Returning to the House of the Father

By Luigi Giussani and Giovanni Testori, 21 December 2021
A nativity scene is seen during Advent at St Patrick's Church, part of Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown. Image: Diocese of Parramatta


The truth is that man today does not say it—maybe he is afraid to say it—but he feels a terrible nostalgia to return home to the house of the Father. And then the Mother is there, with Christ, to form the shelter, the home, the Church. From there, as I said before, I think that man can begin a total rediscovery.

For us “children” that rediscovery can only pass through Mary, through the Mother—a fact that we Christians have forgotten or even become ashamed of. Just think: we are ashamed of her, our Mother. After all, we have forgotten and are also ashamed of Christmas. Instead, this is the moment when desperate man needs to rediscover Christmas, to rediscover his own birth. To give up or forget the liturgy is a tremendous sin.

We do not fully grasp what the liturgy means, consciously and unconsciously, as it is carried out and participated in—the liturgy in which the community lives. It is something beyond what we can see and know historically. I am referring to the diffusion of grace that is in the liturgy of the Church. It is a great fault to have forgotten it and somehow restricted these moments of grace.

To return to Christmas—which in the liturgy is the moment of grace par excellence—the moment of the birth of Christ—man does not desire this. He leaves his house because it is no longer a home, because it has been desecrated, reduced to nothing. He may build a more decent house, but they have taken from him the memory of that other home—I mean, the shelter, the home—the absolute home of our history: the Church.

This, instead, is the moment in which man cries in nostalgia to have his own true home again and to travel and find again in its depths the true and proper Christmas: the birth of Christ. I think that these moments—because they are more humble, more heartbroken, more threatened by rhetoric and risk—are also those that must be recovered whole and entire; they must be recovered and made present again—in front of the groan, the cry, the desperation, the madness of modern man.

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This is an excerpt is from The Mystery of Birth by Luigi Giussani and Giovanni Testori. The book is an edited transcription of a conversation between the two men–one, a priest and founder of the lay movement, Communion and Liberation, and the other a Milanese novelist, playwright, art historian, and essayist. Published in cooperation with and by permission from Slant Books, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

With thanks to Church Life Journal, A Journal of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, and John Cavadini, where this article originally appeared.


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