Angelica Ciccone

On March 10th, the AMMI community of Rome had a day of retreat at the General House, guided by Bonga THAMI.

The theme of the retreat was “Discovering the Cross of Christ.” By examining the life of Saint Eugene de Mazenod, his crosses, his wounds, and how he embraced them, each person had the privilege of meditating on their burdens and exploring paths to transmute them into Life and Resurrection.

Here are some impressions from the participants:

When I saw the Cross, I was surprised and thought about how it can be risky to carry it. It makes us feel like we are part of it. Our pain and suffering risk melding with our essence. We align ourselves with the Cross and, in an act of self-centeredness, neglect the world around us, disregarding the crosses carried by those who travel alongside us. But on this path, Jesus shows us the true way. At the height of his pain, he did not withdraw into himself, but rather radiated love towards the women who wept at his feet, entrusted his mother to humanity, and transformed the hearts of thieves and pagans. There are two ways to embrace the Cross: to lament or to turn it into an instrument of life for ourselves and for others. This choice does not negate the pain, but embracing it and living it fervently can yield abundant fruit.” (Giovanni)

“As we relived the personal, familial, intimate, and spiritual vicissitudes of the Founder, the words of Hannah Arendt came to mind: humans are not meant to die, but to be born, to be born countless times. This experience resonates not only in Eugene’s life but in each of ours. It is the experience of the Cross that, in symbolizing Christ’s death, radiates life and hope, opening our hearts to the promise of constant rebirth in love. (Pietro)

It is not the first time that, through Father Bonga’s words, I have come face to face with Eugene’s pains, which in turn give me the opportunity to reflect on my own sorrows and burdens. Through this journey, I have gained a deeper understanding of Eugene and the many crosses he carried, starting with the limitations that his passionate temperament sometimes imposed, which, I feel, are also mine. These specific crosses have their roots in the sin that prevents us from fully trusting in God. My path has also been guided by Angelica Ciccone’s testimony, allowing me to see us all as children of a Saint who exhorts us to ‘live’ our own crosses with renewed vision and heart, thanks to the merciful gaze that Jesus and the Father cast upon us. I thank both of them because now I know what prayers I need to say during the remaining days of Lent. (Mariana)

The day of recollection was deeply intimate and profound that spoke to my heart. Eugene’s cross illuminated the enduring significance of this saint from another era. I found myself revisiting and reconsidering my own crosses, realizing they may offer avenues for fresh responses. It’s becoming clear that my true cross is none other than myself – my very being, a weight that stifles and constrains my capacity to fully embrace and delight in God’s gifts. (Antonella)

I discovered that Eugene’s cross mirrors the journey of every soul, navigating through moments of both sorrow and joy. Overcoming personal crosses can often feel overwhelming and bewildering, yet embracing Christ’s Cross reveals the divine countenance and leads to profound transformation through His boundless love. (Rita)

Embracing moments of ‘Cross’ without withdrawing, but rather nurturing and allowing pain or helplessness to yield fruit… Eugene has inspired me with the means to embrace the Cross of the Abandoned Jesus and revitalize it for both myself and others. It’s a journey that spans a lifetime. (Nicoletta)