“The people who belong to the Focolare Movement strive to possess Christian wisdom (. . . ) Moreover they strive to be united so that Christ, present through mutual love, can influence their thinking with his light.” These first and last sentences of article 64 of the Movement’s Statutes express the root of Chiara Lubich’s thought.
Every great current of spirituality has within itself an intrinsic ability to bring about a cultural revolution, enabling the intuitions and truths contained within it to be translated into a body of doctrine that contributes to the formation of thought and criticism in every field of knowledge. And so it is for the charism of unity, whose doctrinal study is bringing to light an original cultural synthesis in which the branches of knowledge also find harmony and cohesion.
Once again, we must look back to history, to those “first days” in the city of Trent. Already in 1944 Chiara Lubich, passionate for philosophy and theology, and enrolled in the University of Venice, realized that there was a precise requirement of God hiding behind the development of the nascent Movement: that of putting the books in the attic. Chiara described this event in 1980: “Athirst for truth, I had lived the absurd, by searching for it through the study of philosophy, when I could have found it in Jesus the Truth Incarnate. And I left my studies to follow Jesus (. . . ) following that choice which God asked of me, the light came really abundantly.”
God, therefore, given first place, became the Teacher who made Chiara and the ever-growing community of the Movement, to see all of created reality, including human intelligence, as a manifestation of the Love of God.
The intellectual experience then became one of the expressions and effects of the love for God and neighbour.
And they took up their books again. Already in 1950 Chiara felt the need to begin studying: “I felt a need to base all the intuitions of that period upon a solid foundation” she said. And she did it with the help of many scholars, in particular with the help of Father Pasquale Foresi.
In the years that followed many members of the Movement began their studies in various scientific and academic fields. In November 2000, when she received an honorary doctorate, her twelfth, at Catholic University in Washington DC, Chiara stresses: “If those who study, live the spirituality of Unity, then from the presence of the Risen Lord in their midst, each of their disciplines will be clothed in newness, with the very newness that comes from the Holy Spirit.”
Particularly in the ongoing study of theology, comparing the truths of the Charism of Unity with the doctrinal patrimony of the Church, the existence of a new spirituality has obviously been verified, but one which fits perfectly into twenty centuries of Christian life. A dialogue on par with the times, a charism which is a perfect synthesis between continuity and novelty, which renews the tradition and thus demonstates the unity and the progress of history.
Also, regarding its specific goals, the Focolare Movement offers its members specific courses: There are courses for deepening ones knowledge of theology and of the social doctrind of the Church, there is the so-called Marian University, Ecumenical School and School of Ecumenism, courses on interreligious dialogue, and also courses on dialogue with the contemporary culture. And finally, particularly precious and prophetic, given the interdependent context in which we now live, there are courses in inculturation.
Since 1978 “New Humanity” journal has regularly published the findings of these studies.
Since 2008 Sophia University Institute has been offering a Master’s Degree in Fundamentals and Perspectives of a Culture of Unity, a two-year programme, along with a corresponding Doctoral Degree .