Ewa is young and tall, her hair and eyes are black. These are the colours that distinguish the inhabitants of her native land with its long-standing Catholic presence, and which gave birth to the Solidarity Movement that greatly contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall. We speak of Poland.
This is where Eva grew up and one day encountered the Focolare Movement and in its Spirituality found her path in life. She certainly had never dreamt that her life could one day tell a different story for her.
Where Ewa now lives in Germany, there are a variety of Christian Churches. In her own focolare she lives with focolarine from three different Churches; the majority are Roman Catholic, then there is Doina from the Romanian Orthodox Church, and Anke from the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
An interesting experience, when you consider that unity – according to the prayer of Jesus ‘that all be one’ (Jn. 17) is the specific aim of the Focolare. We ask Ewa to tell us how it is possible to live unity, indeed, to build unity even though they have such different doctrinal backgrounds. “For me, this experience of an ecumenical focolare is quite powerful. It widens my heart, my thinking because we really try to live one for the other even though we see that there are so many things that could divide us.
But the greatest challenge is that of not allowing Anke and Doina feel as if they are a minority. Oftentimes this was not the case, but we always begin again!
We are always trying to learn about one another’s Church. We try to understand what is important to their Church, and so when it is possible we attend some of the services of each other’s Church.
For example, Good Friday is an important solemnity that is part of the Easter Triduum. For the Evangelical Church is the major feast of the year. And in our focolare we tried to give it true honour, going to the Morning Service with Anke and then to the Catholic Service in the afternoon.
The feastdays of the Orthodox Church are often on different days than ours. So we try to remember them even when they occur on weekends when we are often very busy. Just the same, we try to find a way to share them together. Then we observe the weekly fast of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which is very important to Doina. On Wednesdays we take our meals without meat, eggs, or milk. . .
Regarding fasting, at first I used to think that loving my neighbour when it is difficult was a form of “fasting.” But now I’ve come to realize that what matters is to “be” the other, in the other, even if you don’t understand everything, but slowly, slowly coming to appreciate all the richness that there is in the other’s Church. Thus I see that even taking these small daily steps you begin to build a relationship in God from which a dialogue in daily life is born, one that is based on the spirituality of unity that helps to advance the journey towards full communion among the Churches.”