The Rev. Saito from the Buddhist Association Rissho Kosei-kai together with his wife Hiroyo and Mrs Eriko were in Italy this year for a trip full of events and meetings, which began at the Focolare Movement’s New Families’ Centre.
Rissho Kosei-kai’s commitment in the field of family life is in deep harmony with the aims of New Families, and they have been working together for many years: ‘I am a member of Rissho Kosei-kai. One of the teachings inspiring it is that we should be committed to building peace in the world, the State, society and the family. I remember that also Chiara Lubich said that society begins with the family, so it is vital to practise love, living it first of all in the family, which is the thing closest to us, and then in society which is made up of many families, and then in the State, and then in the whole world. Like this we can build peace. We can say that the family contributes love to the world.’
A particularly important moment on this trip was the audience with Pope Benedict XVI. Rev. Saito recalled it like this: ‘In Japan there have been huge disasters, like the tsunami last March, and large numbers of people have died, have lost their families, homes and work. The Pope made an appeal for prayer for Japan and I believe that that has deeply touched the hearts of many people in the world. I was able to tell him that the Japanese people never forget his words and I expressed my personal, profound gratitude. Benedict XVI smiled and he shook my hand with great warmth. This made me understand how much love he has in his heart.’
The visit to Assisi was also important for Rev. Saito: ‘The words of God-Buddha are becoming fact because people have put them into practice. This is true of the words of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you”, “Whatever you have done to the least, you have done to me.” These words of Jesus have become concrete teachings for us to live as a result of our seeing the life and witness of St Francis.”
Having met Chiara Lubich personally and his tremendous respect for her drew Rev. Saito to go in the end to visit Chiara’s house: ‘When we went into the room where she lived the last moments of her life, in front of her bed, the focolarina who was our guide us said that in that last period Chiara had read the gospels again in order to check if she had put into practice all of Jesus’ words. Having had the confirmation that this was so, Chiara left for heaven. I would like to live faith in the same way Chiara did, following her example.’