Franz, you wrote the book. What has the life of Chiara Luce left with you?
“Chiara can truly be a model for everyone, believers and non-believers alike, because what she believed in is the same as what every person of good will believes in: striving to love, being attentive to the person near you, living the present moment. Another important thing – and in this she is such an efficacious model for the times we are now living in – simplicity: she’s simple. Her way is not an easy one, but neither is it complicated. For her, of course, this meant going through something very painful, a narrow passage, cancer, one of the most painful cancers. But Chiara didn’t become a saint only because of what she went through with the illness, but because one baby-step at a time, from the time she was a small child she had learnt to say her “yes” in doing God’s will: whether it was racing around on her bicycle, gathering mushrooms with her Dad, or going for chemotherapy. What led to the great moment of her beatification was undoubtedly the greatness and the lightness, the levity and the love with which she lived all these things.
It was also due to the small population of people that surrounded her from when she was small – her parents and her friends from the Focolare Movement. Moment by moment they shared in both her joys and in her sorrows. There was a mutual “nourishing” exchange among them. These people were enriched, but they also communicated strength and energy to Chiara to go forward.”
How has the reception of Chiara Luce’s life been among young people?
“Even those who don’t know her, who don’t know anything or very little of her, I don’t know, in some mysterious way – they fall in love with this person. We can talk about her, write books, but my impression is that Chiara Luce doesn’t talk on TV or on the radio. She talks to the individual heart of each person. In some mysterious way she manages to create a personal relationship with her. And this is marvelous. This has been the case for her mother, her father and also for me. I have a stronger relationship with her now than when she was still alive.”
I asked Teresa Badano, Chiara’s mother, for her impressions after having been part of WYD in Brazil.
“It was all marvelous, perhaps because we arrived here with a simple attitude of awaiting, waiting to see what surprises would be in store for us, trying to live each moment in love. Then everything became beautiful. We lived a little bit of what Chiara Luce has taught us: to live in a normal way something that was not normal for us who never leave our house, except for the past several years. We tried to do the will of God that was presented to us in such a wonderful context.”
Here you could sense the impact Chiara Luce had on the young people. . .
“We certainly realized that she had a special grace for the young people. Her experience is valid for all children and teenagers like her. She offered her life for the young people. But all those faces, all those embraces that don’t want to let you go. . . for us who are nothing! They just overwhelm us! It’s marvelous. . . You see so much joy in the young, which comes from the heart. She transmits a bit of Heaven to them and they transmit it to us.”
“Yes, many times. There was one teenager who was undecided. It seemed he had a vocation, but he was really uncertain. Suddenly he felt that Chiara Luce was saying to him: “This is your way.” And he jumped into it. Now he’s a focolarino. Even those who have only heard talk of her or seen her photo have been touched by her gaze, by that interior beauty, but that fire she had within. For sure God wishes to fulfill the plan he has in mind for each one of these young people. As Cardinal Joao Aviz said while bidding us farewell, “This is only the beginning of what Chiara has begun to do. We’re only at the beginning here, because it’s going to be something huge, huge, and it will continue.”
We stand waiting. As Chiara Luce said in her last greeting to the youths and young people of the world: “Until next time!”
Compiled by Carla Cotignoli (Brazil)