I really like remembering, that is, returning with my heart and mind to those faces and events that were the place where Christ touched me: remembering always has something special about it, perhaps because doing so immediately becomes a matter of skin.
And January lends itself to this gaze in a privileged way for me: exactly ten years ago, returning from New Year’s Eve in Villa Grugana, the discovery of a man Jesus, no longer a distant God as I had experienced him up to that moment, a revelation – in a difficult phase of my life – which turned my perspective upside down and alarmed me. “Only You, Jesus”, were the three words that my lips repeated for an entire year, without me realizing what I was saying, asking, probably already desiring.
The heart arrived immediately, the mind took a while: only a year later in January 2014, an energetic “without reservations, Savi” made it clear even to my skin the desire to be entirely of Christ alone and thus give myself , intimately united with Him, with every soul to be encountered to the ends of the earth. Since then a wonderful adventure, made up of long and strong resistance and then small steps, has marked the most precious pages of my life.
The journey brought me to Rome in the novelty of the international novitiate: a special contact to mark the privilege of this experience! A contact that I recognize at different levels: first of all the one with companions of different countries, a soil where very deep bonds take shape, harmonies and understandings that do not pay attention to origins, and at the same time great challenges that inevitably feel, the price of cultural differences.
Furthermore, in the community where I live, the close proximity with missionaries of various experiences and at different stages of the journey immediately proved to be a precious and priceless treasure that gives an important sense of family.
Meeting with other ecclesial realities at the SIC – the inter-congregational school of novitiates – allows me to experience the beauty of feeling Church, of being men and women together on the journey. A contact makes me grasp a crucial nuance: there are challenges not only mine, but of many discerning young people and above all of the whole Church. This awareness helps me to develop trust, not to feel alone, to reduce my pride and grow in the humility of recognizing that the Work is His, to nourish and strengthen the most beautiful desires that inhabit my heart for this beloved House.
Furthermore, staying in Rome is a unique opportunity to get in touch with the splendor of art and music. The contemplation of unique works of painting, sculpture, world-famous or hidden architecture, as well as participation in events and musical concerts increases in me amazement at the Creator’s love for man and at the same time at the dignity and talents of the human being. This also seems to me to be a very high educational opportunity that allows me to keep alive within me that provocative question that Cardinal Martini asked thirty years ago. “What beauty builds man, restores him more fully to himself in a world that Is a world that often seems unable to stop in order to listen to the truest and most inner needs of an individual more and more in competition, more and more in a hurry”? This is the time to ask myself even more intensely what Beauty is, what it is that projects towards the “true goal to which our restless heart tends”, where is my treasure that I can share one day with those I will meet.
This close contact with different realities favors sensible questions that I feel arise also and above all in the field of the apostolate: for me the unique opportunity is in the service I carry out in the community that welcomes mother-child – Maria Teresa House in the Pedro Arrupe center in Rome. The commitment – in the shift from Saturday evening to Sunday – is of assistance, support and company to women who have lost parental authority (or it has been limited to them). These are hours of coexistence in which contact with that sacred place of a wounded motherhood becomes very close, which in its extreme fragility tries everything possible to “redeem” itself. Entering into a relationship with mothers is the most important and also the most challenging part, because often I have to overcome the wall of their distrust, of the sense of guilt that makes them feel judged, at fault with everything and therefore on the defensive. Sometimes that first “kick” is nothing more than a test bench to verify if and how much I remain available, how much skin I continue to put on for them and their children, if I stay or move.
It seems to me a very high need for love! “Love needs skin and nothing else”, sings Giuliano Sangiorgi of Negramaro: it is really true, Fr. Vismara used to say, “they demand skin, all skin, nothing but skin”. It is perhaps the most delicate phase with each of these very young mothers – building trust. The same asks me for more tenderness, more care, which demands to grow in the stupendous art, which is the most appropriate use of words and gestures, based on the face in front of the situation and me. Sometimes the veiled request is that I invade their space so that they can understand that I am there, other times they ask to go back and wait.
Certainly, it is also a service that disturbs entirely the questions of judgment on the maternity, those more real ones: a contact like this fills me with incentives to face those deepest desires and fears on a theme that I feel is the precious pearl. Certainly, however, imperfect as I am, I never expected such an opportunity to know the mothers who kept life in their womb for nine months, then gave birth and now struggle to keep going. I glimpse, barely but sufficiently, the promise of a different motherhood in which this beautiful gift helps me to believe and hope, also trying to place myself “in the number of ‘pellem pro pelle‘ (pellem = skin in Latin), every day, a fragment a day, with a serene soul, being strong, without regret, even if the heart… trembles!!!” (Vismara).
Savina, International novitiate in Rome