In 1940, Chiara Lubich in a letter wrote a striking passage:
‘I am a person passing through this world. I have seen many beautiful and good things and I have always been attracted only by them. One day (one indefinable day). I saw a light. It seemed to me to be more beautiful than other beautiful things, and I followed it. I realised that it was the Truth.’
Her ambitions at the time, as a recently qualified teacher, were to go to the Catholic University in Milan. Her thinking was: ’It’s Catholic, they’ll speak about God there, they’ll teach me a lot about God’. There was an entrance test which resulted in funded places for 33 candidates. Chiara came 34th. She felt she had missed a great opportunity. “Between the tears, a voice rang clearly in her troubled heart: ‘I will be your teacher!”
Her understanding of study lies in the answer Jesus gave.
Later, in 1980, Chiara explains further: ‘Already in ’44 Jesus had asked me to leave my studies behind and put my books in the attic (…) Thirsting for truth, I saw the absurdity of looking for it in the study of philosophy when I could find it in Jesus, the Truth Incarnate. I left my studies to follow Jesus (…) There was, in that episode, a prelude of what would come to be in time the Focolare Movement. We saw a splendid light, but this in our soul, a fruit of our life (..) Following that choice which God asked of me, the light came to us in abundance. It gave light to the spirituality that God wanted from us, it shaped day by day the Movement as it developed. We called this light ‘wisdom’. (…) We understood that wisdom was fundamentally our new way of studying, the studying of the whole Movement (…)
Having left studying behind in ’43-’44, by 1950 I felt it was necessary to pick up the books again and study theology. I felt a need to base all the intuitions of that period upon a solid foundation.’
Now the Movement has many places where the culture of unity is developed for example, the ‘Abba School’, which explores the doctrine that pours out from the ‘charism of unity’, and is at the source of many initiatives permeating various fields of thought and life; the Marian University which aims to provide basic theological courses for the members of the Movement; various schools and courses based on the specific aims of the Movement; through the publishing house Citta Nuova with numerous publications in many languages, and the cultural magazine Umanita Nuova, and finally in 2008, the Sophia University Institute based in Loppiano (Incisa V. – Florence).