Mark Tecilla, Trentine and one of the first focolarini, tells us about the first steps of the community of Trent. Gathered around the rediscovered spirit of the Gospel, people were even ready to put their possessions at the disposition of others in order to alleviate the sufferings of the post-war period.
The spirituality expressed by Chiara Lubich soon became defined as a ‘collective’ or better still, a ‘communitarian’ spirituality, always in view of ‘ut omnes unum sint’ (jn 17,21). This spirituality unfolds into 12 cardinal points, leading from one to another:
- God is Love
- The Will of God
- The Word
- The Neighbour
- Mutual Love
- Jesus in the Eucharist
- Jesus Forsaken
- The Church
- The Holy Spirit
- Jesus in the Midst
In Chiara the points of the spirituality of unity were not developed through thought out plans, reflections or some theological points. Rather, this is a spirituality demanding an immediate adhesion, decisive and practical, something that brings life. In the splendid history of the Church, from its individual members, its saints and communities there has always been a clear line and result: it’s the individual that goes to God. This remains the case within the spirituality of unity, in the sense that the individual’s experience of God is unique and will never be repeated. However, the spirituality is drawn from the charism of unity, entrusted by the Holy Spirit to Chiara, and as well as this indispensible personal spiritual experience there is also a deep emphasis on the communitarian dimension of Christian life. It is not a complete novelty, the Gospel is eminently communitarian. There have been experiences in the past which have underlined the collective aspect of the journey towards God, above all in the spiritualities rising from those who had love at the base of their spiritual life. This can be seen in the example of St Basil and his community.
Chiara Lubich brings her own spirituality, which is an original communitarian way of going to God: being one in Christ, according to the Gospel of John: “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, so may they be in us.” (Jn 17,21). In Chiara this became a style of life.
A “communitarian spirituality” was foretold for our epoch by contemporary theologians and is also mentioned by the Second Vatican Council. Karl Rahner, for example, speaking of the spirituality of the Church of the future, saw it as a “fraternal communion in which it is possible to make the same basic experience of the Spirit”. Vatican II, directed attention to the Church as the body of Christ and people assembled in the bond of love of the Trinity. If St Teresa of Avila, doctor of the Church, spoke of “an interior castle”, the spirituality of unity helps to build an “exterior castle”, where Christ will be present and illuminate every part of it.