Father Rebuschini: he is my Witness

rebuschini 1Passage taken from Domenico Casera, Esercizi spirituali alla scuola del Beato Enrico Rebuschini, Cremona – Mottinello, 1996, pp. 30-33.

There is a phrase in Italian – ‘passare il testimone’ (‘handing over the baton’). This term comes from sport and comes from relay races: it is the baton that a runner has to hand over to the fellow member of the team who will run the next stretch of the race, thereby bearing witness to the correctness and the completion of the race. I apply this term to F. Rebuschini. When, on 10 May 1938, he rendered up his soul to the Lord, he handed over the baton of his exemplary religious life to his religious brothers so it could then come down to us.

In particular, to what did Fr. Rebuschini bear witness? More with the example of his life than with words, he bore witness to:

  • A personal response – and a generous, concrete and persevering one – to the call of God to religious life. Answering the invitation of Jesus – ‘Come and see where I live’ (Jn 1:39), the apostles entered the home of Jesus, an ordinary flat in Capharnaum. On that first occasion they stayed with him for a few hours. Then they thought about things and decided to follow him. To that same call, addressed to us in ways that belong to our personal biographies, we also answered, and we entered one of the houses of the Order. We were asked, at the moment of deciding, to have the ability to understand the moment of grace of our call and to have lucidity of discernment. Today I am requested to be faithful to what was a fundamental option, to give new life to the grace of that call, and to keep it efficient and productive: as was the case with Rebuschini.
  • The meaning to be given to my ‘sequela Christiwhich cannot be reduced to a simple exterior reply but which, rather, must be integrated into my life, be really taken on, be engaged in its entirety, which must define my apostolic intentions, my being in the Church and society…
  • A spirit of prayer, which is not restricted to the strong times of prayer that are established by our communities but which fills all the moments of our day, maintains contact with God in carrying out our daily tasks, keeps us lively and serene in our work, gathered together in God when we leave the house, or at least not extraneous to Him in the unfolding of our days, to the point of transcending ourselves in mystical experiences that were habitual in Fr. Rebuschini. Sr. Pernechele testified: ‘From my personal knowledge I know that he prayed with intense fervour, for a long time, that he did not show that he noticed people around him; at times he did not answer calls, he had to be touched. Both I and the religious sisters of my community noticed on a number of occasions that in the darkness of the church his face appeared to be almost lit up’.
  • A great readiness to help the real individuals who live near to us and are in conditions of need, whether they are our religious brothers afflicted by illness or forced to go through grave moments of crisis, or sick people with the burdens of their spiritual or moral or material poverty, or ‘postulants’ who express their misery and ask for our help, or men and women of the city who get into contact with us for advice. Fr. Enrico had a rooted aptitude for listening, he allowed himself to be touched by the suffering and anxiety of people, no situation of material or moral degradation could eliminate man’s dignity for him, a dignity which had to be always recognised, honoured and helped…
  • Great goodness which does mean good-naturedness or an easy giving way to the sentimental or mannerism marked by pathos. Active goodness, goodness as a noble and mysterious force that makes life bearable, goodness as understanding behaviour that is ready to listen, to give something of oneself, to forgive, that goodness that has something that is unstoppable and gives calm and courage, overcomes resistance, does not collect wrongs and convinces more than whole volumes of moral sermons…
  • Serenity which does not mean imperturbability or absolute calm or impassiveness, no space for the reactions of the feelings, closing up in oneself when faced with questions without an answer…serenity is reassurance, an ability to relax spirits, to transmit comfort and encouragement, to stimulate optimistic feelings, to nurture hope with arguments of faith as well…May Fr. Rebuschini be for us a model of that serenity that should belong to the natural and religious structure of our hearts!