Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Movement Which Moves Me

I took this picture of Fr. Julian Carron the first day he visited the new CL USA office

Ever since the Pope tendered his resignation last week, there has been much discussion on who will next lead the world's billions of Catholics.

Among those discussed is Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan. Associated with him is the tag, "conservative  Catholic movement, Communion and Liberation."

I first met the movement of Communion and Liberation at their event (CL), The Way of the Cross Over the Brooklyn Bridge on Good Friday, 2007. The beauty of the gesture is an event I look forward to each year. I could never tell you whether or not CL is conservative, even as I worked at it's national headquarters in Manhattan as the manager of it's magazine (US edition), Traces.

What I can tell you is that CL is made up of a bunch of people like me--broken and lost souls trying to make some sense out of life; trying to effect change in the world & culture in the only meaningful way: changing the way we live as individuals, families and communities.

Some people have a natural awareness of God in their lives and in culture and do not need an organization or movement to show them. Others have such an awareness and choose to be a part of a larger group that nurtures it. Still others, like me, know that something is terribly wrong; that there is something better, more holistic, but can't quite put a finger on it or make our way through the dark alone. We are companions on the journey.

Msgr. Luigi Giussani, founder of CL and his successor, Fr. Julian Carron, have taught me to embrace my desires; that my hunger to connect with God through other human beings is in fact generated by God Himself. This is not a weakness, as I previously thought. It is an integral part of the human condition, divinely designed.

To be frank, CL saved my life. Rather than fall into one of the two ideological camps fostered by societal divide, this movement has shown me a way to embrace all the good and true in culture. As St. Paul says, test everything, retain what is good.

The long-dormant spark of the yearning to write was nudged awake because of what I've learned--that creativity is a vocation; that we are creators because God first created us. That truth is not bound by what a man professes to be, but by what he actually is. Or, as I like to say, atheists are proof that God exists.

In 2010, after 3 years of living the life of the movement, I realized I was at a standstill; that there was something blocking me from encountering Christ in a more meaningful way.

That something was my addiction to compulsive overeating.

Years earlier, I had spent sometime (about 5 years) in churches across the county with a bunch of (mostly)women who were trying to find a way to get out from the hell of addiction to food. Then I left, and my addiction took on a new life and I spent the next 11 years in the throes of a full-blown binge. I was 44 years-old, weighed 241 lbs (5'4") and was hopeless. I believed in God like an agnostic: He exists, but isn't really active in my life. Yes, I believed that even while professing otherwise. Yet, I wanted to go back and give the Twelve Steps another try. I knew they stressed the importance of God.

My best ideas usually get me nowhere, so I consulted my two friends from CL. They agreed going back to the Twelve Steps was worth it. In late August, 2010, I re-entered a "church basement"(actually a library conference room) and said the to the strangers gathered:

"My name is Kim and I am a compulsive overeater."