In 1980, two men sit down to record a conversation. They have much in common: both are passionate, articulate thinkers. But their differences are just as striking: Giovanni Testori is a well-known writer-and an openly gay man. Luigi Giussani is a Catholic priest who has attracted so many students with his striking way of re-proposing the Christian message that he’s unwittingly started a movement (which came to be known as Communion and Liberation).
Testori, who has recently returned to the Catholic faith, begins with a provocative suggestion: modern people have lost contact with the existential and religious experience of birth, of an origin in love-the love of one’s parents and the love of God. From here, the dialogue ranges widely, taking on the root causes of modern despair and alienation, the link between suffering and hope, the significance of memory, and what it means to encounter the presence of God in one another.
Profound but accessible, The Meaning of Birth is a resonant and bracing exploration of life’s most fundamental questions.
I invite you to enter into this fascinating dialogue between two people talking about the meaning of their lives. These men have experienced a “presence,” a deep love, which has become for them like a new birth illuminating their destiny. They tell each another—and us—that this presence is God himself, the God whose birth at Christmas joins heaven and earth. This conversation illustrates how deeply that experience has transformed their humanity.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Papal Nuncio to the United States
The genius of Fr. Giussani—who had an uncanny ability to speak directly to the human heart and open it to the mystery of God—stands out clearly in his encounters with other searchers. This particular encounter sets before us a number of human realities and gives each of them an extraordinarily dramatic depth and urgency: birth, death, freedom, memory, pain, redemption, sacrifice, and hope.
D.C. Schindler, author of The Politics of the Real
For Giussani and Testori, the stakes could not be higher: either we as a culture will begin to recall where we came from and thus rediscover the meaning of our lives, or we will turn our faces and walk away from the source of all love. Toward the end of this brief but powerful little book, I found myself moved to tears.
Paula Huston, author of The Hermits of Big Sur
Two men sit down to carry on a discussion of the meaning of hope in the context of birth and what it means…and the result is a white-fiery explosion of theological and psychological insight. The truth is: I was blown away by this exchange.
Paul Mariani, author of Ordinary Time
Perhaps now more than ever before we need this profound, prophetic book which shows us how to deal with the “forgetfulness of being loved” in the light of the “catalytic encounter with a human presence” made possible in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., founding editor-in-chief of Magnificat