Can you tell us how many years have you been active in spiritual life?
Although, as I understand it, the spiritual path does not have a beginning or an end, I first became conscious of it in 1947.
That was 50 years ago! How did it begin? Was it a kind of spiritual awakening?
Yes, you could say that, although for me, finding the spiritual path was not like a conversion. I did not exchange one set of dogmas for another since I have always felt that any assertion needs to be verifiable or confirmed by experience. For me, finding the spiritual path meant discovering the direction necessary for the expansion of my mind and heart, a process which still continues today.
My entrance into Cafh coincided with the beginning of my college studies. My first steps on the spiritual path produced not only an inner blossoming, but also a love for and dedication to study, an increasing sense of responsibility and a greater efficiency.
How did you hear about Cafh?
In those days Cafh was an exclusively esoteric order and no one knew of its name or existence. Two of my friends belonged to Cafh. They did not speak to me about Cafh, but through their conversations a wonderful universe opened before me; I was able to see that the yearnings I had up to that moment were not unique. I discovered new ideas and attitudes that produced a revolution in my life. I asked to have access to that vein of knowledge and realization, and I was admitted to Cafh.
Where there many people in Cafh at that time?
There were very few of us; the very nature of Cafh at that time led us to think that we would always be a small group of persons. I met Don Santiago Bovisio, the founder of Cafh, toward the end of 1947. I received spiritual direction from the spiritual director of my group, then from Don Santiago himself until his death in 1962.
What about your college studies, which you had just begun before entering Cafh?
I accelerated my studies in order to finish college as soon as possible; in this way I would be free to decide what to do with my life. I received a degree in architecture in 1952. Shortly after that, I entered a Community of Cafh.
Coming into contact with a group which, as you explained, was "exclusively esoteric in those days," sounds fascinating. What was the nature of the work you did, and continue to do, with that group?
We tend to describe the nature of the work we do as "vocation." By vocation, we mean that inner imperative which awakens when someone discovers his or her path, that yearning to fulfill one's spiritual possibilities and discover the meaning of life.
For some of us, this vocation is expressed through living a life of community, similar in some ways to the monastic traditions of many spiritual paths. But for most of the members of Cafh, this vocation is fulfilled through living "regular" lives within families, as single persons, as students, working in any number of professions and occupations.
You could say that the nature of the work of Cafh is fundamentally interior. It is the work that each person develops within him or herself, in one's own mind and heart; it is a mystical work, realized in silence. We have certain practices that help us in this work: meditation, spiritual reading, prayer, and some ascetic exercises.
This inner work can be done by anyone, anywhere, whatever one's exterior work or responsibilities may be. Everyone young and old, working people and students can benefit from this work on oneself, and contribute with one's own transformation to a better world. If you look around, you can see that many capable organizations and groups exist today to do the scientific, cultural and social work that society needs. There are members of Cafh who participate in this work, as professors, doctors, lawyers, social workers, teachers, office workers, manual laborers, and so on, and they fulfill their human contribution through this work. That is why, in Cafh, we value work so much, work of all kinds, because all work is necessary and therefore valuable. But the real contribution of Cafh is different from the exterior work that any of us may do. It is intrinsically and entirely spiritual. It is the perfecting of society and the spiritual transformation of the human being within one's own self. As Don Santiago said so well, it is "to live and to feel in oneself what one wants to do outside oneself."