“In everything you do you have to think in terms of the other” says Micaela Gliozzi, pharmaceutical researcher from Calabria, Italy. “I do preclinical research and not only for the results of the work in itself, but always projected in the meaning it has for the person before me.”
Felipe De Mato Miller, philosopher from Porto Alegre, Brazil: “I’m grateful to Chiara Lubich for having given her charism that has inspired me to develop within my field of epistemology a new path of research based on the relational and social dimension of knowledge.”
Lina O’Bankien who is from India and works in the field of economics, often has dealings with the government. The problem of corruption is not a surprise, but “I’ve discovered that I too can help in bringing about a better world, together with others and not on my own.”
From epistemology to the effects of cardiovascular disease, to the fight against corruption. And what unites these three? They belong to the fields of some researchers who recently attended an international gathering of researchers, graduate students and professors from around the world, the “Chiara Lubich: Charism, History, Culture” conference that was held on March 14 – 15 to commemorate the anniversary of Chiara Lubich’s death in 2008. What they have in common is a spirituality that can animate every profession and school of thought.
The 600-member conference opened with the news of the new Pope. His appeal to brotherhood was recalled, a term familiar to focolarini because of its affinity with their own mission of extending the fraternity contained in the prayer of Jesus: “That all may be one” (Jn. 17:21) which is the inspiration behind the Movement. UNESCO Ambassador, Lucio A. Savoia, gave a talk while the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi sent written messages.
Chiara had a great love for study and learning. Recall how she left it by “placing her books in the attic” in order to follow God and the nascent Movement. But the charism entrusted to her was destined to blossom in cultural expressions, as is evidenced not only by the numerous honorary degrees that were conferred upon her, but also by the hundreds of scholars who were present at this anniversary event.
Even if we are only at the beginning of this study, the organisers of the Movement’s Centre for Studies insist Scuola Abbà, we are already beginning to notice reflections in contemporary knowledge. Environmental questions, economy at a time of common goods, politics and law are the areas chosen for this turning point.
The roots of the reflections presented during the day, certainly lay in a theological and philosophical dimension and these were widely discussed in a report by Prof. Piero Coda and sociologist Vera Araujo. Coda focused particularly on the “core” of Chiara Lubich’s doctrine: looking to Jesus Abandoned “the plague who during those years [the horror of the Second World War and totalitarianism ed.] secretly drew the longing for truth and justice of men and women (i.e. Bonhoeffer, Stein, Weil) to experience in all its crudity the unfolding of the tragic consequences of that death of God. . .”
Maria Voce spoke with some emotion in her voice, because it was in this universisty that she first came into contact with the ideal of Chiara Lubich, for which she gave her life. Now she was returning as the president of the Focolare, the first to succeed the founder. She spoke of a “culture of resurrection” as Chiara loved to call it, a culture that would be the fruit of modern human searching: “A search that is at times suffered and obscured, similar to a collective epochal night of the spirit, which Chiara herself exprienced in the last months of her earthly life. But at the same time, it is a search in which Chiara was ever able to uncover new paths that allowed her to have a foretaste of a culture pervaded by the light that mysteriously but truly flows from the passage through death towards the Life.”
One personal impression about the day’s events comes from Brendhan Leahy, newly-elected Bishop of Limerick, Ireland and member of the Abba School for Ecclesiology: “We are many here today, to reflect on the life and doctrine of a woman who had a charism whose depth we perhaps only now begin to fathom. Hearing again things that Chiara had said for so many years, you begin to understand the implications and how timely her message on the key to unity: that mystery of Jesus Abandoned who opens God, who opens the human being to us. The negative exists and needs to be recognised, but it doesn’t hold the last word.”