By Elena Dini
ROME — Father Felix Körner, SJ, is a professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, who has accompanied The Lay Centre resident community for the past few years, offering retreats and celebrating the weekly Mass on different occasions. He shares his experience in this short interview.
Q. What were the key moments of spirituality that you offered this year to Lay Centre students?
I felt that all those spiritual moments were really times of mutual giving and receiving, experiences of Christ’s spirit working in us as a community. Highlights among those? You know, the Eucharist we celebrate on Wednesday evenings are profound. They are purifying because they are simple. I walk up from the Gregorian to The Lay Centre through the Roman evening; I leave the tourists and the cars behind me. The trees, the garden, and then the chapel, the devotion, the words of the Gospel, the prayers, and Christ among us. But a special time was, of course, the retreat at the Capuchins’ place in Frascati: the weather, the view, the meditations, with Paul’s conversion as the guiding theme.
Q. Were there specific topics that you tackled? Could you say a few words about them?
Without having pre-programmed all this for the whole year, now that you ask I realize that there actually was a topic that accompanied us for all these last months: God has a personal call for you; and learning to listen to that is what makes us disciples of Christ. The call does not only regard our big life decisions. Rather, there is a call every day, a call to become more genuinely Christ’s companion. Our question when looking back a year or a day can be: Where was God calling me? In the double sense: What was the context in which I felt his call? And what was the direction into which he seemed to call me?
Q. Can you give us a concrete example?
Yes. We were in the Frascati monastery. A narrow corridor leads to the room where we met regularly. First, no one really saw them, but then we discovered on the corridor’s walls… there are 14 drawings. They turned out to be the Stations of the Cross by the Polish artist Jerzy Duda Gracz. We decided to change the programme of the retreat, and we all squeezed into the dark corridor; we visited each station together. We saw the Nazi crimes and Maximilian Kolbe, we saw Mother Theresa and the passions of today. I felt how Christ’s Passion leads him through the sufferings of our time, but also to today’s hopes and holiness. I felt how he calls us to stand up with him against discrimination and injustice.