When she consecrated her life to God on December 7, 1943, the young teacher, Silvia Lubich never imagined that a few decades later, four popes would speak so highly of her and her spiritual family.
She didn’t have any idea what she would see and experience in her 88 years of life here on earth. She didn’t have any idea that she would have millions of followers. She never imagine that she and her friends would reach 182 countries.
Could she ever have thought that she would inaugurate a new season of communion in the Church and open channels of ecumenical dialogue that had never been seen before? Much less could she have imagined that her spiritual family would include the faithful of other religions and people without any religious affiliation. Chiara never thought about starting a movement.
On December 7, 1943, Chiara Lubich only had the feelings of a beautiful young woman who was in love with her God and was about to enter into a marriage pact that would be sealed with three red carnations. Could she have imagined the crowds of people of all ages, races, and backgrounds who would follow her on her trips around the world and know her only as “Chiara”? Could she ever have imagined in the small city of Trent that her mystical intuitions would one day create a culture of unity for a multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious society? Chiara Lubich was a trail-blazer. As a laywoman in the Church she proposed themes and openings that were much later embraced by the Second Vatican Council. In a global society she pointed to universal brotherhood at a time when no one was talking about encounters among cultures. She honoured life and sought the meaning of suffering. She mapped out a path of religious and civil holiness that could be followed by anyone, not only the privileged few
At the 1977 Eucharistic Congress in Italy she said: “A pen never knows what it will write, a brush never knows what it will paint and a chisel never knows what it will sculpt. When God takes someone into his hands in order to accomplish a new work in his Church, the person doesn’t know what she will do. I think this might be my case: I’m only the tool.”
She added: “There were such abundant fruits and vast spreading which seemed disproportionate to any human effort or planning. There were many crosses, but also many fruits. The human instruments that God uses often have a thing or two in common: They’re generally small and weak. As he moves them around in his hands, the Lord shapes them through countless joys and sorrows. He makes them more and more pliable to the task until they reach a very deep and certain knowledge of themselves and of God. They can say with confidence: I am nothing; God is everything. When this adventure began in Trent, Italy, I didn’t have any plans, I didn’t have anything in mind. The idea of the Movement was in God’s mind and its design came from Heaven.”
The Focolare Movement began with Chiara Lubich who was born on January 22, 1920 in Trent, Italy and died on March 14, 2008 in Rocca di Papa, Italy, surrounded by the love of her people.
The news of her death spread quickly among the members of her spiritual family around the world, who were united in prayer.
In the days that followed thousands of people, from plain working men to political and religious leaders, began to arrive in Rocca di Papa to honour her. The funeral was held in the Roman Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, but it was unable to hold the huge crowd that had arrived (over 40,000 people). Vatican Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, presided at the Eucharistic Celebration that was con-celebrated by 9 cardinals, 40 bishops and hundreds of priests. Cardinal Bertone read the message sent by Benedict XVI in which the Pope described Chiara as a “Woman of intrepid faith, a meek messenger of hope and peace”.
Some pre-recorded words spoken by Chiara resounded through the crowd: “At the end of time, when the Work of Mary is prepared in its compact unity to appear before the forsaken and risen Jesus, I would like it to be able to say: On your day, my God, I shall come to you. . . . I shall come to you, my God. . . . with my wildest dream fulfilled: to bring you the world in my arms. That all may be one!”