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Friday, January 20, 2012

Jesus, a Perceptible Presence

A reader of this blog sent me a link with the conversion story of an English psychiatric nurse turned published poet. This woman and I have a few things in common: We are about the same age, she lives in Rome (where I used to live before I moved to the USA) and she was not a believer for most of her life.
I was moved to tears when I read about her experience:

"In that church, there was an icon of Christ and, prayerless, I would simply look at him. It was on one of these occasions that I spoke aloud to the face and asked for help. There was no visual or aural hallucination, or anything; as a poet, I can use as a metaphor to tell what happened. The nearest I can come to describing it is to say that it felt like I was an amnesiac in a fit of quiet panic, and suddenly someone walked into the room that I recognised.
Later, I would read Simone Weil’s account of a very similar experience: “Christ lui-même est descendu et m’a prise.” It was unlike anything I had ever experienced and was impossible to replicate internally. I had and have no doubt that it was the presence of Christ. That, earlier in the spring, my breaking apart had allowed God enough of a crack in my intellect and defences to let me know him. Now I was open enough to let Christ embed himself in me".

Witness like this move me and reinforce my faith, because my experience of the divine is similar. At times I've had a strong perception of Jesus' presence, for me He is real and alive in the Spirit. Father Giussani defines Him a "perceptible Presence", and the members of my School of Community interpret this as a metaphor, where His presence becomes evident in people's actions and goodness. This is beautiful, but for me there is more to it. There is that "Lui- meme", "Lui stesso", Jesus Himself who dwells among us. The risen Jesus.

Last week, at School of Community, we read about "the experience of risk". Giussani wonders why it is so difficult for man to read the existence of God in the reality that surrounds him, why man remains paralyzed before the real. I still experience this difficulty when I try to see the hand of a Creator. Without the Incarnation I wouldn't believe in God. But Jesus came on earth and suddenly God was not so hidden anymore, nor did he want to be. The "risk" for me is that of loosing contact with Him, of ending up thinking that He is a projection of my mind. How do I avoid this risk? I hold on to my love for Him and to the perception of His love for me. When love feels real, it's hard to believe that the object of our love is just a product of our imagination.
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