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Culture & Religion

LENT / Leave space for the Other

The Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo is a society of missionary priests working around the world, who live community life together and work in parishes, schools, universities, and hospitals. We here publish the letter that Msgr. Massimo Camisasca, Superior General, sent for Lent to the priests of the Fraternity.  


Letter sent to the priests of the Fraternity of St. Charles by Msgr. Massimo Camisasca, Superior General, February 2010.

Dear brothers,

A few days ago we began Lent. I want to share some reflections with you that have been with me during these days, and that I have already put before the seminarians.

Lent invites us to leave behind the image we have of ourselves, to encounter God and to be able to find our I in him. It is he who opens wide the true dimensions of our personality. It is he who teaches us what the good would be for our lives, and what are the paths to reach it. Of course, in this transition we have the impression of dying. Fr. Giussani commented countless times on this experience of mortification as being like death. It seems like you have to leave everything.

Sacrifice is to leave space for the Other. To let the Other occupy a space in my life, to gradually enter my life until he fills it completely, until he becomes my I: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Gal 2,20). Sacrifice is to leave space for Christ. It is the Passover, the passage from the apparent to the real, from the devil to God, from the I as the meaning of everything to God as the meaning of everything.

The purpose of Lent is not mortification, but that each person would find himself: the one who loses himself, finds himself. Sacrifice is the path which is necessary for our nature, which is inclined to evil and division, to be able to discover its identity.

But it is not a sudden passage. It requires much time. The common meaning of sacrifice, which is by no means trivial, is suffering. Why do we think of these two words as strongly connected? Why does making a sacrifice cause us to suffer? Because it involves a change. It is a sacrifice, because it is the passage to a greater good in which we do not yet fully perceive the light. But God guides us and fills us with consolation.