« It's December! | Main | Wow! »

Monday, January 16, 2006


Fred K.

Thanks, Jack, for these critical yet positive comments! I noticed many of these issues in Florida last year.

The dilution of experience with language is common to many renewal movements. My response to this trend is to look at the relationship between terms I use and my experience.

Regarding the interventions, can anyone say "The Oscars" (TM)? I would love to see a series of regional panels. This change would really enable participants to get a good picture of the overall state of the movement in the country.

Preparation for these regional panels could be regional free-for-alls similar to what is done now, but much smaller and so much less overwhelming.

What you say about the charism of administration and about charity are dead on.


Well, did you like Boston? They tore down the old ugly causeway that used to buttress Quincy Market. You can now see the historic buildings of Charlestown. And, even more important the N.E. Patrots were still the World Champs during that weekend. I suppose that they still are, for another couple of weeks.



Yes, I liked Boston. Having lived there for a number of years in the past, it always feels a bit like visiting home when I get a chance to go back to Boston.


Thanks, Fred. I really appreciate your comments. Not because you affirmed some of the things I said, but because I feel less crazy for having felt them. I didn't say it, but yes, I had the same thought as your Oscar comment. The regional panel idea is exactly the type of thing I expected -- fairly unstructured and spontaneous, to be sure, in CL fashion.


My experience was very different, and I'll blog about it later, when I have some time, and if you'll let me, I'll offer a response to what I read here. Just two things though . . .

What did you expect in front of the diaconia? And I mean this as a personal question, you personally, what did you expect from the diaconia for yourself, to help your life?

And second, in response to Christ, in fact in response to the movement, only one thing is asked: To follow, in your freedom. Did you follow?

Chris Burgwald

Jack, I've only been able to attend one Diakonia (Mpls.), and that was only for Sunday and Monday, and my experience there was similar to some of your comments. You mentioned not feeling welcomed: I felt the same way in Mpls. I feel the same way you do about the need for inculturation, as well.

Perhaps my expectations were too high, but like you, my Diakonia experience was disappointing.

Hopefully I'll be able to attend another with lower expectations and a different result.

Fred K.

My first Diaconia (Chicago) was splendid. My wife, Karen's judgement on Mn was similar to what is posted here. My judgement of Florida last year was also similar to what I read here. To be fair, Karen and I experienced a mixture of the good and the disappointing.

One of the first times I ever heard Msgr. Albacete speak, someone spoke up and said they were critical of what he was saying. His response was that we should be critical.

In Florida, somebody asked me what my judgement was on the Diaconia so far. I gave a mixed response with both positive and critical comments. Their response was defensiveness and argumentation.

The day that I stop looking at things critically is the day that I stop growing and die. I may still speak about the Mystery and the Presence, but it will be empty sounds.

I don't think that lowering expectations is the right course, at all. I think instead that disappointment can be a gift that teaches us about ourselves (Jesus said blessed are those who mourn, after all).



I very much agree with you about disappointment can be a gift that teach us about ourselves. That is very much the vein in which I hope this post to be read. Because fundamentally I would like to learn from this weekend on a personal level.

That said, I have to agree with Chris' comment in this way: having experienced a Diaconia now, I will try to have less pre-conceived notions about it in the future. That may be of help. That doesn't diminish the problems I saw or my desire that future Diaconias could be better in those regards.

Stephen, as to your questions, I think I spelled out some of them above. Fundamentally, I wanted to learn more about whether this movement is for me. And, for me, I cannot do that simply by studying Giussani and trying to judge whether I can verify what he says in my life. This is a people, too, and so I must understand this people. And for me a part of that is knowing about what is going on in their areas, what they are struggling with, what the movement is learning about its experience in the United States. But I didn't learn any of that from the planned aspects of the Diaconia.

I've been involved with other communities before. And I have always thought it was helpful to examine how a community behaved with respect to newcomers, but most of all with respect to those outside of the community. And not in big actions, but in little ones.

There are times when I feel as though I've joined a real movement and there are times when I feel like I have joined a mediocre college fellowship that never grew up. Don't take these comments as all that disparaging. From the very fact that I am not going anywhere, it should be understood that this weekend didn't shake me. I just couldn't post on the Diaconia and sugar-coat my experience.

As to whether I followed, this is precisely the type of question that I struggle with. It is a classic question someone in CL would ask, but at times can lack any real connection and be almost scripted. (Not suggesting, Stephen, at all that is how you asked the question.) I most certainly followed in that I came. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have. I most certainly followed in that I stayed for as much as I did. But then I followed another call. I'm not suggesting I know whether I made the right choice or not in leaving some events and then coming home early. I don't know yet. But it was a choice and one I felt I had to make to be honest.



I appreciate you taking my questions seriously because I didn't ask them defensively, really just wanting to know what you thought.

The first question in regards to expectation is important to me because I have found that I always need an expectation, I always have to be looking for something in order to be in tension toward what's being presented. The first time I went to a Diakonia was in Minneapolis. I loved it. It changed everything for me. And quite honestly, I felt completely welcomed. I also didn't go alone, and my friends who went with me really stayed with and provoked me to what was being asked.

This year I again really loved the Diakonia. I always love the time at the bar and the singing, etc, but in particular this year I was really provoked by the interventions and the responses by Vittadini, Albacete, and Don Pino (in particular Don Pino) because I saw that they were completely for my life. How I live the experience of the movement, how I'm provoked by the proposal is what matters to me as a responsible. I'm really not interested in "what's the status of the movement in America" etc., because in the end, this doesn't help me in the way I stand in front of the people I am responsible for. What I need is something to "respond" to, something that provokes my response, makes me responsible in front of my kids. This happened for me in boston.

Also, I asked about whether you followed because this question means everything. It's not a question of how much you attended or whether you left early or left late. It really is a question of whether you take seriously the proposal, what's being said, what's being asked and judge it, allowing your heart to be provoked. It's a way of staying in front of the reality that's there and saying 'yes' saying 'this is what I'm being given for my happiness because I know that You give every moment of my life for my happiness.'

I know this sounds like "CLese" but I'm serious. I want what's in front of me to provoke me, I want what's proposed to me to be where I encounter Christ. My own idea of what things should be like, how things should go, this is an abstraction and in the end doesn't make me happy. It's an idol.

Believe me, I'm not upset about your reaction or judgement. And I'm not really interested in 'defending' the Diakonia or the movement. I am however just saying that for me the experience was completely different. I don't think it was because I was delusional. The same proposal was made to you and to me. We sat through the same events, but for me the experience was really moving. In fact I told one of my kids today that I felt like my heart had been torn open again by an eruption of desire. In the vernacular, the Diakonia provoked my heart, really made clear to me what I want in front of Christ, what I'm asking Him and what he is asking me.

Why does it provoke me and turn you away? The same proposal, yet I loved it and you hated it . . . Objectively I can only say that the difference must be in you and in me. Because we stood in front of the same thing and we have different reactions. The only thing that's different is our position in front of what we saw.

Fred K.

"Why does it provoke me and turn you away? The same proposal, yet I loved it and you hated it . . . Objectively I can only say that the difference must be in you and in me. Because we stood in front of the same thing and we have different reactions. The only thing that's different is our position in front of what we saw."

This schema does not take into account all of the factors of reality. Cultural factors can impact the delivery of a message as can prior knowledge and education. As Fr. Giussani says in Why the Church, the charism passes through people. Some people can awaken my awareness of Christ more than any others. For me, I know that Carras loves what I love; for other people, Msgr. Albacete really awakens them. When Fr. Giussani noticed certain faces brightening or darkening in response to his homilies, he attributed the reason for this different response to the way charism works through the personality.

As a substitute teacher, my job is to supervise students as they work on worksheets. Everyday I beg for the presence of Christ, a presence which does not depend upon me. Some days I feel this presence tangibly; other days, I feel the absence of Christ. Christ is always present, but I don't always experience that presence as a consolation. No doubt, my sin and inattention play a role in my desolation. Sometimes, it is due to demonic attacks. Biology and psychology likely play some role as well.

Even if I experience the consoling presence of Christ in my work, I still remain critically aware of the work situation. For example, my role in proposing meaning to the students is very limited. I see the emptiness and lack of meaning in the course that is presented to students.

Considering that a decision is being contemplated, St. Ignatius's Rules for Discernment of Spirits may be quite relevant: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/ignatius/exercises.xix.i.html

This commentary explains the rules very well: http://www.ccr.org.au/discern.html


Regardless of your involvement in a particular Movement, I am in Regnum Christi (full disclosure), remember that they are only a means not an end. Your involvement should help you to be a better man, husband, father and friend rather than serve your "emotional needs". Although, "emotional needs" are real and should not be haphazardly dismissed, they are not primary in the spiritual life. Stay close to Jesus Christ and His teachings through the Church. Allow Him to lead you to be a better person.


Fred, I wasn't clear. I didn't mean to imply that somehow the difference was "in" me, or "in" jack. I guess I was just thinking of the Milky Way example that Fr. Giussani uses. The reason the students couldn't see what he saw, couldn't see the Milky Way reflected in the water is that they weren't standing where he was standing, weren't looking the way he was looking.

The question of education and culture and such all have to do witht his. But I think we have to recognize that the problem of being moved isn't because of what is in front of us. It's becasue of us. The problem is us.

Jim Cork


This was my first Diaconia as well--it's too bad I never ran into you. I did meet Stephen. I went up with one other person from our community, which is just getting started. She's from Italy, so she introduced me to a lot of people. I had also met a few people before--our visitor, Marco, who lives in Ohio; and Mike Eppler and Paul, who had come to see us in October.

I've also talked with people on the regional conference calls. So I may have had a built-in group of people who I had already met before in one form or another.

I can sympathize with some of your frustrations. I would have liked some idea beforehand of what was going to be happpening when. But I work with Japanese people, who are even more obsessed over planning than the Swiss, so the lack of organization was for me a nice break from my normal life.

As far as where the movement is going... well, as I said, we're just getting started here in Atlanta, so I have my work cut out for me.

My only complaint about the late-night partying was that the bar was way too small and understaffed for a hotel that size. At a hotel that charges $4.95 for a bottle of water in the room, I shouldn't have to wait 45 minutes for a beer.



Thanks for the comments. Please feel free to continue to discuss. However, I've posted some more thoughts, which I hope better explains things.

MAJ Jones

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

I just returned from Boston and a short vacation to NYC... 2400 miles in two vans with 7 children, 1 teenager and 5 adults!

Fred - thanks for alerting me of this post.

Stephen - it was a great joy to see your human face and embrace you. I only wish that we had more time together in the flesh and not just via the virtual world of blogging.

Jack, thank you for your judgment. In your freedom, call me (toll-free) @ 888-388-8385.

The comments to this entry are closed.

February 2009

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28