Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Why of the Wow of the New York Encounter

As I rode the train home from the New York Encounter last night (yes, that is our son's upright bass in the foreground; I agreed to carry the behemoth home so G. could enjoy dinner in New York with friends unencumbered) I thought about why it had been such a good experience.

I was delighted the chamber music orchestra our son plays in had the chance to perform Friday night in the Hammerstein Ballroom.  I found the talk on the Hubble Telescope interesting. I thought it was incredibly cool that Polish film director Krzysztof  Zanussi spoke and then was walking around wearing those fashion-forward glasses. But in the end, what awes me most about the New York Encounter are not the performances or presentations. After all, I have had two decades of interesting experiences as a journalist. What moves me most and stays with me now are the people who attend the New York Encounter.

The New York Encounter is a free, three-day cultural festival organized by folks who are active in Communion and Liberation, an ecclesiastical group of which I am a part. The charism of the movement is evident by its adherents and by others who are drawn to the event.  They come from all over the United States and from many corners of the world. I don't know of any other experience I have had where I have  encountered people who are so warm, so welcoming, so easily able to contemplate the deeper questions about what gives meaning to life. Where else can I learn how to be so fully human?

Monsignor Luigi Giusanni, started the movement through his work at a high school in Milan. What he wrote years ago resonates with what happened inside me in the Manhattan Center this weekend.

“From the first hour of class at the Berchet high school in Milan...I tried to show the students what moved me: not the wish to convince them that I was right, but the desire to show them the reasonableness of faith; that is, that their free adhesion to the Christian proclamation was demanded by their discovery of the correspondence of what I was saying with the needs of their hearts, as implied by the definition of reasonableness. Only this dynamic of recognition makes whoever adheres to our movement creative and a protagonist, and not simply one who repeats formulas and things they have heard.

For this reason, it seems to me, a charism generates a social phenomenon not as something planned, but as a movement of persons who have been changed by an encounter, who tentatively make the world, the environment, and the circumstances that they encounter more human."


  1. Gosh this sounds like it was wonderful. You said I would love it and I am sure you are correct.

    Beautiful post!

  2. next year, Fran?! I will pester you next fall about this.

  3. Thanks, Allison, for this uplifting and hope-giving post. Is that the Long Island Railroad or one of the lines going up Westchester way? It's nearly 22 years since I was last in the Big Apple.

    1. p.s. the Archbishop of Dublin also spoke at this event. He celebrated Mass Sunday, too!

  4. Thanks, Fr. Sean. Actually it is New Jersey Transit - the third rail line!