““Please accept my gratitude and joy for allowing me to be here with you, and for your Christian presence in this land. I feel honoured to be somehow part of it too.” These were the opening words of Maria Voce as she met with representatives of the local Church on September 5, 2013 at Rosary College of Amman.
Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, Apostolic Nuncio in Jordan and Iraq was joined by Bishop Salim Sayegh, Emeritus Latin Bishop, Archbishop Yasser Ayash, Greek Catholic Bishop, Salomone Warduni, Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad, several archimendrites, men and women religious – including the superiors of the Christian Brothers, Sisters of the Rosary and Dominican Sisters – and by lay people from the Catholic Church (Melkites, Latin and Chaldean Rite) and by the Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican Churches. These more than 300 people offered a picture of the ecclesial reality of the country. The evening, which was part of an ecclesial programme within the context of the Year of Faith, had been organized to present the contribution that the spirituality of communion can bring to the faith.
Two young people presented the United World Project with the most recent experiences in Amman, that aimed at engaged the city with mostly ecological and environmental projects. One couple shared their Christian experience of involvement in marriage, which was marked in the early years by suffering, due to the absence of children but also of involvement in the ecclesial field, especially with families. “After 6 years, during which many other couples were praying with us, our daughter was born. In the Movement we have learned that everyone is called to holiness and we are committed to follow this path.”
The last to share her experience was Zena, an eighteen year-old who shared her expierence with a tumour when she was seventeen years old. “Everyone pitied me, but I felt fortunate that God had chosen me to carry his cross.” She admitted to being fearful, but in hospital she tried to cheer up others, especially the children who were there with her: “I saw many people suffering and how great was the faith of some of them. One day I felt all alone. I telephoned the focolare and they reminded that Jesus had also felt abandoned.” Now Zena is doing better, life pouring out of every pore. She left the hall amidst a loud round of applause, especially when she said that in spite of the demanding treatments she managed to pass her high school examinations with a 95% average.
During her presentation Maria Voce underscored several points of the spirituality of unity that highlighted how the spirituality of communion enables a person live the Year of Faith in a deeper way. She recalled how “deeply Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to give public witness of the faith had found an echo among us, “a public witness of living the Word, the experience of having received love,” “and sharing this as a joyful experience of grace.”
The president of the Focolare, who is visiting Jordan from August 28th to September 10th, told how several aspects of this spirituality seemed to be truly prophetic on the ecclesial level. “In the first years of the Focolare Movement communion of the experiences of living the Word was quite a novelty. And these were irrefutable because they were ‘life,’ they were fruitful too, capable of generating a true and living encounter with Jesus, making people who were scattered into a community.” She then underscored what Pope Francis had recently written in his Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei: “It is impossible to believe on our own. Faith is not simply an individual decision which takes place in the depths of the believer’s heart, nor a completely private relationship between the “I” of the believer and the divine “Thou,” between an autonomous subject and God. By its very nature, faith is open to the “We” of the Church; it always takes place within her communion.
Maria Voce concluded: “Thanks to this spirituality of communion we have also seen communion blossoming in the Church among the various Movements that enrich her, charisms both ancient and new. Moreover we see how this contributes to the unity of Christians and opens dialogue with people of other religions who present the more urgent and challenging frontier of the third millennium.”
One priest commented on a message that was posted on Facebook: “My heart is Christian but my mind does not believe in religion. Don’t consider me an atheist, because I don’t accept your evaluation. Who are you to evaluate me?” “And how are we to answer our young people?” the priest asked.
Focolare co-president Giancarlo Falettisuggested the life option. “What this girl writes is interesting: a Christian experience divided between heart and mind. When the Christian experience is lived together with others it brings the presence: the presence of Christ in the community. So then we can answer: my secret is a Person, it’s Jesus who came to life for me and the others. I think that this is the witness we should give, also with the modern means of communication.”
By Roberto Catalano
Visit to Jordan