ITALY, Federico Bauml •
As per the Schoenstatt Movement in Italy’s tradition, this year’s family event was held during Holy Week. “There were twenty-eight Italians, one Argentinean, one Brazilian, one Bolivian, one Frenchman, five Paraguayan and one dog…” What may have seemed like the beginning of a fun joke was in fact the composition of the Italian Mission group for Holy Week 2017: a heterogeneous group of teenagers, families, college students, graduates and young workers.
Experiencing the beauty of the 2017 Mission setting with sun and the sea in Vico Equense, a little jewel in the heart of Campania as a backdrop, was truly beautiful.
Statistically, this mission was the eighth for the Italian youth, the fourth during Holy Week. Departure was scheduled for Holy Thursday: they were awake at dawn in an attempt to avoid Roman traffic and get to Vico as soon as possible. With eyes still half-closed by sleep, emotions varied: joy, curiosity, and enthusiasm.
In Vico, the Holy Thursday liturgy awaited with the highlights of the foot washing and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, during which the Eucharistic miracle was renewed.
It was the right time to have a pizza (we are in Campania, after all), and we were back at San Ciro parish church to lead the meditation, in front of the sealed tomb.
Friday and Saturday
After devoting the morning visiting some retirement homes, Friday afternoon brought a moment of silence, meditation, and liturgy dedicated to Jesus’ passion and death with the focus being the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) in Pacognano’s streets, a small village neighboring Vico.
Saturday morning, however, was dedicated to the Knock, Knock mission, visiting Vico’s homes, bringing parish greetings to the people in the country and offering good Easter wishes. In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to meet the Bishop of the Diocese of Vico, who was ready to welcome us with Southern Italy’s typical warmth.
A quick ice cream (we were still in Campania!), a look at the sea, and then we were ready for the Vigil preparation, the most important moment of the liturgical year, and with the honor and the privilege of participating in the local tradition by inserting our particular charism into it.
The tomb was empty, the dark gave way to light, death gave way to life, glory and the alleluia resounds joyously and returned to the place that belongs to him: Christ is risen! He is truly risen!
Mission comes from the Latin word meaning to measure. In browsing the dictionary, the first meaning you encounter is the most common, “send,” but you just need to drop down a line to find another: “give, dedicate, let go, abandon” and so on.
In the end, to go on a mission is also and above all this: to indulge, to let go. It starts in a certain way and returns, always, a bit different. And no matter how many missions you’ve made, or how old you are, every time is actually more of a “first mission,” because it will always have something different to offer.
Jesus told us to knock and it will open, and our “knock, knock” is there to remind us of just that.
Because it is true that a mission leads us to do something for others, and every time someone opens the door, and therefore their homes and a part of their lives, it is an incredible emotion. Moreover the hope is always to bring some joy and leave a good memory for the people we meet.
But it is also equally true that the first recipients of the mission are just us, because that shiver coming just after knocking has already changed us before we find out whether the door will opened or not.
It is good to know that you have a guardian angel, and that you can be a guardian angel. Because that atmosphere of educational travel created by the youths affects us all. To go against the current is less tiring if you do it together, and even the sharks instill a little less fear. Because seeing the fruits of what was sown is a privilege granted only to a few. We are told that in singing, we pray twice, and maybe even three or four times, and a guitar and a smile can make a difference, because if you offer one thing you’ll receive ten in return.
Don Tonino Bello, in a meditation on Holy Saturday, addressed these wonderful words to Mary: “Awaken us from the impatience of his return on Sunday. Clothe us in bridal garb. While we wait, stand next to us and let us practice the chants, because time stands still here. ”
Without her guiding us and allowing us to be her legs, these days would not have been so special.
The real mission begins now. MPHC.