Luigi Giussani on the “Religious Sense” and the Cultural Situation of Our TimeDavid L. Schindler
“In the experience of a great love, all that happens becomes an event inside that love” (Romano Guardini). These words cited by Luigi Giussani provide the proper context for understanding what Giussani means when he insists that “the Christian fact is totalizing.” The present article sketches the main elements of Giussani’s argument as set forth in his book, The Religious Sense,1 and highlights the significance of the argument for our current cultural situation.
Reasonableness and Freedom
Reason and freedom reveal their full reality only in “the radical engagement of the self with life, an involvement which exemplifies itself in [questions about the ultimate meaning of existence, of pain and death]” (45). Reason and freedom, therefore, are indissolubly bound up with “the religious sense,” which is just this restlessness for ultimacy or totality—that is, for infinity. Hence Giussani (re-)defines reason and freedom as essentially dramatic, drama being understood as the encounter of the infinite with the finite occurring at the heart of the finite. The most reasonable and the freest persons are those most passionately engaged with all things in relation to what is ultimate, to the infinite that lies within and beyond all things. They are those who love precisely everything, but profoundly, in this sense.
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1. Luigi Giussani, The Religious Sense, newly revised translation by John Zucchi (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997). All of my citations are from this book.