“So full of life despite the absurdity of the war.” This is what Murad and Lina of the focolare in Damascus wrote, after a week-end event with 67 young people from all over the country. Unending prayers for the gift of peace.[more]
“Youth of the world, unite!”
This was the appeal Chiara Lubich made in 1967, addressing the young adults and children who were part of the Movement at that time; she invited them to “Get together the biggest number possible of youth around the world and begin a large scale revolution with the cry ‘Let’s unite!’. She clarified that this was to be “A revolution of love”, and its goal was to fulfil Jesus’ prayer: “That all may be one”. From the response of thousands of young people throughout the world to this invitation the Gen Movement was born, the “new generation” of the Focolare Movement.
In 1968 its identity was made clearer through a symbolic gesture: the Gen were presented with a statuette which showed them handing on a flag from the first to the second generation, on this model was the inscription: “That all may be one” (jn 17,21) and “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mt 27,46). The first quote set out the programme for the movement and the second gave the secret that would make it happen.
The Gen 2 are scattered throughout the world and are from every culture, social strata, religion or none: they represent the second generation of the Focolare Movement and share its charism completely.
They have discovered that living the Gospel demands a real revolution in their lives, a revolution which is able to change the world: they are committed to living this revolution with courage and determination. They know that their strength and perseverance come from the presence of Jesus, who promised “Where two or three are united in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Mt 18,20).
They meet occasionally in little groups known as “Gen 2 units”, where they try and keep that presence of Christ alive among them; whilst together they share the experiences they have had when trying to live the Word of God. They give each other help and encouragement.
The Gen 2 are the main animators for Youth for a United World movement which is active in society promoting universal brotherhood.
The Gen 3 are the third generation of the Focolare Movement, their ages range from 9 to 17. Their presence within the Movement was highlighted particularly in 1970 when Chiara noticed that their lively characteristic was very different from the older age group, so she suggested a specific style of formation for them, distinct from the others.
Chiara herself outlined the Gen 3 programme:
“The Gen 3 aim very high (…) They recognise that the ones who have had the greatest impact in the world are the saints; they drew crowds, have brought many people to God, they have changed the world socially (…) [the Gen 3] Want to be – and don’t be surprised – a generation of Saints.”
Around the Gen 3 there are many other boys and girls who want to share the same style of life without such a level of commitment and they are known as the Movement Children for Unity. Together they work on common themes called ‘pathways’ carrying out initiatives on a local and international level to help build a united world.
Gen 4 and Gen 5
As within all families there is a special place for the youngest members: for us these are the Gen 4 aged between 4 and 8 and the Gen 5 up to age 4.
These age groups are especially sensitive to love, learning to live it out practically through the example of others living the spirituality of unity; they discover that this love, when it is mutual, brings the presence of Jesus which they learn to recognise and with whom they have a simple, straightforward relationship.
Through their international congresses they come into contact with children and adults from other countries and religions, and they experience from an early age that they are all children of the same Father, and so are open to the whole of humanity.
Each morning they start the day by rolling the “dice of love” (an idea Chiara gave them). Each face on the dice shows a point of the art of loving: love everyone, be the first to love, ‘make yourself one with the other’, see Jesus in the other, love your enemy and love each other. The motto that comes up when the dice is thrown is the one that they try to put into practise during the day, and then they share their joys and experiences that they have found when trying to love people all day.
They spread the idea of this “dice of love” within their school, with friends and relatives. The dice is now used in many classes, and in some cases whole schools as well as within parish groups and as part of education projects.
In a special way love encourages these children to live the culture of giving in lots of ways: by giving a smile, a helping hand, friendship, sharing a snack, giving consolation, joy, helping the poor, giving forgiveness…. They make the discovery “When we love we are happy, and if we love always, we will always be happy!”
A university professor and a young woman from Nairobi tell of their experience in direct contact with the bereaved families of students killed in the massacre, and the difficult process of identifying the victims.[more]
Ermanno Perotti, a 25 year-old Italian, who holds a Masters degree in Economic Development, is currently with Maria Voce at the United Nations. ‘Our generation is prepared for a multicultural future. I dream of a School of Dialogue at the UN headquarters.’[more]
Although the exposition of the Shroud has ended, the mystery of Jesus’ suffering remains. In the 1970s Chiara Lubich, writing to young people, presented the Man of the Shroud as the model of Someone who “bore everything with love”.[more]