We publish the reflection that the Archbishop of Trent, Msgr Lauro Tisi, and the Bishop of Bolzano-Bressanone, Msgr Ivo Muser, offered during Lent drawing on Chiara’s spirituality and her “mystical and innovative reinterpretation of the Crucified Christ”.

“Look at the open arms of Christ Crucified, let yourself be saved over and over again.”

Pope Francis’ splendid invitation resounds in his message for Lent 2020. And it challenges us to go to the root of our relationship with the God from Nazareth and ask ourselves how far we are willing to let ourselves be saved by Him.

Among those who have been able to penetrate the mystery of those open arms on the cross is a key figure of twentieth-century Christianity: Chiara Lubich, whose centenary we celebrate this year. Starting from these mountains of ours, Chiara re-launched the spirituality of unity in the world. And she did so through a mystical and innovative reinterpretation of the Crucified Christ; one far from a purely sacrificial approach. In the shadow of the Dolomites, she developed a new vision of the great mystery of the forsaken Christ. She wrote: “God in some way made himself “non being” out of love”.

It is essential, at this time in history, to dwell on the question of God. To be wrong about God, in fact, is to be wrong about humanity. Following in Chiara Lubich’s footsteps, we understand that the forsaken Christ is the revelation of a God whose existence is irreducibly marked by faithfulness to giving and to love. A faithfulness that reaches its peak at the moment of Jesus’ death. Faced, in fact, with the challenge “Save yourself”, Christ remains nailed to the cross and thus reveals to us who God is: tireless in protecting the other, to the point of obliterating himself.

Today too we urgently need to turn God’s narrative upside down and see clearly the God of Jesus Christ whose defining and unique characteristic is his faithfulness to giving and faithfulness to the other. This is the deep root of unity to which we are called to convert ourselves anew this year. Unity understood not as an ethical commitment, but as a harbour of salvation. Indeed, it is in sharing that we find our lifeblood. Instead, presuming we are self-sufficient is a prelude to relational failure and leads directly to a deadly loneliness.

The God of Jesus Christ opens his arms on the cross and in so doing he gives us a manual for life. We too are called to open our arms: towards Him and among ourselves. The more we are capable of authentic sharing, the more we will be ourselves.

Best wishes for Lent in fellowship.


+ Lauro Tisi                                                          + Ivo Muser

Archbishop of Trent                                        Bishop of Bolzano-Bressanone