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VIA CRUCIS/ 17 years on the Brooklyn Bridge: following the cross never becomes a habit

RIRO MANISCALCO describes the Way of the Cross in New York City, where the numbers are impressive, but what really counts is the faith of those following the cross.

The crowd passing over the bridge The crowd passing over the bridge

Seventeen years. For seventeen years the community of Communion and Liberation in New York has followed Jesus’ cross over the Brooklyn Bridge on Good Friday. Going from twenty-five people who lived the moment with naive boldness in 1996 to the thousands today, New York has seen the birth and consolidation of a tradition, an ancient gesture of reverence and popular piety that some of us, as kids, rediscovered thanks to Father Giussani, and that in these years even New York has begun to rediscover. Every year on the bridge, the long line of pilgrims passes like a silent river packed with people, tourists and passers-by. One person joins, another says thank you, others look surprised or puzzled, but no one can remain indifferent.

Seventeen years. After seventeen years, for the first time, both the Bishop of Brooklyn and Queens, Di Marzio, and the Cardinal of Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, Dolan, were with us.

They wanted to be present at St. James Cathedral in Brooklyn, the gathering place. They supported us with their blessing and reminded us that the path of Good Friday is the journey of life, and that living it in the heart of our city is a testimony of faith that our city needs. Seventeen years, and every year we have been given something new, almost forcing us to remain vigilant, snatching away the risk of it becoming a habit or of us getting caught up in the outcome of the gesture. I will always remember something Giussani told me in 2002, the first year we took the cross to Ground Zero. That year there were thousands of people, which had never happened before. On the phone, Giussani answered my excitement with great contentment, but also said, "do not worry about the numbers. Two thousand years ago, on a day like today, there were not many people who remained to follow Jesus, but the very loyalty of those few made everything that is happening possible”.

The "numbers"... of course looking at that river of people makes the heart leap ... we can no longer fit either in St. James or in St. Peter’s (the church where the Way of the Cross ends). We can now no longer even fit on the bridge (which is 1.8 kilometers long...).

But the numbers really do not, like the seventeen years, many for the life of a man, nothing in the history of mankind, do not count.

What counts is that, on that day, I followed the cross of Jesus. In the mysterious story of my life, it happened that I did it once again on the Brooklyn Bridge.

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