Winter 2004

Funeral Homily for Msgr. Luigi Giussani

Joseph Ratzinger Benedict XVI

Dear brother bishops, my dear brother priests: “upon seeing Jesus, the disciples rejoiced.” These words from today’s Gospel show us the center of the per- sonality and life of our dear Don Giussani.

Father Giussani grew up in a house that was—to use his words— poor in bread but rich in music, so that from the very beginning he was touched, or, better, wounded, by the desire for beauty. He was not satisfied, however, with just any ordinary beauty, with beauty however banal; he sought rather Beauty itself, infinite Beauty, and thus he found Christ. In Christ he found true beauty, the path of life, true joy.

Already as a boy, together with other youths, he started a community by the name of Studium Christi. Their plan was to speak of nothing but Christ, because everything else seemed to be a waste of time. Later, of course, he was to overcome this one-sided- ness, but the substance for him would always remain the same: only Christ gives meaning to the rest of our life. Fr. Giussani kept the gaze of his life, of his heart, always fixed on Christ. It was in this way that he understood that Christianity is not an intellectual system, a collection of dogmas, or moralism. Christianity is instead an encounter, a love story; it is an event.

This love affair with Christ, this love  story  that  was  the  whole  of Giussani’s life, was at the same time quite far removed from any superficial enthusiasm or vague romanticism. Seeing Christ, Giussani truly knew that to encounter Christ means to follow him. This encounter is a road, a journey, a journey that also passes— as we heard in the psalm—through the “valley of darkness.” In the Gospel we heard of the final darkness of Christ’s suffering, of the seeming ab- sence of God, of the eclipse of the Sun of the world. Giussani knew that to follow means to pass through a “valley of darkness,” to take the Way of the Cross, and all the while to live in true joy.

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