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from issue no. 01/02 - 2009

Four years after the death of Don Luigi Giussani (15 October 1922 – 22 February 2005)

It is Him who takes something that is nothing and saves it

by Rose Busingye

Don Luigi Giussani and Rose Busingye

Don Luigi Giussani and Rose Busingye

The first time I saw Don Giussani in person was in the summer of 1990. I had gone up to Corvara, I went into the hotel, and there there was a man praying. It was him, but I didn’t know him yet. We entered the same elevator together. He turned and said to me: but you’re Rose! We hugged tightly and for a long time, and the elevator continued to open and close and no one pushed the button to go.
At that time I had read an article in 30Days in which Don Giussani spoke of Memores Domini. He said that Christ could embrace all moments and all aspects of life. So – I thought – even my nothingness, my incapacity, Jesus could take it and embrace it just as it was, if He wanted. I had been advised that in order to enter Memores Domini I would have to do ten years of novitiate. “My Jesus, but how long does it take to be with You”, I thought. When Don Gius told me that I could enter right away, I was afraid. “But do you know how old I am? I have no idea what these Memores are”, I said. “But do you love Jesus?” Giussani asked me. “Well, that yes”, I answered. “And do you want to give your life?”. “Oh, life... I don’t have anything important in life to give to Jesus”, I replied, “but if He wants, I want Him to take all this nothing”. At that point Giussani stood up, almost shouting: “This thing, go out and tell it to everyone, to everyone! Because everyone thinks they have something important to give to Jesus, and so it is as if they’re waiting all their life for a reward. But instead it’s Him who takes something that is nothing, and saves it”.
Don Gius was like that. I don’t drink wine, and he, each time: “Drink the wine, taste how good it is! But do you know how they make it, the wine?” He explained everything to you about the vines, the wine-harvest, the barrels, the wine cellars, and you found yourself drinking the wine... It was so nice to eat like that, eating and drinking things never even tasted.
Don Gius made you enjoy everything. And he didn’t talk to you about God. There was no need to talk about God. He always said that a child has no difficulty in describing his father: he knows how he pulls funny faces, how he flexes his muscles... Indeed, he doesn’t even describe him. Simply, one sees the child and says: he is truly his father’s son! He has a way of doing things that resembles his father’s. Giussani said that we are not immersed in Christ, and that’s why we multiply words about Christ, to the point of boredom. Whereas people who are immersed in Christ are changed. You see how they touch things, how they eat, how they drink, and think but how they eat! I want to eat like them. To do things the way they do them.
Once I went to him and he said something to me about Our Lady. That it’s thanks to Our Lady that we understand more how the humanity of Christ worked, who looked perhaps at a beggar or a prostitute, and asked that their destiny be fulfilled. Our Lady did what God requested of her. And that’s all. She didn’t go around preaching. We wouldn’t have done the same. If what happened to her had happened to one of us, can you imagine, we’d have gone around waving the flag, saying to everybody: the angel of God came to talk to me! Don Gius said to me: “Look, if it really matters to you that people be saved, take a step backwards and ask that it may happen. Because in the end you can only ask who can save you, if He wants, also to save those dear to you”.
However, on meeting Don Giussani, the first thing you noticed was that it was nice to be with him. Even if you didn’t understand anything, this you understood: you would gladly come back tomorrow and also the day after that. When they took him to have a little rest, he used to say: “Don’t go away, wait, we’ll see each other afterwards”. He and I never said goodbye to each other. It always ended in that way: we’ll see each other afterwards. Once he phoned. “Are you not coming to Italy?”. “Gius, I’m here, in Kampala, I have no plans to come”. And him: “Come on, come! Come!” I took the plane, and spent the entire trip wondering: who knows what he has to say to me. Arriving there, greetings, and he: “Nothing, I wanted to see you...”.
To my friends of the Meeting Point, he was like a father. They called their sons Luigi, they didn’t know the significance of that name. They didn’t do so because he was my friend: what is mine is theirs, so Don Gius became their great friend. They would put his face, now, on all the trees in Africa.
I miss his physical presence. But now he sees what we need, even before we’re aware of it ourselves.

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