The itinerary of our lives is troubled not only and not solely by moments of suffering but also, and above all else, in almost mirror-like fashion, by the echo of the voice of He who never ceases to call us to Him. Months ago I found myself in one of those moments of suffering of the spirit which was in reality the culmination of an existential crisis that had lasted for a number of years and which was translated into attitudes that involved depression and anxiety – the outcome of a terrible and apparently incomprehensible sense of inner emptiness. I thought that I had lost my faith but I prayed for the help of the Lord with all my strength. Still today, I remember that at that terrible moment something inside me pushed me to make a radical choice to get out of the abyss of that senseless despair: ‘Get up! Go and help those in need!’ This was the phrase that sounded out in my soul and it was then that I asked my father where I could put this wish of mine into practice, a wish which by then had become a categorical imperative inside me. My father suggested the community of St. Camillus in Acireale as the place where I could best provide service to the poor. After introducing myself to one of the priests of the community, I enrolled as a volunteer for the service of providing meals to poor people, since when – that was a day in June of this year – I have continued to provide that service.
After more than three months intensely providing this service in this community, I can weigh up that experience which can only continue for my whole life. The days that I spent with the Camillian brothers and priests, with the women Ministers of the Sick, with the other volunteers and with the poor people who received meals, enabled me to discover a new dimension of man, the authentically human dimension, which allows you to recognise in each one of those ‘least’ the face of the poor and naked Christ suffering on the cross. One is dealing here with that experience, or to put it better that encounter, which requires us to put ‘more heart in those hands’, as St. Camillus de Lellis used to say. Faced with those who suffer, commitment and human will alone are not sufficient – they need the support of a Will that supports you so that you are not discouraged when you provide your service. This is another fundamental teaching that was obtained from the service of providing meals with the Camillians because without faith, without the strength of Truth, we can do nothing (‘caritas in veritate’). And thus it was that after a great existential emptiness and constant anxiety accompanied by the pride of thinking that I could do everything on my own, almost without realising the fact the perturbation that afflicted me disappeared with the passing of those days spent together with my friends the Camillians, the volunteers, and those poor people who came for meals. The joy of living came from faith which gave me the hope that I could emerge from that abyss, the pathway out of which was charity. Despite the fact that I know that what I do for the good of other people I could do in a better way, I know that by persevering and praying to achieve that goal, the way that I provide that service will improve day by day. This I owe to the poor, to my Camillian brothers and sisters, and to God. Because when I entered the iron front door of the community of St. Camillus for the first time I was sick and I have been healed; I thought that I was alone and I rediscovered God and met people whom I call my friends. I had lost my faith and I rediscovered it.