St. Guido Conforti: When God is enough!

By Fr. Eugenio Pulcini, sx.

To our dear confreres Frs. Thierry and Matia

who by now are learning to sing the Thai ABC…

Our Founder was a man who lived by Faith. Should one ignore the guiding role his faith – expressed in short sentences – played in understanding and dealing with the vicissitudes of his life, it would miss its comprehension.

The very beginning and the consummation of his life –through the accomplishment of what he felt was “his” mission – cannot be understood if we set aside those chief assumptions which – so to speak – are the exegesis and the map of his life.

The explicit, suggestive and transforming experience of the “loving gaze of the crucified Jesus”; his episcopal motto –In omnibus Christus (to see, seek and love God in all); the life program of his missionary family –Caritas Christi urget nos; his humble words with reference to the unfortunate and regretful Memorandum by his children in China, (“Dominus scit”) and towards the end of his life when he added to the “The Deum” sung in the Cathedral (“in Te domine speravi non confundar in aeternum”) ostensibly reveal to us the adamant faith and “competence” of our father Conforti. He was a man who left himself be known and loved by God. Thus, surrendering to Him, he could dedicate himself entirely to the missionary work, “his” way to sum up the totality of his spirituality. For St. Guido, God was enough to give meaning and purpose to his life, so that God became the source, the target and the way of his life journey.

The days of his canonization have been a strong call and an opportunity for us his children to summon up our courage and allow us to be challenged again by the fundamental questions of our life: “is God enough for me?” “Do I desire Him?” “Do we mean it when singing the hymn: “Take Lord and receive all my liberty…?” “Is He the source, the target and the way of my being a missionary?” “Am I perhaps using religion and God to build my kingdom through some attitudes and behavior inconsistent with my vocation and that seem much less than Christ-like?

We could come close to grasping if and how God is enough for us through understanding what occurs when we try to model our own identity and mission on idolatrous means. The story of Adam and Eve is a straightforward paradigm of our human situation. Created in the “image and likeness of God”, they want for nothing and yet they are tempted: “you will become like God.” The fact is that they have already it all by God’s gracious gift! Nonetheless, for them God is not enough. They want to have it by their own effort, their own will. It is insanity – indeed – to believe that they can control life, or become God-like by anything they do. But then again they go ahead, and act insanely, just as all of us “addicts and idolaters” have been doing over the centuries until today. Obviously, to them – and to us – God is not enough.

We continually grumble and complain about secularization: couldn’t it be the fact that our church (our congregation….) is no longer capable of inventing a new relationship with the emerging cultures? Are the present times and their many challenges an opportunity to be lived or just a loss to be mourned?  When God is enough, we become able to accomplish our missionary task, today as always, dwelling evangelically in the living “worlds” we are given now.  Hence, in the third millennium, St. Guido’s experience of God reminds us that mission must not be anymore an act of conquest, but a relational concept – born out of an embodied relational experience – which allows a dialogue with every man, every culture and every religion, sharing and proclaiming God’s salvific desire for everybody.

God, the core and fundamental reason of St. Guido’s missionary vocation, was enough for him.  As a matter of fact, our Founder dared to believe that the Gospel and the Church would be able to embrace the totality of and live in all cultures, despite the many historical turmoils and epochal changes of his time.

I love to think that this is THE sign of time given to us. Conforti’s unlimited trust teaches us that when God is enough, we can pass from fear to confidence, and look forward to humbly facing this hour of our history. Let us take courage: in our service to the Mission, we are not alone and we do not have to carry alone what in truth we could never carry alone. We are protected, led and carried by a friend of God, our Father Guido Conforti, for whom God was enough.

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