for me to continue working in science. So I brought a burning question to the Exercises: “Faced with this sacrifice, how can I live?”
From the first evening, Fr. Lepori’s words were like a breath of new life. I felt as though he were speaking directly to me, reminding me of the path I have been on since my reversion to the faith: a path of falling in love with One Who shows me His beauty everywhere. He is the one thing necessary. This memory freed me from my sense of suffocation, because I could look at my urgent desires and ask Christ to show me again that He is the answer to them.
I am not alone on this path. Even though I knew almost nobody when I arrived, throughout the weekend, I encountered men and women whose hearts are living spaces of verification that Christ is all. I left the Exercises aware that it is the Lord - through the charism of Fr. Giussani, through the Church - Who is leading me to greater maturity.
Since the Exercises, I have had a new peace. I accepted the job offer, begging Christ to use this sacrifice for His glory. And at a happy hour for my lab, I found myself freer in conversation with my colleagues because of the memory that it is not the right opinions, or success at work, or anything but Christ that will satisfy their hearts. And I have found Him, I belong to Him.
Sofia, Cambridge

For me, the Exercises were extremely clear about one question: Who is the love of my life? It is a simple and direct question that allows for no lies or turns of phrase. It strikes me because it has nontrivial implications for how we understand our togetherness, which is where the greatest ambiguities lie. We often understand our “companionship” as a coming together among ourselves to help each other, to think and organize nice gestures together, as a place where we feel less alone and where we perceive human warmth. Instead, Father Lepori has turned the tables. Unity comes from the extent to which I attach myself to the love of my life. And just as I can, so can you, and so by grace we are put together on this long and beautiful road, just as Lazarus, Martha, and Mary were. They discovered that they were more united because they had each made his or her own personal journey. And they constantly called each other back to it. This is true companionship.
I am reminded of what Carrón picked up on at the 2013 Beginning Day, quoting Fr. Giussani: “There is nothing culturally more revolutionary than this conception of the person, whose meaning, whose substance is unity with Christ, with an Other, and through this, a unity with all those whom He seizes, with all those whom the Father puts into His hands.”
Giacomo, London